Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Alvy

Your favourite Woody Allen

What is your favorite Woody Allen film?   45 members have voted

  1. 1. What is your favorite Woody Allen film?

    • What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966)
      1
    • Take the Money and Run (1969)
      1
    • Bananas (1971)
      1
    • Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask (1972)
      0
    • Sleeper (1973)
      1
    • Love and Death (1975)
      3
    • Annie Hall (1977)
      8
    • Interiors (1978)
      0
    • Manhattan (1979)
      6
    • Stardust Memories (1980)
      0
    • A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)
      0
    • Zelig (1983)
      1
    • Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
      0
    • The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
      8
    • Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
      8
    • Radio Days (1987)
      0
    • September (1987)
      1
    • Another Woman (1988)
      0
    • Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
      11
    • Alice (1990)
      0
    • Shadows and Fog (1992)
      0
    • Husbands and Wives (1992)
      0
    • Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)
      0
    • Bullets Over Broadway (1994)
      2
    • Mighty Aphrodite (1995)
      2
    • Everyone Says I Love You (1996)
      0
    • Deconstructing Harry (1997)
      0
    • Celebrity (1998)
      0
    • Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
      0
    • Small Time Crooks (2000)
      0
    • The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001)
      0
    • Hollywood Ending (2002)
      0
    • Anything Else (2003)
      0

Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.

103 posts in this topic

Favourite and/or greatest Woody Allens, please.

Also, there seems to be a consensus that he kind of hit the skids at some point in his career. When do you think it all went wrong? And what have been the redeeming films for you out of his later career?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alvy wrote:

: Favourite and/or greatest Woody Allens, please.

Well, The Purple Rose of Cairo is in my all-time top three, so ...

: Also, there seems to be a consensus that he kind of hit the skids at some

: point in his career. When do you think it all went wrong?

A couple years ago, I watched 19 of his feature films in chronological order, from 1972's Bananas to 1992's Shadows and Fog, in just a few months, and one thing I came to realize was that his career was always a little uneven. But he really did hit some high spots.

He was pretty much just a gag man until 1975's Love and Death, which saw him dealing with more serious themes (but still all in the service of comedy -- he parodied Bergman and Tarkovsky, rather than imitate them). His next film, 1977's Annie Hall, was the climax of this part of his career, and a surprisingly touching and bittersweet film, considering all that had come before. He fumbled a bit for a few years after that, though, beginning in 1978 with his ultra-serious imitation-Bergman flick Interiors, before he hit his stride with a few bittersweet and sometimes rather creative flicks that starred Mia Farrow -- I'd say this period, which includes 1985's Purple Rose, began with 1983's Zelig and ended with 1987's Radio Days. Then he got all Bergman-esque again, with very mixed results ranging from the bad (1987's September) to the interesting (1988's Another Woman) to the good (1989's Crimes and Misdemeanors). This was followed by a few lame flicks (1990's Alice, Shadows and Fog), one bracingly nasty (and therefore "honest", in the opinion of some) scandal-plagued divorce flick (1992's Husbands and Wives), one just-for-a-lark exercise in genre (1993's Manhattan Murder Mystery), and what I consider his last truly funny film, 1994's Bullets over Broadway (which did win a second Oscar for Diane Wiest, and secured nominations for a few other people, too). (The 1998 cartoon Antz was truly funny, too, but that doesn't really count.) Everything since then, however, has seemed increasingly stale -- Mira Sorvino did win an Oscar for 1995's Mighty Aphrodite, and I think other actors have been nominated for his later films, too (Samantha Morton for 1999's Sweet and Lowdown, maybe?), but I don't think anyone looks to his films for greatness or inspiration or industry cachet any more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dare I say this? Peter's most glaring error has to be the omission of Manhattan. I really don't care about the after the fact meaning of his affair with a high school senior (Muriel Hemmingway). This is a fine film. Take away Interiors and you have a double crest of Annie Hall and Manhattan (with a rather fine foothill lead in of Love & Death). That's a good career for anyone, right there. It's a matter of taste, but I found it hard to stick with Bulletts Over Broadway and enjoyed Stardust Memories. I rate Crimes And Misdemeanors and Manhattan Murder Mystery higher than Peter does as well.

Other than that, uneven describes Allen to a "T". I have some old recordings of his old standup act. It describes that too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, Rich, I did think about mentioning Manhattan, but I wasn't really doing a film-by-film accounting of Woody's career until I got to the latter half of the Mia Farrow era. Though I confess I've never been quite as hot for this film as a lot of people seem to be.

FWIW, I discovered Woody in the mid-'80s and made a point of seeing every new film of his as it came out, and I managed to see almost all of his earlier films by the early '90s. The one major exception to this, for some reason, was Stardust Memories (1980), which I didn't get around to renting until after I had moved downtown in late '99. I have seen it once again since then, after acquiring it on DVD, and I like it, even if it regurgitates one or two lines from Annie Hall (e.g. that bit about the universe "expanding"), but I think I'll have to see a heck of a lot more Fellini before I "get" it. It's a very odd film, sandwiched between two different eras in his life -- you might say it is to Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow what George Lazenby was to Sean Connery and Roger Moore.

Oh, and I actually like Crimes and Misdemeanors quite a bit (if you like, I could upgrade Another Woman to "good" and Crimes to "very good" or even "great"), and I don't mean to demean Manhattan Murder Mystery by saying it was a "lark". Larks can be fun. They just tend not to impact a person's life the way great art can do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, I admire your taste and the way you express it, which is why I expressed caution about our possible differences. You need not up- or downgrade any film on my account. Allen is easy to tangle good naturedly over. I mistook your abbreviation for deference to some who denigrate Allen for his pecadilloes. Manhattan tends to get caught in that vortex.

I read somewhere that Stardust Memories is really a slap at Pauline Kael filtered through 8 1/2 and La Dolce Vita.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When did it all go wrong? I think the seeds of trouble were there from the beginning, by making himself the center of all of his movies, played either by him or by a standby. His films have always struck me as a bit defensive and self-interested.

But he has still accomplished a great deal. My favorite is Hannah and Her Sisters, but I also dearly love Zelig, Love and Death, Sleeper, and Bullets Over Broadway. I've enjoyed discussions of Husbands and Wives, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Interiors, and the beloved Annie Hall and Manhattan as well, but the misbehaviors of the characters in those always troubled me. Allen was definitely wrestling with choices and consequences, but he seems to find excuses for such sin all too readily, something that probably relates to some of his lifestyle choices.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Purple Rose of Cairo is my favorite, but I have always had a weakness for pith helmets. Crimes and Hannah are also very good films.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for responding.

I only really started watching Allen's films last year, and I didn't watch them systematically, so I guess I haven't had the same experience as those who either watched them in chronological order or have followed his career for a while, and thus have had that added dimension of waiting for the next film to come along and being disappointed or otherwise.

Most of the ones get singled out for criticism in recent years I actually quite liked. Manhattan Murder Mystery is often criticized as stale and unfunny, but I loved it. Mighty Aphrodite tends to be dissed by the critics, but I found it witty and refreshing. But then, as I say, I haven't had that experience of following his entire career and then feeling "Here he goes again with the same old formula," whenever he brings out a new picture. I even liked the whimsical Everyone Says I Love You, even if it lacked depth.

Annie Hall is one of my favourite films, of course. "Bittersweet" is the right phrase, Peter, and sums up that tension between life and death, the thread of irony that runs throughout all Allen's films. That resonated with me when I first encountered Allen. I wrote about it HERE.

I like Manhattan, but I have to agree with my friend's analysis that it lacks a heart. Feels very detached in a way that is a million miles from Annie Hall, even though the former is generally considered the zenith of his career, over and above the latter. There is one fascinating scene in Manhattan that I think kind of sums up Allen's self-interest: Towards the end, he has a conversation with the character played by Michael Murphy (I think), and the whole scene is virtually a stand-up routine with the camera flitting back and forth between the comedian and the audience (Murphy). All Murphy seems to do in that scene is feed Allen his cues, and then respond in the cutaway shots. Interesting and revealing way of filming, I thought.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LINK:

Manhattan
(1979)

Manhattan is a witty comedy-drama that most certainly ranks as one of Woody Allen's most aesthetically charming films. New York City is affectionately lensed in black-and-white, and brought to life with a score featuring music by George Gershwin. There are several inspired moments: A twilight scene filmed under the Brooklyn Bridge; a conversation between Allen and Keaton in silhouette against a background of stars and planets at the Natural History Museum in Central Park, a scene which beautifully encapsulates the irony at the centre of Woody's persona.

At the same time, however, I cannot escape the feeling that our experience of the characters in Manhattan is, for the most part, a cerebral one. We do not care for Isaac the way we cared for, say, Alvy in Annie Hall. Stunning, intelligent, undoubtedly the work of a very accomplished filmmaker, but the film lacks the heart of some of his other work. Perhaps one of the few moments that really does engage the heart as well as the head, is the final shot of Woody, a typically Allenesque moment tinged by a sense of hope as well as melancholy.

Small-Time Crooks
(2000)

This comedy caper is by no means among Woody Allen's best, nor the most consistently funny, but it nevertheless entertains. Allen and Ullmann manage to make the central characters warm enough to engage our affections.

Often it is said that Woody cannot do physical comedy, but there are some delightfully amusing moments herein that belie such a criticism, such as Woody's bungled attempts to sneak upstairs at a party to commit a robbery without being noticed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quick question.

I just received an inquiry from a friend:

At the video store they have daily trivia questions, today's being: Which Woody Allen film is based on Bergman's Wild Strawberries.  

I guessed Interiors, then September, then Another Woman. All wrong. According to them Deconstructing Harry is based on Wild Strawberries.  

Is this true? I disputed the clerk on the truth of the answer and now come to you seeking the Truth.

Anybody know?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to bring up his truly hysterical Oedipus Wrecks. The short film that was part of the collection called New York Stories. It was my gateway drug into Allen. I hadn't been able to access him before that. Then, I jumped straight to Crimes and Misdemeanors, which has some of my favorite actors of the period, Alda, Waterston, Landau, Orbach. WOW! These are some of the big boys in my book, and Allen lets them work their magic in this film.

Still need to get to Purple Rose, Annie Hall and Zelig.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeffrey Overstreet's friend wrote:

: Which Woody Allen film is based on Bergman's Wild Strawberries.

: I guessed Interiors, then September, then Another Woman. All wrong.

: According to them Deconstructing Harry is based on Wild Strawberries.

Sounds plausible, though I have never seen Wild Strawberries for myself. FWIW, John Baxter's 1998 biography of Woody Allen refers to Deconstructing Harry is "the reworking of Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries", though he also says Another Woman has "resemblances to Wild Strawberries, Face to Face and Autumn Sonata". There is also this paragraph on pages 29-30:

Though Allen often insists that his true cinematic hero and artistic influence is the austere Swede Ingmar Bergman, only three of his films --
Interiors
,
A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy
and
Deconstructing Harry
, suggested by
Face to Face
and
Autumn Sonata
,
Smiles of a Summer Night
and
Wild Strawberries
respectively -- show a Bergman influence. He far less readily admits the inspiration of the archetypal Italian Fellini, even though
Annie Hall
and
Stardust Memories
derive from
8 1/2
,
Radio Days
from
Amarcord
, and
Alice
from
Juliet of the Spirits
.

For whatever that's worth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just caught Zelig and loved it!! This guy is a master of irony!! I sit amazed by every layer of duplicity and society probing absurdity, he stacks upon each hilarious situation. And then just when I think he's being so deep, he pulls off a one-liner with enough Zing to rip the lips off a camel. Great stuff! After Purple Rose and this one, I belive I've found my favorite Allen era. I've never actually seen Annie Hall or Hannah and her Sisters. Unless I hear differently, I'll head for those next.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zelig is #1 on my Woody list. Radio Days #2, followed by the usual suspects Annie Hall and Manhattan.

I'd say even though he's been spotty his whole career, he's really only tanked since his Dreamworks deal. I thought Celebrity and Deconstructing Harry were both great later works.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Buck, you've struck gold. "Hannah and Her Sisters" is my favorite, a perfect balance of Allen's strengths. But "Zelig" is my second-favorite, and "Love and Death" and "Sleeper" would follow close behind.

I love the shot in "Zelig" where we seem him learning the truth about what has happened... the laughable shove, the more hysterical laughter, and then the lightning bolt realization...

The quote that most frequently comes to mind: "Pancakes..."

Yeah, for those of us who had seen "Zelig," the arrival of "Forrest Gump" just seemed so unsensational. "Zelig" inserts Allen into historical footage so much more effectively than the transplants of Hanks in "Gump".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"i've got a fascinating case. I'm treating two sets of siamese twins with split personalities. I'm getting paid by eight people."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I voted Annie Hall. That was the picture that really clicked with me.

Everyone Says I Love You is fast becoming a personal favourite, although it had to grow on me. At first I thought the musical numbers were lacklustre and out-of-place (most of the cast can't even sing), but now I savour every minute.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not much talk about "when it all went wrong," so let me chime in. I'm not sure when, exactly, it all went wrong, but I know when he hit bottom: Deconstructing Harry. That's one of the worst films I've ever seen. Seriously.

In another thread about critic Joel Siegel, who recently died, I ran a collection of favorite quotes compiled by his editors. One of them sums up my feelings about Deconstructing Harry:

"While hiding out in graduate school from the Vietnam War, I took a course in W.B. Yeats' poetry taught by a notoriously sadistic professor who marked a classmate's term paper with the letter M. When she inquired what that grade meant, he replied, 'Your writing is that much worse than F.' (The hapless woman revised the essay and was rewarded with a K.) I would have to adopt a similar grading scale to gauge the rankness of Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, the turning point from being a whole-hearted Woody Allen fan to being alarmed at the decline in his work was Mighty Aphrodite.

It was the first Woody Allen film in which the mean-spiritedness of the comedy really became the central driving force, and in which the amorality of the characters seemed not merely observed, but embraced. It also took his habit of casting himself opposite younger attractive actresses to a beyond-amusing extreme. (And she won an Oscar!)

I left this film feeling slightly nauseous and unamused. This experience would happen again with Deconstructing Harry (1997), Celebrity (1998), and the preview for Anything Else (2003) (which I avoided.)

Yet, I did enjoy Sweet and Lowdown. So all is not necessarily lost.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had forgotten Sweet and Lowdon. I liked it a lot! Mostly for Penn's performance. The ending petered out a bit. But thanks for reminding me this was Allen.

Question... Does Allen have any quirky nicknames?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although I'm very fond of Annie Hall, I voted for Love and Death because I think it's the last of the movies that seem to represent quintessential Woody Allen style. After Annie Hall, and with notable exceptions, the movies get artsier, and (as others have pointed out) meaner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

: Question... Does Allen have any quirky nicknames?

Woody.

Dale

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

clever. I was thinking along the lines of "Hitch" for Hitchcock or Dutch for Reagan. I just got to the point in my sentence where I wanted to reference him, and I could've sworn I'd heard a nickname for him. But perhaps not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"The Woodman" comes to mind, though I'm not sure where I've heard it.

His real name is Alan Konigsberg, IIRC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0