Woody Allen. Genius. One of the great writers and filmmakers of this century. At aged 15 he was already selling witty one-liners to gossip columns for $200 a week, which was a great chunk of money in those days.
He later moved on to write jokes for talk shows but felt that his jokes were being wasted. His agents convinced him to start doing stand-up so he could tell his own jokes. Although he performed with such fear of the audience that he would cover his ears when they applauded his jokes, he eventually became successful at stand-up.
After performing on stage for a few years, he was approached to write a script for Warren Beatty to star in: “What’s New Pussycat?” and would also have a moderate role as a character in the film. As production went on he gave himself more and better lines and left Beatty with less compelling dialogue. Beatty inevitably quit the project and was replaced by Peter Sellers, who demanded all the best lines and screen time. It was from this experience that Woody realized that he could not work on a film without complete control over its production.
Woody’s theoretical directorial debut was in “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?” which was a Japanese spy flick that he dubbed over with his own comedic dialogue about spies searching for the secret recipe for egg salad. His real directorial debut came the next year in the mockumentary “Take the Money and Run.” He has written, directed and, more often than not, starred in about a film a year ever since while simultaneously writing more than a dozen plays and several books of comedy.
While best known for his romantic comedies of “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan,” Woody has made many transitions in his films throughout the years, transitioning from his “early, funny ones” of “Bananas,” “Love and Death” and “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask;” to his more romantic comedies of “Annie Hall,” “Manhattan” and “Hannah and Her Sisters;” to the Bergman-esque films of “Stardust Memories” and “Interiors;” and then on to the more recent, but varied works of “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “Husbands and Wives,” “Mighty Aphrodite,” “Celebrity” and “Deconstructing Harry;” and finally to his film of the last decade, which vary from the light comedy of “Scoop,” to the self-destructive darkness of “Match Point” and, most recently, to the cinematically beautiful tale of “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”
Although his stories and style have changed over the years, he is regarded as one of the best filmmakers of our time because of his views on art and his mastery of filmmaking.
His scandals are so few that you can count them on your hand. One. One big one that left him ostracized by some of the public decades later. It was in the early 90’s when he assumed a relationship with his long time girlfriend’s (Mia Farrow) adopted daughter when the girl was 20.
Although he wasn’t the girl’s father, because that would even weirder, still “some” of the public had a difficult time comprehending this morally. He is still with her and they are married almost two decades later.
Did I flinch when this happened and it hit the press? No, not really. I never paid much attention to his personal life and what he was doing and nor did I give a shit. That whole dynamic is between he and Mia Farrow. I read the article then forgot about it. I read it with aloof detachment and moved onto the next thing. I don’t have the energy to bathe in toxic judgment the way humanity and society does.
Did it hurt his career? No. In fact, some of his best work was released after that attracting nearly every major movie star wanting to work with him. The decade of the 90’s he was happening all over again writing and directing some truly entertaining films. The movie that came out after the scandal has been one of my longtime favorites of his, “Husbands & Wives”.
There’s not much for me to say about Woody Allen personally because he keeps that well hidden and private. He’s even commented that no one would find anything on him as he’s pretty basic. You’ll find his same favorite mug sitting on the kitchen table a month later. When he dies he’ll be remembered for this one little scandal.
Where he does excel are in his movies which are entertaining vignettes about life. Not everyone will get his humor or his style, but I am not one of those people. I’ve been a lover of his films since I first came across them.
He’s made so many films that include his early work such as Take the Money and Run, Interiors, Broadway Danny Rose, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Radio Days, Shadows & Fog, Sweet and Lowdown, Hollywood Ending, Anything Else, Match Point, Scoop and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.
However, some of my personal favorites that I recommend because they’re my favorites are: