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"pretty poor pieces of filmmaking"

I would agree with this statement in regards to "Bananas", but I love, "Take the Money and Run". I don't care if it's bad. I still laugh at him playing the cello in the marching band and still laugh at the bank discussion over whether or not he has a "gub".

Tom Clarke

What happened to Play It Again Sam?


I soooo agree with you. I may place Bullets and Aphrodite a bit higher, but otherwise you are spot on in every sentence of this post!


Thanks, Coturnix. Great minds etc...

Tom, I love Play It Again, Sam. Or I loved it. Haven't seen it in forever. But I didn't include it because he didn't direct it. Think I should have anyway?


Bananas is pretty darn funny too, but they're both still apprentice work. They hold a special place in my heart nonetheless.

David W.

Enough of the irrelevant movie critisism already. If Woody kisses Scarlett Johansson on screen, we all know that Lance is going to slash the movie screen into shreds. Sure, Bill Murray can get away kissing her on screen because we all can identify with Bill. But with Woody, all we can think about is "why does that schmuck get the girl and I don't?" If Uma Thurman stars in the next Woody film, we may have to do an intervention for poor Lance... :-)


I'm glad somebody enjoys his movies, but I sure don't. His visions of Manhattan free of those annoying colored people offend me. His tangling with female beauties one-third his age, both onscreen and in real life, repulse me. And his patriarchal moralizing makes me want to slap him over the head. Yuck.


I was also wondering if the whole Woody Allen post wasn't just another way for Lance to discuss another blonde obsession.

Cryptic Ned

Three notes:

See Celebrity - I think it's my favorite of his aside from the obvious Manhattan/Annie Hall. It reminded me a lot of Nashville...and the Branagh character's obsession with the Winona Ryder character is really well drawn.

I think any category that includes Broadway Danny Rose should include Radio Days, because I don't have a single memory of either of them that I can place in one or the other movie. They were, like, similar and stuff.

Small Time Crooks was insanely awful, except for the first half hour. As soon as the news camera crew appears to document the fantastically successful cookie business, just stop watching - you'll be glad you did.

Cryptic Ned

Also, Sweet and Lowdown definitely isn't "no Woody". You may have forgotten its framing device of being a Ken Burns-style documentary, with Woody among the talking heads and jazz experts who introduce various scenes.


Ned, you're right. I completely forgot about the framing device in S and L. I'm not sure how much that counts though.


You should see Match Point, Woody is baaaaaaacck!


Although I haven't seen as many Woody Allen movies as you have, Annie Hall and Hannah and her Sisters are at the top of my list. Nope, it's not a tie...Annie Hall is at the tippy top!


I'd put Broadway Danny Rose in my top 5. It's not "serious Woody," but it's a brilliantly made comedy, and a great tribute to a now-vanished showbiz world. It also contains what I think is Woody's single best performance in any film, which has perhaps been overshadowed by Mia Farrow's wonderful playing against type.

"I don't see you folding balloons in joints. Stick with me and you're gonna be folding balloons in colleges and universities."

Exiled in NJ

He reached an apex with Purple Rose, Hannah and Crimes and headed downhill from there.

I agree with Matt about Danny Rose, which in a way is the Sweet/Lowdown about the comedy world, except that there documentarians are sitting in a diner. Bullets is a perfect illustration of having no Woody making things better, and what is odd is that sometimes I see Cusack reverting to his own Woody mannerisms in later films. Zelig may be slight, but it added an adjective to our world.

I realize we should respect the artist and not care about the man and his personal life, but it's so hard with Allen and others. Suddenly this summer [good title for film?] I began an inner boycott of Tom Cruise films too.


i'm glad you liked deconstructing harry- i thought i was the only one who did. part of
what made it work for me was that he gave the jejune philosopher a rest. as if he relaxed, realized he's a creepy jerk, but a very funny one and got some energy from it.

cali dem

I agree with most of this, Lance except for Manhattan Murder Mystery - I liked it more than you. I would bump it up a notch.

Best Woody Allen films: Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters. Hope to see Match Point tomorrow. Was going skiing but looks like rainy day.

he who is known as sefton

darn, you missed TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN =

WELL, while I'm here, here's something for you to ruminate:

okay, let's say you'd like to learn about an actual political campaign to impeach the president ...

ah, none of this noise about a yearning for somebody to go do it ...

in addition, you'd like to learn about a game plan to snag Osama ...

if all the above meets with your approval, then click, somehow, on the following hyperlink:

and get ready for a ride on a wild blog

.he who is known as sefton

oh, yes, the above was copied and then pasted by an actual human being, who visited this eponymous "Lance Mannion" blog.


I love Woody Allen, and most of all appreciated your point about the way in which Allen suffers from comparisons to his own work. For some reason, this happens to him more than any other director I can think of. Whether this is because of similarity in style across his works or something I couldn't say. I just cannot imagine the horror of having everything you do compared to something as incredible as "Manhattan." Quite a deal of injustice there I think.

It reminds me of an anecdote (potentially untrue) I heard about Joseph Heller when somebody told him he hadn't written anything since as good as "Catch-22" and Heller replied, "who has?"

That said, this discussion criminally ignores "What's new pussycat" from the list of early "funny ones." While not directed by Woody, it was written by him and makes for a great evening (Peter O'Toole and Peter Sellers as well as Woody are all awesome).

Also, I think Zelig is one of my pet favorites, undervalued in the list. I love the cameos from Saul Bellow, Susan Sontag, and Irving Howe, and it has the added irony of becoming an illustration of educational decline in Allan Bloom's "Closing of the American." And, on top of all that, it has the scene with the rake.

Ultimately, however, as I've seen each film I have a similar list of favorites, but when judging each one individually on its own merits, I've never been dissappointed. Even in the era of his so-called decline, his films are ones I've never regretted seeing in the theatre or otherwise. I'd rather just worship him and wish so much of the rest out there could aspire to be as productive and enjoyable as him.

Kevin Wolf

Man, everybody's got something to say about Woody Allen. What I hear most often is "Can't stand him!" with the implied comment that they can't stand his movies either.

I think that's what you're onto with the idea that he suffers from comparison to his own movies (earlier, funnier or whatever his last good one was). His movies are so clearly Woody Allen movies that some people can't get around that.

Me, I have no problem getting around that. I can take or leave his movies based on their individual quality. I'm not cowed by the fan view of taking into account that it's a Woody Allen movie any more than I'd hold that against a given film.

This is the long way around saying that I disagree with a lot of the received wisdom on which of Woody's movies are good and which are bad. (Manhattan no longer interests me.) I'm also less impressed overall than you are, Lance, with his career output. And I've been so turned off by the direction of the more recent work I've watched (or tried to watch) that I haven't seen a single one of the truly new Woody movies. (Husbands and Wives was unwatchable, Judy Davis notwithstanding, and Mighty Aphrodite was just too thematically creepy. That's about where I got off the Woody Allen train.)

I think maybe I've also overdosed on Allen's weirdly hermetic view of New York City. Having lived there, I can tell you it ain't nothin' like one of his movies. It's okay to have your own take on the city, but one must on occasion leave the upper west side, musn't one?

And, not meaning to hammer you, pal, because this is an excellent post but not listing Stardust Memories somewhere is not being honest somehow.

The only Allen DVD I own is Radio Days. It's got something you might not associate with Woody: charm. Anybody reading this blog should give it a try.

Oddly, I also think one of the best moments in a Woodman picture is in Stardust Memories: Woody's eating breakfast while his lover (Charlotte Rampling) lies on the floor reading the paper. Not reading, really, just browsing as she becomes aware he's looking at her. The camera is from his vantage as we take a long, luxurious look at her coyly glancing back between flipping pages of the paper while music plays in the background. Beautiful.

the clam

I'll briefly add my two cents.

After reading this post and the links, I can't wait to see Match Point.

You're right about Kevin Kline.

When younger actors impersonate Woody Allen, it's a distraction for me. Nails on a chalk board. Can't get passed it.

Ok. That was three cents. Isn't that just like me.

That is all.

the clam

"It's got something you might not associate with Woody: charm."

Kevin Wolf -- you're breakin' my heart.


esposito, I probably should have included Pussycat and, as Tom Clarke suggests, Play it Again, Sam in a special category.

But what do I do with Casino Royale?

David W., as it happens, I don't identify with Bill Murray in Lost in Translation. The movie I identify with him in is What About Bob?

"Baby steps, baby steps."


I'm with Matt...I love Broadway Danny Rose. Think it is a hell of lot more than a minor movie. Mina Farrow's line "Look see, I don't want no crap...I don't want no shit" should be enshrined as the motto of New Yorkers.


Is now the time to say I really liked the book The Woody by Peter Lefcourt?

Woody Allan doesn't do it for me however.

Leftist Boddhisatva

Woody is a wildly brilliant talent, but I have to admit, as much as I love so many of his movies (Stardust is among my favorites), I find the campy, neurotic, self-obsessed character grating, annoying, and a distraction. And yet, that's part of his shtick, a security blanket that was his path to success in the early days of his career. That neurotic, self-obsessed character he plays made his career.

I wish that he would get rid of it. He should have done so in the 70s.


The Allen film that I have always thought was underrated is Manhattan Murder Mystery which I think succeeded perfectly at what it set out to do which was to bring back the feel of the husband and wife comedy mysteries of the 1930s like The Thin Man series and films like The Ex-Mrs. Bradford and The Mad Miss Manton.

Another film I have always loved is Love and Death which was very reminiscent of his great New Yorker stories.


I'd have a little bit of re-arranging on your list, Lance, but not much. I think that being prolific can harm an artist sometimes, in that if he can turn out something good so often, his output much not have anything truly great in it. Also, the American general public still hasn't gotten over Soon Yi, and the "ew" factor from that relationship colors a lot of commentary about him, I think.


Everything on your "bad Woody" list I loved. But let's just address one of the ones you put there. Interiors is a masterpiece. How you can trivialize such a great film is beyond me.

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