Friday, June 6, 2008

The Transplendent Woody Allen

As I mentioned in my previous posts, the brilliant Woody Allen is a
favorite here at the Manor. A multi talented director, writer, actor,
comedian, playwright and musician, he has garnered countless
awards, nominations and distinctions.

But it all boils down to one thing. I like him because he makes me
laugh. As soon as his familiar black and white credits, set to jazz,
start to roll, I know giggles are in store. In most of his older films, he
portrays himself, a neurotic writer, wearing his trademark thick,
black 1960's style glasses, corduroy pants and tweed jacket. He
pokes fun at his own neurotic persona and phobias by often including
a funny psychoanalysis scene in his movies.

Allen’s films span a wide range. His earliest films are full of screwball
comedy. Annie Hall (1977) includes more sophisticated humor and
Interiors (1979) introduces his darker dramas. Many of his works in
the 1980’s combine both comedy and tragedy. Born Allen Stewart
Konigsberg, in Brooklyn, to a Jewish family, he often portrays his
ethnicity, as well as bases many of his films in his beloved New York.

And have you ever noticed that he often includes an opera in many
of his films? The L.A. Opera is fortunate enough to support him in his
operatic directional debut in their 2008-09 season! Love and Death
(1975), Annie Hall (1977), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and
Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) are a few of my personal
favorites, that star the hilarious Woody, himself. In more recent
films, he has cast other actors in the roll he would normally play, but
in my little book, no one can quite fill his shoes...or should I say his

Click (here) for Woody's opening monologue in Annie Hall.


  1. I am the first to say I love Annie Hall and Murder in Manhattan (think that was the title), also with Diane Keaton. Have you read Woody's short stories? Love Eleanor

  2. Oh Willow...nice post about Woody Allen. I have so enjoyed his early movies and like you, they've made me laugh. My favorite of all is Radio Days with Mia Farrow...have you seen it?

  3. Eleanor, no I haven't read his short stories. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll add them to my library list. I love, love, love Diane Keaton!

    DeeDee, yes, how did I forget Radio Days? That one is the funniest!!

  4. Woody Allen is an original. I like his earlier stuff, around Annie Hall time. His later works, I either haven't seen, or have seen but have been unimpressed. I saw Mighty Aphrodite recently for the first time. I didn't like it at all.

    I loved the other movies you mentioned... Hannah and Her Sisters, Radio Days, Annie Hall...the old cast of actors he used to use regularly had more charm, I think, than the newer batch.

    He is a comic genius but after reading his ex's autobiography, (Mia Farrow's "What Falls Away"), that has coloured my opinion of him.

  5. Lavinia, his older films are classics, aren't they? One of the newer ones that I really enjoyed was Matchpoint with Scarlet Johansen and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. It's very well would like it.

    Like most talented artists, his personal life has had it's share of ups and downs. But that doesn't effect my enjoyment of his work.

  6. Willow, come to think of it, I did see Matchpoint! But it wasn't a comedy....I liked it, I really liked that it was set and filmed in London and all that wonderful London was a drama, with some tension....yes, I saw it and I liked it.

  7. Your post reminds me that Hannah and Her Sisters is one of my all time favorites. I love the theological stuggles he puts himself through in that film!

  8. I had to get used to his humor. Took me a while, didn't know what all the hype was about, but I've come to like some of his work. I do like Match Point--dark, twisted comedy. Funny.

  9. I saw Bananas at an early and impressionable age. Until that point I had no idea anyone could be that funny. In terms of mind expanding events this was second only, or perhaps right up there with, my first encounter (on television, not in person) with James Brown.

  10. "Hannah and Her Sisters" was my favorite Allen movie, and also "Manhattan," especially the "Rhapsody In Blue" playing in the beginning.
    His personal debaucheries with minors disturbed me however. It's tarnished my opinion of him, I'm afraid.

  11. Willow,
    I don't have any dvds of Woody Allen. He is funny though. I think my favorite movie of his is "Sleepers"... so hilarious.
    The Bach

  12. Woody Allen....Bizare and funny.

  13. Would you believe I've never seen one? In my next life.....the empty nest stage....if I ever get to that! tee-hee!

  14. I'm a HUGE Woody Allen fan. Great post about the king of neuroses. In "Hannah and Her Sisters," when they're discussing Nietzsche's ideas about life recurring, he says "Great; that means I'll have to sit through the Ice Capades again." Cracked me up.

  15. Like dee dee said...Radio Days! I watch it every New Years Eve. The perfect movie for that night.

    Take The Money and Run, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Zelig are big favs of mine.

  16. my fave is annie hall. both diane keaton and woody are fantastic in this one! i always wanted to dress like the annie hall character. i enjoyed this post!!

  17. Anyone who can include lines about Kierkegaard and Spinoza in comedy - and still get laughs has got to be good - and Woody Allen has and is.

  18. I was introduced to Woody Allen with 'Sleeper' which I enjoyed immensely. However, it was a very slapstick film and that made it easy to engage with. I've not really got to grips with his other films. IN fact, I'm not sure that his sense of humour translates so well across the pond here. I know very few British full-on Woody fans here. Everyone agreea that he makes good films but there only seems to be a handful of moments in each film that make us laugh out loud. Maybe it's because Woody's life in, what is to us, a foreign country just doesn't resonate? He mentions people and places and TV and sports personalities that we just don't know as we don't share the same history ... in much the same way that a lot of British TV and film comedies - especially older ones - would have a lot of Americans scratching their heads in bemused confusion.

    But you can't fault the man's writing or his comic delivery. Nice post Willow!

  19. Woody Allen is a character who knows how to play characters.

  20. I really do like Robert Osborne, but I never could get into Woody Allen. I'm the same way about some authors, I read about three chapters of books people have touted highly and I lose it. Woody may have been too subtle to suit my taste in comedy. Nice tribute anyway. You do wonderful reviews.

  21. I loved Annie Hall...haven't seen it in years. Talk about a movie that started a clothing craze...

  22. I've never been a Woody Allen fan but I did see Match Point and like it. I think I will put Hannah and Her Sisters on my Netflix list and give it a try.

  23. Here's a full-on British Woody Allen fan! That's a great picture Willow... well done for finding it. I love Allen's books of collected humorous writings too, just brilliant.

  24. Willow, we definitely have this in common. I love Woody Allen and my favourites are the same as yours: Love and Death (1975),
    Annie Hall (1977), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and Manhattan
    Murder Mystery (1993)!

    Whenever my wife and kids are gone I like to watch one of these classics. He so makes me laugh. It;s funny as I think I am a bit like him--not something to admit I know! I even dream I ma a Woody Allen James Bond where nothing ever works--water guns that shoot sideways, and so on. Sometimes when I wake up I have a good chuckle!

    The only thing I don't like about Allen is that his movies obsess about adultery and of course, his sordid affair with his stepdaughter doesn't help matters. That aside though, his earlier stuff in particular is wonderful. I haven't seen Matchpoint but would like to--just concerned it will make me homesick again!


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)