"Midnight in Paris," Woody Allen's highest grossing movie of his career and the winner of the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award this year, evidently began as a stand-up routine that Allen performed in the mid 1960s. Nerdist pointed out that a track on "Standup Comic," entitled "Lost Generation," bears more than a few similarities to the 2011 comedy.
"I was in Europe many years ago with Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway had just written his first novel. But Gertrude Stein and I read it, and we said it was a good novel, not a great novel, and that it needed some work, but that it could be a fine book. We laughed over it. Hemingway punched me in the mouth."
Nearly the exact same plot is reflected in "Midnight in Paris," as Owen Wilson, acting as the Woody Allen surrogate in the film, brings Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) the manuscript for Hemingway's (Corey Stoll) first novel. Allen's stand-up routine further goes onto recount hanging out with Pablo Picasso and going to a party thrown by Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, elements that also appear prominently in the film.
In addition to winning Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars this year, "Midnight in Paris" was nominated for three other Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Art Direction.
Allen has never hidden that he sometimes uses ideas for movies decades after their inception. For instance, 2009's "Whatever Works" was originally written for Zero Mostel in the early '70s, before Allen retooled the script for Larry David when he finally made the film. The concept for "Hollywood Ending" was scribbled on a matchbook that Allen found years later and decided to make the film. Additionally, "Annie Hall" was originally conceived as a murder mystery, and the director finally used scraps from that original story when making "Manhattan Murder Mystery" 15 years later.
Perhaps other film ideas are hidden within Allen's stand-up routines, which largely remain funny today. This revelation is as good an excuse as any to revisit his early comedy. And plus, if a 50-year-old, 2 minute stand-up routine can win Oscars in 2012, we think it's time Hollywood optioned old Sid Caesar and Jack Benny jokes.