Written and directed by Woody Allen, a 42-year-old Jewish writer is going with a 17-year-old girl while his best friend is married but is having an affair with an intellectual woman who becomes interested in the writer.
The voice of Isaac tries various beginnings for his book about New York City and criticizes each one.
In a crowded restaurant Yale (Michael Murphy) is telling Tracy (Mariel Hemingway) that art is to help you work through feelings you did not know you had. Isaac (Woody Allen) says that talent is luck, and the most important thing is courageous. Emily (Anne Byrne) says they have been having that argument for twenty years. Isaac asks what the four of them would do if they were walking home and saw someone fall in icy water. Would they save the person from drowning? Isaac says he can’t swim; so he would never have to face it. Isaac lights a cigarette, and Tracy says he does not smoke. He says he looks handsome when he is holding one. She excuses herself and leaves the table. Yale says she is gorgeous, and Isaac says she is 17, and he is 42. He says he is older than her father. Emily says that Isaac is drunk, and Yale says he should never drink. Isaac says that his second ex-wife is writing a book about their marriage and the breakup. Emily calls that tacky. He says it is depressing because she is going to give out his quirks and mannerisms. He has nothing to hide, but some moments he regrets. Yale says it is gossip like in the newspapers. Tracy returns and tells Isaac they should go. Isaac says she has to do homework.
Isaac and Yale are walking on the street, and Isaac asks where his mind is. Yale tells him that seven weeks ago he met a woman at a dinner party and got involved with her. He is scared. Isaac asks the details, and Yale says she is a journalist and is not married; but she is very beautiful, high strung, and elusive. Isaac says she sounds wonderful. Yale says he thinks of her all the time. Isaac says he is married and asks how serious it is. Yale has not said anything to Emily. Isaac says he always thought that he and Emily had one of the best marriages. Yale agrees they do, and he loves her. He says in all their years he has had only two minor things with other women. He hates himself for doing this. Isaac says he should not ask him about this because in relationships with women he wins the August Strindberg award.
As they are coming in their door, Emily tells Yale that she does not think that 17 is too young, and he agrees with her. He says Isaac has done a lot worse. She thinks he is wasting his life, and he says he writes crap for television. He turns on a light, and Emily asks him if he has thought any more about having kids. He says he has to get his book on O’Neill finished, and he has to raise money to start the magazine. She says they have talked about getting a place in Connecticut, and he could do it there. In the kitchen he puts his arms around her and kisses her. He says they have to be practical; his stuff is there, and he works there. He says they can’t abandon Isaac, who can only function in New York; he is very Freudian. He kisses her again.
Jill (Meryl Streep) comes out of a building and walks on the street. Isaac joins her and asks her if she is writing a book about their marriage. She tells him to leave her alone. He asks her to tell him if she is writing about their breakup. She says they have said everything that needs to be said to each other. He says it affects him, and she says she is in a rush. He asks if she is going to tell everyone about the sexual details. She asks if he is spying on her. He says a guy at a party told him he read an advance chapter and said it was “hot stuff.” She laughs, and he says he spilled wine on his pants. She does not want to discuss it. He asks her how Willie is. He would like to know what his boy is doing and hopes he does not wear dresses. She says he does not. She says he can find out the details when it is his turn to see him. He tells her not to write this book because it will humiliate him. She says it is an honest account of their breakup. He says everyone who knows them will know everything. She observes that he feels threatened. He says he is not threatened because he was not the immoral, psychotic, and promiscuous one. He stops walking as she walks on.
Tracy is reading a book while Isaac walks around the apartment and is surprised that she had three affairs before she knew him. She says they were really immature boys; they were not like him. He asks what that means, and she says she is in love with him. He tells her to move over and sits on the sofa by her feet. He says they are going to have a good time, and she is going to meet many terrific men in her life. He wants her to enjoy him and his wry sense of humor and his sexual techniques. He says she has her whole life ahead of her, and she asks if he has any feelings for her. He wonders how she could even ask that; of course he has feelings for her; but she should not get hung up one person at her age. He says they are breaking erotic records as long as the cops don’t burst in. He says she should think of him as a detour on the highway of life. He tells her to get dressed because they have to get out of there. She asks if he does not want her to stay over. He says he does not want her to get in the habit of staying there. He says she stays one night and then two nights and then pretty soon she is living there. She says that sounds good to her, but he says she won’t like it. He wants to take her to see the Veronica Lake movie. They walk up the stairs, and she asks if she is the redhead. He says that is Rita Hayworth, and she asks who that is. She says she is joking and knows things that are pre-Paul McCartney.
Isaac and Tracy are looking at an exhibit of photographs and talk about them. He sees Yale, and he introduces his friend Mary (Diane Keaton). Isaac says they really liked the photographs downstairs, but Mary says she thought they were derivative. She did not like the plexiglass sculpture either. He says they did not like the steel cube, but Mary says she thought that was brilliant because it was textural.
The four are walking on the street, and Yale suggests they go see the Sol Lewitt. Isaac says sure and asks Tracy. Mary says she was going to do a piece on Lewitt for Insight magazine. She asks Tracy what she does, and she says she goes to high school. Yale says he thinks Lewitt is over-rated and that he is a candidate for the Academy of the Over-rated. He and Mary invented that for Gustave Mahler, Isak Dinesen, Carl Jung, Lenny Bruce, Scott Fitzgerald, and Norman Mailer. Isaac says everyone they mentioned is terrific. They add Heinrich Boll, and Isaac asks about Mozart while they are trashing people. Mary mentions Vincent Van Gogh and Ingmar Bergman. Isaac says Berman is the only genius in cinema today. Mary says Isaac is the opposite because he writes that fabulous television show which is so funny. Bergman’s view is Scandinavian and bleak like Kierkegaard, like God’s silence which she loved when she was at Radcliffe; but you outgrow it. She says it is dignifying one’s psychological and sexual hang-ups by attaching them to grandiose philosophical concepts. Yale says they are there, and Isaac says it was nice and a sensation meeting her; but they have to go and do some shopping. Mary says she does not even want to have this conversation. She is from Philadelphia and believes in God. Isaac asks what that means.
Isaac and Tracy are in a store, and he asks her if she could believe what a creep Mary is. Tracy says she seemed nervous, and he says she was overbearing and so cerebral. He asks where she comes off rating those people. Tracy asks why he is getting so mad, and he goes on about what she said. Tracy asks if she is Yale’s mistress, and Isaac says that mystifies him. He says Yale was always a sucker for those kind of women who like to sit around and discuss existential reality. She says she feels that Yale really likes her, but Isaac says he is old-fashioned and does not believe in extra-marital relationships. He says people should mate for life like pigeons and Catholics, but she says maybe people are not meant to have only one chief relationship. She says maybe people were meant to have a series of relations, and the other has gone out of date. He tells her not to tell him that because she was brought up on drugs, television, and the pill. He says he was brought up on World II in the trenches, and she points out he was only eight then.
In a studio the television show “Human Beings Wow!” begins with a man interviewing a young man in a baseball cap and a catatonic woman. In the control room Isaac is complaining that this is empty and without substance. A bearded man says it is insightful, and Isaac says it is not funny. They point to the audience, and Isaac says they were raised on television, and their standards have been lowered over the years. He says he quits, and he says they take drugs and naturally think it is funny. He repeats that he is quitting and walks out.
In a bookstore Isaac tells Yale that he made a terrible mistake. Yale says he will help him with money, but Isaac says he has enough for a year if he lives like Mahatma Gandhi. He says his accountant told him his stocks are down, and he is cash poor. Yale says it is hard to live in this town without money. Isaac says he has two alimonies and child support. He will have to give up his apartment, his tennis lessons, and will not be able to pick up the check at dinner. He will have to give his parents less money, and it may kill his father who will not have a good seat in the synagogue. Yale asks him about Tracy, and he says he has to get out of that situation because she is a young girl. He asks what happens if his book does not come out, but Yale says his book will come out and be wonderful. Yale says he will learn about himself, and he is really proud of him because it is a very good move.
At the Museum of Modern Art the Congresswoman Bella Abzug speaks to well dressed people and thanks them for coming. During the party Isaac congratulates an author on his book, and he introduces him to a couple of women. Mary sees him, and he asks her what she is doing there. The author heard that he quit his job, and Isaac says he is writing a book. He heard that Nazis are going to march in New Jersey, and he suggests that they should go down there to oppose them with baseball bats. The author says there is a devastating satirical piece on that on the editorial page of the Times. A woman says satire is always better than force, but Isaac says physical force is better with Nazis. Dennis (Michael O’Donoghue) with Mary says they were talking about orgasms; but she interrupts him and says she is from Philadelphia, and they don’t talk about those things in public. Isaac agrees with her. Dennis says he is about to direct a film about a man who screws so great that women become fulfilled and die; but Mary finds that hostile, and she says it is aggressive and homicidal. Mary says they have to forgive him because he is from Harvard and Beverly Hills. A woman says she finally had an orgasm, but her doctor told her it was the wrong kind. Isaac says he never had the wrong kind; even the worst one was good.
A cab drops off Isaac and Mary, and they walk and talk. He asks why she got divorced, and she says they fought a lot and she got tired of submerging her identity to a very brilliant, dominating man. He says she has called several people she knows geniuses, and he suggests she meet some stupid people for a change. She asks why he got a divorce, and he says his ex-wife left him for another woman. She says that must have been demoralizing. He says he took it well under the circumstances. He tried to run them over with a car. She imagines that must have been sexual humiliation. She says it could turn him off to women, and she thinks it accounts for the little girl. He says the little girl is fine. She understands that she is no threat at all. He tells Mary that she has a losing personality. She says she is honest, and if he can’t take it, it he can “fuck off.” He likes how she expresses herself in pithy and degenerate ways. He asks if she gets many dates, and she says she does. She never thought she was very pretty. She asks what is pretty and says it is so subjective. She says the brightest men drop dead in front of a pretty face. She says if you are giving in the sack, they are so grateful. He says he is. She asks if he has any kids, and he says he has one. She says she read that two women can be good parents, but he feels very few people survive only one mother. She says she has to walk her dog and asks if he wants to wait. He says sure and asks about her dog. She says it is a Dachshund and is a penis substitute for her. In that case he would have thought she would have a Great Dane.
Isaac and Mary walk with her dog.
In a restaurant Isaac asks Mary if she is serious about Yale, and she says he is married. She says she should straighten out her life. Her analyst Donny tells her that she gets involved in these situations deliberately. She was a student and got involved with her teacher Jeremiah, and he failed her even though she was sleeping with him. She fell in love with him and married him. He says he could have given her an incomplete, and she says he has a good sense of humor. He says he has been making good money off it for years, but now he quit his job to write a book. He pays for the food, and she asks if he wants to walk by the river. He asks her if she knows what time it is and says if he does not get sixteen hours sleep, he is a basket case. She would like to hear about his book and says she is a good editor. He says it is about decaying values. He says he wrote a story about his mother called “The Castrating Zionist,” and he wants to expand it into a novel. He says he could talk about his book all night.
Isaac and Mary are sitting on a bench at night next to a large bridge. They enjoy the beauty and the lights, and he says this is a great city. She says she has to go because she has an appointment with Yale for lunch. They walk with the dog.
Yale is on the phone in bed and says he is awake. He realizes that Isaac talked with Mary, and he says she is active in the feminist movement. He sees Emily come into the room and asks if he is going apartment hunting. He tells her it is Isaac and says he will find something. After she leaves the room, he says he knew he would see she is a terrific woman.
At a pay phone Isaac asks him if he still feels the same way about her and is disappointed he does. He agrees she is great and says he has to go apartment hunting today.
In a store Yale tells Mary that Isaac said he had a good time with her. She agrees that he is terrific, but she did not think he was comfortable around her. Yale says he missed her and holds her hand. She says he is married, and she is beginning to sound like one of those women; it is terrible. He suggests that he could move out. She says no; she does not want to break up his marriage. She is no longer looking for a big involvement there. She says it is crazy, and she thinks about him. He asks her what she wants him to do. She does not know and thinks she should see someone who is not married. He says she is so beautiful and tries to kiss her, but she tells him to stop it because they are in Bloomingdale’s. She says someone may see them. She says she may have an interview with Borges. He met him, and he feels comfortable around her. Yale wants to go somewhere and make love. She says not now, and he has a writing class in an hour, and his students will know because of his grin. He does not want to go to her place because he does not like her dog, and the telephone rings a lot. She asks if he could just hold her. She asks about warmth and spiritual contact. She suggests a hotel and admits that she is a pushover.
Connie (Karen Ludwig) answers the door, and Isaac asks if Willie is ready. He comes in and asks how Connie is doing. She says she is doing very well. Jill comes down and asks if he wants some coffee or something. He says no and asks how Willie is doing. Jill says he is fine; he is beginning to show talent for drawing. He asks where he got that because he and Jill don’t draw. Connie says she draws, but Isaac says she could not be the actual father. Jill asks him to take Willie the weekend of the 16th because she and Connie are going to Barbados. He asks if she is serious about writing the book. She says it is an honest book, and he has nothing to be ashamed of. Connie goes upstairs, and he asks Jill how she can prefer her to him while she is walking around the apartment doing chores. She says he knew her history when he married her. He says his analyst warned him, but she was so beautiful that he got another analyst. She asks if they could ever be just friends. He says she is going to put the details in the book, but she denies that. She says he tried to run Connie over with the car, and he says he was always a poor driver. She asks why he was lurking around the cabin. He admits he was spying on them because he knew they were falling in love. She asks why he felt he had to run her over with the car. He says he was driving slowly, but she says he ripped off the front porch of the cabin. He tells her to get the kid because he does not want to have that argument every time he comes over.
Isaac comes out with little Willie and a basketball, and they play with it as they run along the street. They point at two different model ships in a store window, and he goes in to buy one.
In a restaurant Isaac is wearing a T-shirt, and they give him a coat to wear. Willie asks why he can’t have frankfurters. Isaac says they could have picked up two beautiful women there.
In her apartment Mary calls Yale and says nothing is wrong. She suggests maybe they could go for a walk. They do not talk long, and she hangs up.
Isaac on his porch answers the phone and says he was looking at the magazine section. He likes the lingerie ads. Mary asks if he wants to go for a walk on a beautiful Sunday.
Isaac and Mary are running in the rain while trying to cover their heads with a newspaper. They go into a gallery, and she says he looks ridiculous. She says he is bothered by a little rain, but he does not want to get hit by lightning. She asks if she looks terrible, and he says she looks nice. They walk and talk while looking at pictures of the moon. She says Yale had to cancel on her last night, and he says he is married. She says her ex-husband was having an affair while she was married. She never mentioned it because she felt she was deficient or bad in bed or not bright enough or too unattractive. She says in the end he was a louse, though he was brilliant. She says she was crazy about him, and he opened her up sexually and taught her everything. She points out a picture of Saturn and names its satellites. He says he can’t name any of them, but fortunately they never come up in conversation. She says she has millions of facts; but he says there is nothing worth knowing that can be understood by the mind. He says everything valuable has to come through a different opening. She disagrees and asks where they would be without rational thought. He says she relies too much on her brain which is the most over-rated organ. She says he probably thinks she is too cerebral, and he agrees she is brainy. He asks what does it matter what he thinks. He wonders what she thinks of him. She says he is fine; he has a tendency to be a little hostile sometimes, but she finds that attractive. He is glad she does. She asks if he thinks she has no feelings. He says he never said that; she is so sensitive. He thinks she is terrific, but she is very insecure. She says it has probably stopped raining and asks if he wants to get something to eat. He says he has to see someone tonight. She asks about next week and if he is going to have any free time. He says he won’t have free time because he is working on this book. She says okay.
Yale is driving a Mustang and tells Emily that her parents were in a good mood. She asks who he called after dinner, and he says it was David Cohen who wants him to review another new book on Virginia Woolf. She asks if he is okay and says he seems nervous and distracted. He says he feels good, and he was going to ask her. She says she feels fine. He says she seemed strange at dinner, and she says she thought again about kids. He says he told Cohen he would stop by for the book and asks if it is okay with her. She says yes.
In a pizza restaurant Isaac tells Tracy he is glad she could come out tonight because he really wanted to see her. She says she likes it when he has an uncontrollable urge, and he says his boyish impetuosity is his best feature. She says she has an opportunity to go to London to study the arts. He says that is great, but she does not want to go without him. He says he can’t go to London. He says she should go because it is a great city and she is a wonderful actress. He says she should not pass it up. She asks what happens to them. He says she can’t think of that now. She says he won’t take her seriously because she is only 17. He says it is absurd because he is so much older. When she is 38, she will be at the height of her sexual powers, and he will be 63. He says he will too because he is a late bloomer. The pizzas arrive, and he asks her what she wants to do tonight. He says she can choose anything.
Tracy and Isaac are riding in a horse-drawn carriage in the park, and he kisses her. She tells him to quit fighting because she knows he loves her. He says she wins.
In her apartment Mary tells Yale this is crazy, and she can’t do it anymore. He is married, and she sits around with nothing to do. So she called Isaac. Yale says he is sorry. She says it is not his fault, but it is a no-win situation. She says she is beautiful and bright, and she deserves better. He says he could take some action, and she says she is not a home-wrecker. She wonders how she got into this situation. She answers the phone and tells Harvey he can bring it by for her to read it. She hangs up. He asks her what she wants him to do. She says nothing and says they are going no place. He says he loves Emily, but at her parents he was thinking about Mary. She does not want to hear about it. In her family no one had affairs or cheated. She answers the telephone and tells her analyst that maybe she could meet later in the week. He tries to put his hands on her, and she tells him no; this is a bad time for her. She has to think things through. He says he should not come there, and she agrees with that.
Isaac is moving into a smaller apartment, and movers bring in the furniture.
At night Isaac is in bed with Tracy, and he says a man is playing a trumpet. She wants to fool around, and he asks how many times she can make love in one night. She says a lot, and he says that is his favorite number. She asks if he would like to do it in a strange way nobody would ever do with him. He asks what kind of talk is that. She wants him to take her seriously, and he says he does. He hears rumbling and gets up to see if he can find out where it is coming from. He says he can’t sleep there tonight and asks where the aspirin is. She says she can help him fix up the place. He does not want her living there. Tonight is a special occasion because it is his first night in his new apartment. He says the water is brown, and she says the pipes are rusty. She says he is ignoring her, and she asks what is going to happen to them. He denies he is ignoring her and asks if he is a load of laughs. They are going to have fun, and then she is going to London. She will think of him as a fond memory.
At a table outside Yale tells Mary they have to stop seeing each other. She says she could tell by his voice on the phone; he was very authoritative. He says it is not fair to her, and he does not know what he is doing. He tells her not to be angry. She knew it would end this way, but she is upset. He says she does not want to make a commitment, and he has to start thinking about Emily. She is glad that one of them had the nerve to end it. He asks if she is all right. She says she is young, beautiful, and highly intelligent; she has everything going for her. She has been wasting herself on a married man. She says she wants to go now. She gives him tickets for Rampal tonight and urges him to take them and go with his wife. He tells her to take Isaac, and she gets angry and leaves.
Isaac brings a glass of water to Mary and warns her it is a little brown, but you can drink it. She apologizes for bothering him, and she takes a valium. He says it could cause cancer, but it is his theory. She knew it would not work out. He says she picked a married guy, and then it brings out her worst feelings. She tells him not to psychoanalyze her because she pays a doctor for that. He criticizes her doctor because she has low self-esteem. She notices the noise, and he says there is someone up there. He says he used to have a great apartment, but he can’t afford it. He asks if she wants to go for a walk because it is quieter in the street. She says no. She says Yale led her on and wonders why she did not criticize him. She thanks Isaac for letting her come over. He says he is going out with Tracy, and she can come along. She says no; she will be fine. She goes out.
Isaac and Tracy are sitting up in bed eating Chinese food while they watch television and talks about it.
Yale and Isaac are playing racquet ball and talking. Yale says that Mary said she finds Isaac attractive. Yale asks if he is serious about Tracy, and Isaac says she is too young. Yale urges him to call Mary because she thinks he is smart and attractive.
Isaac and Mary come out of a theater playing Chushingura and Dovzhenko’s Earth.
They come into her apartment, and Isaac says he likes W. C. Fields and Grand Illusion. He asks what she has to eat there and says the corned beef sandwich is from 1951. He kisses her, and she asks what he is doing. She says she cannot get her life in order, and he says he wanted to do that for the longest time. She knows that and thought he would kiss her at the planetarium; but he says she was going out with Yale then, and he would never do that. He asks if she wanted him to kiss her that day, and she says she was very angry at Yale. He says she was wet and looked so sexy that he wanted to throw her down on the lunar surface. She says she can’t go from relationship to relationship. He asks if she is still hung up on Yale, and she says she has too many problems. She is not someone to get involved with because she is trouble. He says trouble is his middle name. She laughs, and he kisses her.
In an art gallery Mary says that her problem is that she is both attractive and repelled by the male organ, and it does not help her relationships with men. She asks about his relationships with women. She asks about his first wife. He says she was a kindergarten teacher who got into drugs and moved to San Francisco, went into EST, became a Moonie, and now she is with the William Morris Agency. They discuss an abstract work of art.
At night Isaac and Mary are talking in a cab as they return from Brooklyn, and he says he is drunk.
In her apartment Mary is sitting in Isaac’s lap as they kiss. She turns out the light and asks what he is thinking.
Isaac waits for Tracy to come out of the Dalton School and takes her out for a milkshake. He likes the harmonica she gave him. She says she is in love with him; but he says they have been over that; she is a kid and can’t be in love with him. She says they laugh together; she cares about him; and they have great sex. He says she will have far more passionate relationships. She asks if he loves her, and he admits that he loves someone else. He says this was a temporary fling. She assumes he met someone. He tells her not to stare at him with those big eyes like a third-world child. She asks if he has been seeing someone, and he says he is seeing someone older, but not older than he is. She says she does not feel so good. He says it is not right for her to be hung up on him. She should open up her life. She says he keeps saying it is to her advantage to get out of it. He tells her not to be so smart. He is 42, and his hair is falling out. She is surprised he found someone he likes better than her. He asks why he should feel guilty; he has always urged her to go out with guys her own age. She starts crying, and he tells her not to cry. She tells him to leave her alone.
Isaac is lying on his bed and writing. He tries his harmonica.
Isaac is driving a car with Mary. They walk in the country.
Mary turns on a light, and she is in bed with Isaac. She says she loved being in the country. She says she feels better about herself and asks if he does. He says she was dynamite, but for about two seconds he thought she was faking a little, over-acting a little. She says she is still a little nervous around him. She would like everything to work out, and he says she should leave everything to him. He will make everything happy, and she does not have to worry. She asks if he promises, and he says yes. She likes him a lot. She says he is much different than her husbands. She says she could imagine having children with him, and he tells her to turn out the light.
Isaac and Mary are dancing in her apartment. They are in a row boat on a lake. They go window shopping.
Emily tells Isaac they never see him anymore. He asks why Yale is buying a car. He says they should ban cars from Manhattan. Isaac tells Yale that Emily wants to know why he never brings Mary around. Isaac asks if it is awkward for him, and Yale urges him to do so. Yale says he will love his new car.
Isaac and Mary go to see Yale and Emily. They attend a classical music concert with Mary sitting between Yale and Isaac.
Isaac and Mary walk on the street, and he says a building is almost torn down. He says he once tried to block a demolition. They go into a clothing store, and Mary runs into Jeremiah (Wallace Shawn), and she introduces him to Isaac. She says he lost a lot of weight and looks good. They chat and say goodbye. Isaac says he is not what he expected and calls him a homunculus. She says he is quite devastating, and he says it is amazing how subjective that stuff is.
Isaac is on the bed while Mary in another room is typing a novelization of a movie. He asks her why she is wasting her time with that. He suggests she try fiction. She answers the phone, and it is Yale from a pay phone. He asks if they can meet for coffee, and she asks why. He says he misses her and thought they could talk. She says that would not be possible. She says she is sorry and hangs up. Isaac asks who that was, and she says it was for free dance lessons.
In an apartment Isaac tells Emily that Viking loved his first four chapters, and she says Yale said they showed a lot of promise. Isaac says Mary laughed while reading them. He says she is doing a think piece on a rock star. Yale comes in, and Emily says he was supposed to be home an hour ago. He says he bought the car, and Emily tells him about Viking and Isaac’s book.
Yale drives his new sports-car with Emily, Isaac, and Mary. Isaac shows them his ex-wife Jill’s new book Marriage, Divorce, and Selfhood in the window of a store. On a pier Yale reads a passage in which she compared making love to a female as much better than the sex she had had with her husband. Emily reads a passage about Isaac’s fits of rage and other neuroses, and he feels terrible.
Isaac tells Jill he came there to strangle her, and she says she wrote nothing untrue. He says she made him appear like Lee Harvey Oswald. He turns to Connie for help, and she says he tried to run her over. Jill warns him that she is getting offers for the movie rights.
Isaac comes into his apartment and starts talking to Mary about seeing Jill as he gets a glass of brown water. She stops him and says she has something to tell him. He says she looks pale and asks what is wrong. Mary says she thinks she is still in love with Yale. He asks when this happened, and she says she started seeing him again today and wants to be open about it. He is shocked and surprised. She says she has always been in love with him. Isaac asks how he feels about it, and she says he wants to move out of his place so that they can live together. She says he called her several times in a depressed and confused state, and he still loves her. He says it is like a Noel Coward play. She does not blame him for being furious, but he says he is too stunned. She says he should get angry so that they can have it out. He says he does not express anger; he internalizes it; that is one of his problems. She says she was troubled from the beginning of their dating. He asks what her analyst said, and she says he is in a coma from a bad acid experience. Isaac says she is making a big mistake in preferring Yale to him. He says Yale has been married to Emily for twelve years. After a month away from her he will go crazy. He says if he does commit to her, then she will drop him. He gives it four weeks, and she says she can’t plan that far ahead. He says he knew she was crazy from the beginning. She says she is really sorry, and he gets up to go. She asks where he is going, and he says he has to get some air.
Isaac is walking on the street and knocks on the door of a classroom. Yale opens the door and comes out and goes into an empty room with him. Isaac calls him emotionally immature, and Yale says he always loved her. Isaac asks what kind of crazy friend he is. Yale says he introduced her to him. Isaac asks what was the point. Yale says he thought he liked her. Isaac says he does like her. Yale says he liked her first. Isaac asks if he is six years old. Yale says he thought it was over, or he would not have encouraged him to take her out. Isaac asks when he is going to change his mind again, and he asks how long before he was going to tell him he was seeing her again. Yale tells him not to turn this into one of his big, moral issues. Isaac says Yale could have called him, and he would have felt honest. Yale says he wanted to tell him about it because he knew it would upset him. He says they had a few innocent meetings. Isaac says she said one; they should get their stories straight. Yale says they met twice for coffee. Yale admits he is not a saint, but Isaac says he is too easy on himself. That is his problem. He is not honest with himself. He cheats on Emily and plays around with the truth with him. Yale calls Isaac self-righteous and says they are just human beings. He says Isaac thinks he is God, and Isaac says he has to model himself after someone. Yale says he cannot live that perfectly. Isaac points to the skeleton next to him and says someday they will be like him. Yale asks where he is going.
Isaac is listening to jazz and types. Isaac and Willie are making jack-o-lanterns out of pumpkins. Isaac takes him to play with his friends in a park.
Emily sits and tells Isaac that she knew that Yale had affairs, but she says marriage requires compromises. Isaac says he is not a compromiser and thinks it is a mistake to look the other way. He says you end up paying for it in the end. She saw what Jill wrote about him in that book. She asks if he is seeing anyone, and he says he never has a problem meeting women. He was thinking he missed a good bet when he let Tracy go. Emily says she always liked her. He says of all the women he knew he had the nicest times with her, but she was too young. Emily suggests he call her, but he says he would never do that. He blew that one by keeping her at a distance. He says she was so sweet and cared about him. Emily says she was pissed off at Isaac because if he had not introduced Mary to Yale, this might not have happened.
Isaac records on a tape an idea for a short story about people in Manhattan with neurotic problems that keep them from solving more terrifying problems of the universe. He asks why life is worth living. He says Groucho Marc, Willie Mays, the Jupiter Symphony, Louis Armstrong, Swedish movies, Flaubert, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, crab at a restaurant, Tracy’s face. He stops the tape and gets up. He gets out the harmonica and sits down and dials the phone. After a moment he hangs up and goes out.
Isaac runs on the street and walks to rest. He uses a pay phone and hangs up. He runs by a park. He looks in a building and sees Tracy with luggage combing her hair. She notices him at the glass door, and he comes in. She asks what he is doing there. He says he tried to call her on the phone, but it was busy. He asks where she is going, and she says London. He asks if he was two minutes later, would she have been gone to London, and she nods. He says he will get to the point. He thinks he made a mistake, and she shouldn’t go. He asks if she is going with anybody, and she says no. He asks her if she still loves him, and she says he pops up. He did not call her, and she asks what happened to the woman he met. He says he is not seeing her anymore. He says he made a mistake. She says she has to go to London because of all the plans and arrangements. He asks if she still loves him, and she asks if he still loves her. He says he does; that is what this is about. She says she turned eighteen the other day. Now she is legal, but she is still a kid. He says she is not such a kid; in some countries they could draft her. He says she looks good, and she says he really hurt her. He says it was not on purpose. She says she will be back in six months. She asks what is six months if they love each other. He tells her not to be so mature. He says that is a long time. She will be meeting actors and directors. She will change and be a completely different person. She asks if he wants her to have those experiences; a while ago he made a convincing case. She says she has to make a plane. She asks why he did not bring this up last week. She asks him to have faith in people. He smiles at her.
This romantic comedy portrays intellectual writers and a girl who is remarkably mature as they interact in relationships. The temptations of modern life can cause people to change relationships more often, but they have to deal with the feelings arise.