29 September, 2006

My Heroes (18) Woody Allen

"My one regret in life is that I am not somebody else"
I adore the films of Woody allen He has been making about one movie per year for the last forty years and his output is probably better received in Europe than in the USA. Some are better than others it’s true but very many of his fims are classics. My personal choices would be Manhattan, Annie Hall, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Small Time Crooks & Bullets Over Broadway.
I love the sequence in Bullets Over Broadway where a gangster is keeping an eye on his boss's talentless moll (who has been shoe-horned into a part in a play) and while he sits in the stalls at rehearsals he gets interested in the play and begins to suggest improvements and eventually takes over the direction to the dismay of the author John Cusack. Another great sequence is in Small Time Crooks; a gang takes over a bakery shop next to a bank. They plan to dig a tunnel over a long period and rob the bank. The robbery fails but the bakery is an enormous success and they become millionaires! Great stuff!
There are several strong distinguishing features and recurring themes in Woody's films. Some are obvious and well-known such as his often repeated portrayal of a nerdy nervous New Yorker who always seems to attract beautiful women and the way he often portrays himself, or his leading man, as a writer or film director. The credits to his films are always white on a black background and non-rolling and he favours the technique of using long and medium shots to film a conversation instead of the more usual chop and edit style cutting from one speaker to another.
The films often have minor characters caught up in a sub-plot where a couple have a very dysfunctional love-life and his technique of turning to the camera and addressing the audience directly was best shown in this sequence from Annie Hall:
MAN: It's the influence of television. Now, now Marshall McLuhan deals with it in terms of it being a, a high-- high intensity, you understand? A hot medium--
WOODY ALLEN: What I wouldn't give for a large sock with horse manure in it.
MAN: -- as opposed to the truth which he [sees as the] media or--
WOODY ALLEN: What can you do when you get stuck on a movie line with a guy like this behind you?
MAN: Now, Marshall McLuhan--
WOODY ALLEN: You don't know anything about Marshall McLuhan's work--
MAN: Really? Really? I happen to teach a class at Columbia called TV, Media and Culture, so I think that my insights into Mr. McLuhan, well, have a great deal of validity.
WOODY ALLEN: Oh, do you?
MAN: Yeah.
WOODY ALLEN: Oh, that's funny, because I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here. Come over here for a second?
MAN: Oh--
WOODY ALLEN: Tell him.
MARSHALL McLUHAN: -- I heard, I heard what you were saying. You, you know nothing of my work. How you ever got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing.
WOODY ALLEN (To camera):Boy, if life were only like this.
I cannot count the number of times that I would have liked to have my own 'McLuhan' to produce whenever neccessary and I always recall that scene.


Blogger benny said...

Woody Allen is unusual: and he came into popularity with Inside Woody Allen, a comic strip series. At least this is how I approached his Manhattan. And it delighted me. Since then I enjoy his movies.
He is a genius.

Friday, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Natalie said...

Love this guy. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE "Everyone Says I Love You". I din't think many people really like this film but I think it is genius. I also love a musical so maybe I am biased. The story is just great though. I don't know if I have seen one of his films I hated. Some I like more than others of course but none worth hating. Thats an accomplishment.

Friday, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Rob said...

I don't know much about him except for his famous quip about death:

"I don't mind dying but I don't want to be there when it happens."

Friday, September 29, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woody Allen is fantastical.

Nate Smith

Friday, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Cornealius said...

Yes Bazza, Woody Allen is the greatest. He is absolutly my favorate comic ever.

"I used to be afraid of dying until i relised what the alternative was."

Friday, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Cornealius said...

Sleeper is another movie that for me is one of Allen's best. Also id really recomend his books, hes has written 3 collections of short stories which are all hilarious

Friday, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Cornealius said...

Also does anyone else think that Decostructing Harry is another of his best, i think the movie is criminaly underated

Friday, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Polly said...

I even loved "Another Woman," "Interiors" and "Deconstructing Harry." Although it's hard to pick a favorite, if I had to pick only one to watch over and over think I'd choose "Manhattan." I dearly love the "what makes life worth living" scene.

And by the way, thanks for the tip on putting the "bestest blog" logo in my sidebar! I really appreciate that.


Friday, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Julie said...

LOVE Bullets Over Broadway. DON'T SPEAK, DAVID! NO! Definitely my fav of his.

Friday, September 29, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, bazza. I had forgotten about that sequence from Annie Hall. I think Woody Allen lost some of his luster in the U.S. when he married Mia Farrow's daughter. But that sequence with Marshall McLuhan shows his brilliance. How many of us have been affected by his work? I know I have.

Friday, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Stephen Simmonds said...

I used to watch his films a fair bit, but I've tapered off now.

But I did give some words of praise for Woody Allen recently... let me see... here.
Play It Again Sam had an unexpected warmth to it. I say unexpected as someone more used to his later films, where the warmth was of a different quality, dare I say a little more distant.

Friday, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

benny: Hi, Benny. I don’t know of ‘Inside Woody Allen’. It sounds like something worth checking out, thanks.

natalie: Hello Natalie. I do like the scene, I think it’s by a canal, when the characters are singing and they begin to fly. Generally, the story in the films is very strong and I agree that it’s hard to dislike any one of them.

rob: He is rather obsessed about death, Rob. He also said, “I don't want to achieve immortality through my work...I want to achieve it through not dying.”

nate: Yes Nate, his work is certainly fantasticalistic.

cornealious: Hi, Corn’. He was wonderful as a stand-up comic and I have read ‘Without Feathers’ but not the other of his books. ‘Sleeper’ is a riot; some people would say that film was made when he used to be funny but it’s just that he has added other dimensions since then. There are plenty of Woody’s ‘death’ quotes out there!

polly: Thanks for visiting Polly. Sadly, ‘Deconstucting Harry’ is one of the few of his films that I have not seen. I’d better fix that ASAP! Glad the sidebar thing worked for you, you should wear your ‘Bestest Blog’ banner proudly!

julie: Oh yes! Diane Weist was terrific in that role. And so was John Cusack opposite her.

gem: Yes, Gem, for a short while that happened in the UK too but he soon recovered. He does tend to polarise people though. I have to stop myself from always quoting from his films in case I become boring!

stephen: I did check out that post, Stephen, and it’s very well written and a point well made. The surprising thing about ‘Play It Again Sam’ is that, although he wrote and starred in it – he did not direct it! Maybe that’s why you find it different to his other films. I think one of the interesting points about Woody Allen movies is that, although they cover a wide range of styles, from the romance of ‘Annie Hall’ to the technical creativity of ‘Zelig’ and from the moral dilemmas examined in ‘Crimes and Misdemeanours’ to the slapstick of ‘Bananas’ they are all, love ‘em or loathe ‘em, distinctly Woody Allen movies.

Friday, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Mimi Lenox said...

I haven't seen many of his films but now I'm intrigued. Thanks! It's nearly 3am and I can't sleep. So glad I read this post. A movie is just what the doctor ordered.

Friday, September 29, 2006  
Blogger jim said...

Bazza, this one is a great! If I could arrange it I would see all of his pics and read all his books. Good or bad, they would be worth the time, something to them all. He is like catching or overhearing a conversation, prolonged, on the street, more real than any 'real tv'. Thanks, I enjoyed reading your post about him.

Saturday, September 30, 2006  
Blogger jim said...

And it is not 'him', it is strictly his Art, that I find interesting. He makes 'performance Art'.

Saturday, September 30, 2006  
Blogger jim said...

What I mean, is that there is a big difference in his 'acting' and the normal 'acting' of a regular actor/actress. His writing and directing is like this too, this kind of difference.

Saturday, September 30, 2006  
Blogger Deepak Gopi said...

Woody Aleen is a genius.
It it bit difficult to act and direct at the same time.
My favorite Woody Allen movie is
"Hollywod Ending"
(I retrieved my lost blog)

Saturday, September 30, 2006  
Blogger samuru999 said...

I think I have seen almost all of his movies!
Woody Allen is AMAZING!

Saturday, September 30, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

mimi: There’s always a new Woody Allen movie in the pipeline! But you would probably sleep through it!

jim: It is a very natural style, almost like ‘cinema veritie’ and there is definitely an air of ‘overheard conversation’ in his scriptwriting.

deepak: I have often wondered about the physical difficulty of acting and directing at the same time. You may be right about him being a genius.

samuru999: If you’ve seen them all, then you’ve seen more than I have. But I will see them all eventually

Saturday, September 30, 2006  
Blogger Imemine said...

I don't remember seeing Woody Allen in a film. I've never seen any of his films, I guess. I know about him only from the scandal.
Maybe I should hire a DVD.
Richard Burton, however is on Dutch TV tonight playing in The Heretic. Or Excorcist 2 at 00.25. I might see it.

Saturday, September 30, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

Hello Imemine. Either you have a huge satellite dish on your roof or you are in The Netherlands.
As you may have gathered from the post & comments he has made a lot of different types of film. If you want to check them out, I think any of the ones mentioned would be a good starting point.

Sunday, October 01, 2006  
Blogger dumbdodi said...

Hi Bazza...sorry for stopping by here after such a loooooooooooooooong time...:-)
I love woody allen too and I loved the movie Annie Hall as well and I could remember that scene.

Sunday, October 01, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

In my much younger days living in small town America, Woody Allen was considered subversive. A danger to every red-blooded American mother's son. He drove the rednecks crazy, which is probably why I enjoyed his movies so much.

Monday, October 02, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

dumbdodi: You are most welcome to look in whenever you can! Apologies not neccessary.

slaghammer: Something tells me that you were/area bit of a rebel! I can see how New York Jewish would appear to people in those towns where a population of two thousand has only three surmanes between them!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006  

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