Woody, Women, & Film
Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 9/19/01

Theatrical Filmography

  Not long ago my wife & I took in Woody Allen’s latest film, The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion. I have long been a fan of the man’s work- doubtless, he is the best original screenwriter in America today- if not ever, & in the last few decades only Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorcese, & Francis Coppola can even rival the quality of his output. I have listened often to the plaints of many about the man’s personal distastefulness- even prior to the Soon-Yi scandal. A lot of seemingly intelligent people cannot separate the man from the artist- they refuse to even watch his films: [“Do you really want to give your money to a man like that?”] But I have never had any problems with the man because I do not know him so his personal life is irrelevant to my liking his art. & even his obsessions with sex & death have not troubled me because he has always handled them so well- especially contrasted to others in film. He rarely condescends to his audience- even in his early farces. Comparing him to a Steven Spielberg or Spike Lee best illustrates the point of the man’s ability to actually create characters that are believable & not sentimentally stereotypical twits [Spielberg], nor one-dimensional ethnic stereotypes [Lee]. & his female characters have always been a cut or 3 above the typical Hollywood heroine’s mere ornamentality. No wonder big-name actors- & especially actresses- flock to appear in his films. From the early Diane Keaton characters up to her late ‘70s Annie Hall, Renata, & Mary Wilke characters, thru the range of the more dramatic Mia Farrow years, the great female characters in Interiors, Stardust Memories, Hannah & Her Sisters, Husbands & Wives, the whole oeuvres of Dianne Wiest, Julie Kavner, & Judy Davis, the towering supernal performance by Gena Rowlands as Marion Post in Another Woman, right through to Samantha Morton’s Hattie in Sweet & Lowdown, Allen has been lauded as a feminist’s ideal male writer. Yet, lurking underneath it all- & especially brought home after the 1991 Mia/Soon-Yi scandal, was this recrudescent & simultaneous seeming loathing of women, also. I think the charge is wrong- but never was the reason for this spurious charge so evident then in 1 glance at this latest film. In it an especially haggard & aged Woody has not 1- but 3- babes hot for him. He ends up snagging the Helen Hunt character (a mere 3 decades younger than Woody), & has ultra-hot über-babes Elizabeth Berkeley (of Showgirls & Saved By The Bell infamy) & Charlize Theron lusting for his character. Both hotties clock in at about 4 decades younger than Woody. Now, obviously the man plays this for laughs- & it succeeds in this modest but successful little film. Yet, for the 1st time I felt a little crept out- as did my wife. Self-parody aside, for all the aforementioned wonderful female characters he writes, the feminists who loathe Woody will point to his ‘airhead’ obsession with attractive but not-too bright young babes. Witness: stripper China Lee in a funny yet gratuitous addendum to the hilarious What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, assorted dumb nymphets in the early comedies & later films as well, Charlotte Rampling’s Dorrie in Stardust Memories, & the slowly surfacing string of younger &/or dumber babes in his later movies- many of which seem to serve only to fulfill the real Woody’s fantasies: Mariel Hemingway in Manhattan, Mia Farrow in Radio Days, Juliette Lewis in Husbands & Wives, Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite, Julia Roberts in Everyone Says I Love You, Elisabeth Shue in Deconstructing Harry, Winona Ryder & Charlize Theron in Celebrity, & the Berkeley/Theron tandem in his latest.
  So- why does Woody at once frustrate & please those fans of his with his seemingly simultaneously opposing views of women? The obvious reply is that smart chicks & dumb babes exist & he is merely providing a simulacrum of what he sees. The more cogent point is why he inserts his persona in pursuit of such- in the movies as well as reality? Simply, he’s got an arrested sexual development. How that occurred is beyond my ability to speculate clearly. But let us examine this dual theme of femaleness in Woody’s work from the beginning- recalling that this is more an overview (or temperature-taking) than an explication.
  Woody was born Allen Stewart Konigsberg in Brooklyn, New York on December 1st, 1935. His childhood was apparently alot like those portrayed in Take The Money & Run, Annie Hall, & Radio Days. He was a bright little kid who was not ‘cool’, had little success with the opposite sex, & who took refuge in films & comedy. In his teen years he started writing newspaper humor pieces, which led to gigs as a standup comic. This, in turn, led to TV appearances as both guest & host, & by the early-mid 1960s a breakthrough in to film comedies. Most were innocuous fluffy sex farces. Woody honed his public persona as the schlemiel here. Humorous magazine pieces & some plays also started appearing. The 1st Woody film to bear some of the man’s true comic gifts was What’s Up, Tiger Lily? In true ‘60s fashion Woody redubbed a Japanese B-spy thriller, added intros & outros with himself describing the action, & a bizarre pre-MTV insert of the band The Lovin’ Spoonful for seemingly no reason. For 35 years the film has had cult status as a really funny film. Yet even here we see the early polarity evidenced in the strong female characters of Terry & Suki Yaki (from the original thriller within the film) & the odd film ending of Woody slavering over Oriental stripper China Lee. That such a puerile moment (however funny or not) ends this original idea is- if nothing else- interesting.
  The 1st actual ‘pure’ Woody film was 1969’s Take The Money & Run. Janet Margolin’s character of Louise ends up marrying Woody’s character. This being the 1st female character, let’s see where it goes. Not far, is the short answer. Yes, Louise sticks by her man- but the comedy is so broad that to infer any predilections from her misses the point of the comedy. It’s like implying significance to TV character George Jefferson’s boobery & devising a theory of racial attitudes toward blacks in 1970s TV, while neglecting Archie Bunker’s űber-boobery & not devising a theory of  attitudes towards whites in 1970s TV. The same can be said for Bananas- which features an even screwier tale & a smaller take on females.
  It’s not until 1972’s Play It Again, Sam- based on Woody’s play of the same title- that we get a femme of some substance: Linda Christie, portrayed by Diane Keaton. Woody [& I will use his real name throughout because all of his characters are merely variants of Allen’s well-crafted persona- if not person!] pursues her starting midway through the film, & after some humorous strikeouts with babes at art museums, discotheques, & blind dates. The familiar theme of near-inevitable infidelity turns up after Woody finally seduces the abandoned Linda. While, at first it may seem a pat end to the film’s development of Linda & Dick’s (Tony Roberts) dying marriage, we actually get some very plausible scenes showing Woody & Linda’s growing affection- these scenes are such most viewers will have experienced. Woody is always a great observer- it’s why emotional scenes ring so true. Linda is also, very bright & not nearly the ditz of a character that the later Annie Hall is, nor of the earlier characters the film shows him pursuing. Linda also has believable frailties- self-esteem & career issues. The ending- while a play off of Casablanca- is really the only false note in this film which accurately captures the zeitgeist of early ‘70s West Coast (yes, it’s set in San Francisco, not NYC!) living- as well as Annie Hall & Manhattan do the later ‘70s East Coast milieu. Overall, Linda Christie became the prototype for the Woody-woman A: bright, insecure, complex, ultimately a winner.
  The same year’s Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex was too sketchy & farcical to comment anything on the female characters. However, feminists may quibble that the episode with Gene Wilder’s fantasy babe being a sheep [read- fuckmate who will not talk back!] is political, yet that- again- goes to the question of whether comedy can just be seen as going for laughs rather than social commentary [& perhaps whether Feminism- the movement, not the idea- can laugh at itself]. That episode is for laughs, obviously. The most political episode (sexually- at least) is the 1 which casts Woody as a nervous sperm cell worried over whether he’s gonna end up on a wall or in another man’s ass. The aggressively sexual female character in that bit is 1 that scored Woody big points with the Ms. Magazine set. 1973’s Sleeper casts Diane Keaton as a poet in a totalitarian regime. The film is far more political in its attitude toward power than sex or the feminine. Despite the orb & orgasmotron there is little to be made of the Luna character Keaton essays. She is far more potent seen as a bourgeois symbol than a feminine one. Much the same can be said for Keaton’s turn as Sonia in Love & Death. Although the stronger of the 2 main characters, the film’s pseudo-historicity exerts a far stronger pull than any comment on sex politics.
  The opposite holds for 1975’s The Front. There the historicity of the film’s exploration of McCarthyist blacklisting only underscores the strength of Andrea Marcovicci’s character Florence Barrett. Although not written or directed by Woody this film is generally considered the 1st foray into drama by Woody. & Florence is the most complex & deep character to date- male or female. It is this character which sets Woody off in to ethical self-discovery. It’s a very, very good performance of a very well-written & believable character. Just the right doses of frailty & strength. Marcovicci is a renowned Broadway & cabaret star but her film debut is a stunning success. Florence is a masterfully complex character. 1 can easily believe that this character was a benchmark that Woody used to gauge later female characters which flowed from his own pen.
  Then came Annie Hall- the film & the character. Annie is both a ‘70s feminist icon & nightmare. This is what makes her such a real character- in spite of the comedy. To her can be traced many later film & TV characters from Meg Ryan’s Sally in 1989’s When Harry Met Sally, & Cheers’ Diane- played by Shelley Long, up to & including Ally McBeal’s & Sex In The City’s casts of femmes. While intelligent & outgoing she is also typically dependent & neurotic. But the breakthrough aspect- of the character & in Woody’s oeuvre- is the relatively unhappy ending. The girl gets away & is better for it. Think of how many previous films in Hollywood history- from Westerns to musicals to drama- this is not true. Either the girl lands her man & all is well, or she doesn’t & pays some consequences. At the end of this film, however, Annie is a better person, herself, & a better person than Woody. This is a trope that recurs over & over in later Woody films. Its starkness contrasts with the Hollywood ideal that has buoyed the careers of Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock, & many other contemporary actresses.
  1978 saw a film that remains 1 of Woody’s most controversial: Interiors. Panned for his supposed aping of Ingmar Bergman the film nonetheless garnered 5 Oscar nods. Never having seen Bergman the charge means little to me as I can judge it on its own merits. This underrated & great film so utterly captures the essence of rich WASP New York self-indulgence that it should be sealed in a time capsule. The criticism that the film seems phony comes only from those who have never seen the Long Island Rockefeller Republican household up close. This film is a showcase for the feminine. The 3 main male characters are very much supporting- in every way. 1st is the triumphal performance of Geraldine Page- as Eve the mother. At 1st she seems to be an older version of the weak Woody-woman, but in reality it’s a very complex performance of a breakdown- much more so than last year’s Ellen Bursteyn character in Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For A Dream. The scene in the church reveals not just her final break but also the true sickness lying underneath. This is not a weak woman who is sick, but a sick woman who is weak. & the prime manipulators of her are women- her daughters- not men; even though her husband’s leaving her is the de facto cause of the woman’s breakdown & eventual suicide. The main tension in the film revolves around middle daughter Joey [Mary Beth Hurt] & the relationship between the 2. Joey has always worshipped her mother for her creativity as an interior design legend in New York, while having ‘all the angish & anxiety of the artistic personality, without any of the talent’- according to sister Renata [Diane Keaton]. But her mother worships Keaton’s nationally-acclaimed poet character. In 1 of those twists that both scream Hollywood contrivance & absolute truth Renata is cool & bitter toward her mother, but adores her financially successful father Arthur [an excellent understated performance by E.G. Marshall], who cares little for her yet adores the flighty Joey. On top of this web we have Joey’s sweet putz of a boyfriend Mike [Sam Waterston], & Renata’s creepy déclassé Hemingway of a husband Frederick [Richard Jordan- who gives a very realistic & disturbing portrait of a loser bent on mayhem]. Only after these relationships are played out- via flashbacks- do we get the introduction of the final 2 pieces of this drama: Kristin Griffiths’ Flyn- the youngest sister- who is a vapid TV actress who lacks any real intellect & merely serves as Frederick’s siren & symbol of female bounty, & Maureen Stapleton’s Pearl- the vibrant Jewish Earth Mother that Arthur marries in the end. Her appearance fulfills Arthur, obviates Eve’s presence in the family, unites Renata & Joey in opposition, breathes new life into Joey (literally!)& eventually alters the family structure for the better. & Stapleton’s character does it all unknowingly.
  But there are some cringe moments- when Renata talks about her problems with a shrink or the too-obvious symbolism of windows & Renata’s hand moving over it. Yet, the film is remarkably intelligent & perceptive, & even non-Upper Class WASPs can see the similarities to their own families- especially in the relationships of the women characters, & the performances by the actresses who portray them. Keaton’s Renata is a complex character whose fear (disguised as condescension) of Joey is another hub on which the film rotates. Her manipulations of all the characters in the film, as well as Joey’s puerile self-centeredness, really provide this film with a trio of strong & complex female characters that I had never before seen in film- & would not see again until later in Woody’s oeuvre. This was a highpoint for both Woody, American film, & feminism in film. Even the seemingly insubstantial Flyn character at least recognizes such in her conversations with the others. The same would not be true of Woody’s next film.
  Manhattan saw Woody go over some of the same themes covered in Annie Hall- yet with a sharper edge. The film is renowned for its black & white camerawork & lush Gershwin scoring. Yet the film contrasts Woody’s strong woman/airhead babe obsession to the max. Only 4 characters are of note: Woody, Diane Keaton’s academic writer Mary Wilke, Michael Murphy’s professor Yale, & Mariel Hemingway’s 17 year old nymphet Tracy. Mary is Yale’s mistress & Woody his best friend who is a writer indulging in pedophilia [explained in the film by not even broaching the matter] with Tracy- a wispy voiced ditz who any man can understand being sexually attracted to, yet whom Woody has nothing in common with, & seemingly only wants to exploit for her nubility. The fact that, at her age of 17 (barely- at film’s start), Tracy seems to have been engaged in a lengthy affair suggests it [the pedophilia] began even earlier, is again not dealt with- to the rage of feminists. That this presaged Woody’s real-life brush with such is (& has been) a matter for other essays. Mary vacillates between Yale & Woody throughout the film. Woody dumps Tracy for Mary because he seems frustrated with her callowness, yet Mary- unlike Annie Hall- is a cancer. After using Woody she returns to Yale- who has dumped his wife for her. Woody then longs to return to his nymph. The ending is the weakest part of the film- a mistake Woody would not make in other films. All of a sudden the now legal (barely) 18 year old Tracy spouts wisdom well beyond her years to the frustrated pedophile. Even so, the character is complex a character as a teenager can be- & a lot more believable than Nabokov’s lauded Lolita. But, aside from its brief digression to Woody’s bitch goddess ex-wife’s descent into lesbianism [another feminist bête-noir!], there really is not much to say for the feminine side in this film- even with the seeming empowerment of Tracy at the end. All the female characters are either victims or pawns of Yale & Woody. Nonetheless the film marks Woody’s 1st great fusion of drama & comedy & is a great film- albeit perhaps the oddest treatment of sexual & personal perversions by ‘normal’ people ever filmed.
  Woody’s next film brought another trio of complex females to the screen. Stardust Memories has been tarred as a rip-off  of Federico Fellini’s . Fortunately, as with Bergman, I’ve never seen that film so I take Woody’s film for itself. The film is actually a trompe-loeil of sorts. It is about a famed comic-cum-filmmaker & his relationships- told in flashback & Freudian intercutting- with 3 females: his past love Dorrie- a neurotic beauty [Charlotte Rampling] who ends up institutionalized, current love Isobel [Marie-Christine Barrault]- a French divorcee with 2 kids & a sane streak, & Daisy [Jessica Harper]- a young bisexual brunet beauty he meets at the filmfest in his honor [where the film’s action takes place] 1 weekend. It’s almost impossible to engage this symbolic film on all its levels. Suffice to say that none of the 3 women fit either end of the Woody female spectrum. All 3 women give excellent performances & Woody’s character is a lot more likeable than his previous incarnation in Manhattan. That the film’s end reveals each of the characters’ true motivations is only the last great twist in a great film. Yet, despite this, the film has been seen as Woody’s 1st spew of bile at the public. True- it is a ‘merciless’ parody; but so ‘on’ that to diminish it as mere invective is utterly silly. It is a mélange of the portrait of the artist mixed with some deep philosophy. Perhaps my favorite moment in a Woody film is in this film where he encounters a UFO & asks their greater intelligence what he should do with his life & the exasperated alien tells him- as a comic- to “Tell funnier jokes!”- i.e.- if everyone does what they do best, at their best, living would be alot easier. It’s these sorts of insights told in sometimes matter-of-fact afterthoughts that make Woody’s oeuvre so different fro the Spielbergian Hollywood tripe. But, even though this film features some excellent performances by women there was not much real expansion on earlier Woody themes in that regard.
  A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy’s trio of femmes- Julie Hagerty’s ditzy nympho Dulcy, Mia Farrow’s Ariel [her 1st Woody role], & Mary Steenburgen’s sensible Adrian- are also not greater elaborations on a theme in this slight but harmless comedy. Dulcy is the bimbo from earlier 60s films, Ariel a prolix version of Interiors’ Flyn, & Adrian the prototypical ‘good girl’- a la Annie Hall. But Zelig’s Dr. Eudora Fletcher is probably the most well-rounded Woody woman since Stardust Memories’ Isobel. The mockumentary film’s editing in of Woody with Jazz Age figures works well, & along with the later This Is Spinal Tap, stands as one of the best examples of the genre. Farrow’s 2nd woody role was a great improvement on the 1st. Whereas Ariel was sexual & free, Eudora is intellectual & repressed. The internal change of her character neatly mirrors those external changes in Woody, as well the fact that her exterior does not change; which mirrors Woody’s character’s stasis. The tenuous rope the character delineates between being sap & being mentor works well. Yet, because of the genre, we never really penetrate the character- rather we see the externals & are left to ponder.
  Tina Vitale from Broadway Danny Rose is often pointed out as Mia Farrow’s best character- yet while on the surface there are obvious affectations that let her drop the standard Mia radiance, that’s all there is. Bubble-gum popping, Noo Yawkese, & sunglasses do not make a character. The character has no real substance nor growth & is the standard Woody bimbo with a Mafia twist- but since this was Woody’s 1st pure comedy without a message in nearly a decade it does not matter. She is a caricature & she & this film are for laughs & it works.
  Cecilia- from The Purple Rose Of Cairo- however, is a wonderfully nuanced character that embodies Mia at her Farrowest- she projects sincerity, sweetness, & warmth in this fanciful Depression tale of an abused housewife whose Oz is the movie screen. The end is reminiscent of Stardust Memories’ trompe-loeil. Was it all the brief flower of a dream? Regardless, the scenes of Cecilia leaving her husband for her fantasy man score well with the viewer & also on the dread feminist’s scorecard. That the tale is set in a time well before the modern Feminist movement only heightens the character’s development for even if it all was a dream you sense Cecilia- despite her heartbreak- has had 1 of those Rilkean ‘You must change your life.’ moments.
  The triumph of Hannah & Her Sisters is that never before, nor since- in both Woody’s nor American film’s oeuvre, has there been a portrait of 3 more deeply detailed realistic women. Flyn from Interiors was the 1 sister there that was undeveloped, although with reason, & all of those characters veered toward the symbolic. That these women are familial only adds to the depth & realism. Hannah [Mia Farrow] is the oldest sister in a New York WASP family of dilettantes. She is a very good portrait of a manipulator & cold fish- at least internally. As the film opens there is a certain distance between her & her floundering younger sisters Holly & Lee. Holly [Dianne Wiest in her Oscar-winning role] is a recovering substance abuser who has never found herself. She is a more likeable version of Joey from Interiors- both in their substance & that they are the middle sisters. She is controlled by Hannah via pursestrings & resents it, as well her failures. Resentment also simmers in youngest sister Lee [Barbara Hershey], although we are never explicitly told why. It soon surfaces as she gives into the seductions of Hannah’s husband Elliot [Michael Caine] & begins a months-long affair that ends with her leaving her painter/mentor beau Frederick [Max Von Sydow]. As the affair flares & then dims the 3 sisters share triumphs & gossip about each other that families in all walks of life can relate to. Lee grows from puerile worshipper of men to a self-esteemed individual. Holly kicks her addictions & neuroses & finds happiness with Woody- who is cast as Hannah’s ex-hubby; a nice effect. Even tight-assed Hannah grows by the end, when Holly’s emergence as a fictionist has her pen a story on the family that forces Hannah to examine things she had not done before. This film is a comedic & dramatic masterpiece- that it did not win the Oscar that year was a shame because it is a significantly better film than Annie Hall.
  September was next up for Woody- a Chekhovian parlor piece revolving around a mother- Diane [Elaine Stritch]- who’s an aging actress, & her neurotic daughter Lane [Mia Farrow], who both harbor a secret nearly identical to that of the 1950s Lana Turner-Johnny Stomponato scandal. Lane’s best friend Stephanie [Dianne Wiest] is the 3rd player of the feminine persuasion in this film. Diane’s callusness & Stephanie’s affair with a man Lane unrequitedly loves push her to the edge & she reveals all. The film is a tad overwrought, but well-acted, with the typical Woody insights. But, as for any real development in the aspect of female characterization this film is at best a sidestep- & at worst a retreat- from the growth exhibited in Hannah & Her Sisters. Diane [while well-acted by Stritch] is a somewhat stereotypical shrew to her daughter, Lane is a simpering perfect example of the weak Woody woman- & as such a boring character, while Stephanie’s motivations remain unclear- save for confusion. Let me retract- this was a significant step downward for Woody’s feminine boosters.
  Only 2 of the 3 main female characters in Radio Days cross- & the film does a nice job of portraying the women & their era. Julie Kavner as Tess & Dianne Wiest as Bea are sisters in a family of Far Rockaway Jews. Tess is married & the mother of the childhood version of Woody. Her character shows a range of emotions that Kavner never displayed before in any film or tv roles. Wiest is again a treasure as the needy, man-hungry single gal Bea. Yet, neither character’s purpose is to grow- they are snapshots in a life. The whole film’s theme is, “That you remember things is more important than what you remember.’ There is an exception to this- the film’s dictum. That exception is Sally White {Mia Farrow] a cigaret girl at a posh Manhattan nightclub, who- through a series of improbable & possibly fictitious adventures- does exhibit growth. In the end her stereotypical Woody ‘airhead’ is transformed into a silken-voiced Hedda Hopper clone. Yet, even the growth exhibited is mostly superficial & surface. However, this is another stellar performance by Farrow.
  But Farrow’s performance pales in comparison to the towering achievement of Woody’s next film- & a performance by Gena Rowlands that is simply 1 of the best ever put forth on film by any actor. It is also the apex of Woody’s vaunted & hailed insights into the feminine. It is also Woody’s best drama & perhaps his best film. Everything from the visuals, to the scoring, to the acting, to the symbolism, is perfect. Rowlands plays Marion Post- a college professor who has just turned 50. She experiences a mid-life crisis brought about by her ability to eavesdrop on a psychiatrist’s clientele via an air duct. Mia Farrow’s character Hope is reciting ills from her life which mirror Marion’s. We learn of Marion’s failed 1st marriage with her college professor- & his resulting suicide & her abortions. We learn of her failed relationships with her father & her brother. We learn of her failed friendship with a friend she drove away years earlier. We learn of her 2nd marriage- from her 2nd husband’s infidelities with her during his 1st marriage to his current infidelities on her with 1 of her best friends. & most devastatingly we learn of her failure to believe in herself as she rejects the only true love of her life because of her own self-loathing. The writing is insightful & Rowlands lets Marion progress perfectly naturally. The invocation of Satie’s Gymnopaedie #3 & Rainer Maria Rilke’s poetry also illuminates Marion’s inner world like nothing else. This is also the best use of poetry Woody has in any of his films- a recurrent theme. Marion ends the film alone but- like Annie Hall a decade earlier- she is the better for it. The rest of the ensemble is brilliant as well: Gene Hackman as novelist Larry Lewis is brilliantly understated in his emotion, Ian Holm as Dr. Kenneth Post gives a shatteringly effective performance as an emotionless & selfish bastard, John Houseman & David Ogden Stiers give excellent complementary performances as Marion’s dad at different stages in his life. Harris Yulin is very effective as Marion’s brother Paul, & Sandy Dennis as Claire- Marion’s girlhood friend- is also powerful in her resentful performance. Marion Post is simply not like any other woman in Woody’s pantheon. There are several moments which define the character & show Woody’s nonpareil insight into the feminine: early on- in flashback- we see Marion accept her soon-to-be-husband Ken’s cruelty toward his ex-wife during an embarrassing encounter. Her rationalizations to Larry Lewis are so unconvincing that we feel Marion is somehow punishing herself for earlier sins- a possibility we later find out is very plausible. Or, perhaps, she feels she can change him?- either option is plausible & heightens Marion’s depth as a character. Later, in a visit to her dying father [Houseman] with her stepdaughter Laura [Martha Plimpton] Marion displays hypocrisy in chiding Laura for asking a question of her father Marion deems improper. At that point in the film her upbraiding seems hypocritical- & in light of what we learn later it is especially so. Later she holds her mother’s book of Rilke poems & comments on the tears that stain a page- perhaps this represents her mother also being in a loveless marriage, for the tears fall across the last sentence from Archaic Torso Of Apollo: ‘You must change your life.’. All through the film Marion’s voyeurism is goes without mention until at the end- when her own needs are served- she ‘fesses up to the neighboring shrink of the problem. We also learn- in dream flashback the full throttle of her 1st marriage & Marion’s selfishness boomeranging to haunt her decades later. & although there are others, the last defining moment comes when Larry Lewis has sent Marion his latest book & he describes their fictional meeting & relationship. In the book he describes his only kiss with the Marion character- how passionate she is, but how buried it is- & we realize the full depth of what Marion is only beginning to see in herself- all of her self-hatred & how it has led her here- to the film’s end where she ponders if ‘memory is a thing you have or a thing you’ve lost.’ This is 1 of the greatest films ever made & equal to any character portrait in any other medium. That Marion’s ills & gains are both resultant from her roundedness as a person bespeak why women have long lauded Woody as having insights into the feminine few men have ever had. Yet, the most triumphal aspect of Marion’s character is not her femininity but her utter humanity.
  Oedipus Wrecks [Part 3 from New York Stories] is a brief 40 minute film that is a comic little romp & there is no character development- just laughs at an absurd situation. The same is definitely not true of his next film: Crimes & Misdemeanors. Oddly, however, this film focuses almost exclusively on the masculine. The twin tales of a murderous doctor’s killing of his conscience & a small documentary filmmaker’s exposure of his brother-in-law’s hypocrisy tower over the female characters in this film. Of note- Anjelica Huston’s murdered Dolores Paley is without a doubt the most realistic ‘weak Woody woman’ essayed- & she pays for her weakness in spades. Mia Farrow’s Hally Reed is really not developed enough in the smaller ‘comic’ side of the tale- although she seems a complex character that ultimately is a ‘weak Woody woman’ wrapped in a strong feminist role model. Joanna Gleason- as Woody’s wife Wendy is too barely sketched to entertain much exegesis other than a stereotypical shrewish Woody take on wifehood. Perhaps the most interesting performance- & the film’s funniest- is Caroline Aaron as Woody’s weak-willed sister Barbara, whose weakness leads her into 1 of Woody’s funniest scenes ever filmed- but still, the role is too small to matter. Martin Landau is superb, as is Alan Alda. But Landau gives a performance of the male that is almost every bit the equal to Gena Rowlands’ performance in Another Woman- it also transcends its gender to render its humanity in an all-too dark form.
  Woody’s next film- Alice- is almost a comedic version of Another Woman, yet it is not nearly as well-written nor well-acted. Mia Farrow’s titular character does grow but even in the end she seems to still be weak-willed & unable to truly live a fulfilled life- instead opting to do missionary work. This is a very light film & the writing reflects that. Scenes From A Mall is a rare Woody-as-actor-only turn. He did not write the film & did it only for the salary. Deborah Feingold-Fifer [Bette Midler] is very funny on occasions but this is Hollywood Schmaltz at its height- even down to Woody’s LA ponytail. Shadows & Fog- Woody’s next- is a film I’ve only seen once- in its initial theater run. For some reason it has never been affordable to purchase on videotape, nor is it an easily rentable title. But the film is mostly a take on German Expressionism from the 1910s & 1920s, the workings of paranoia & the mob mentality, & faith, represented by magic. This is not really a character sketch- as best I can recall- & the female characters are as slight as the rest.
  Husbands & Wives is Woody in his return to the novelistic film form [ala Interiors, Manhattan, Hannah & Her Sisters, & Crimes & Misdemeanors], as well the mockumentary [Take The Money & Run, Zelig]. The combination is very effective, resulting in a multiple character study, whereas he’d previously only handled 1 character at a time in his ‘study’ films [Stardust Memories, Zelig, Another Woman] & this film is 1 of those Woody films that only grows in stature with each viewing- this is something alot of his films in the 1990s would share- unlike the more immediate greatness of his 1980s work. This film is a well-nuanced portrait of 2 couples who go through breakups & reconciliations. Being Mia’s last film with Woody before the scandal lends an extra poignancy (& sometimes hilarity) to some of the scenes. It is also noted for its thinly-veiled & devastating portrait of Mia Farrow as 1 of the female leads- Judy Roth- a vain, manipulative woman who uses & discards men- including 2 of her husbands. Judy Davis as Sally- a nervous train wreck of a woman- is left by her husband Jack [Sidney Pollack] for a 20-something aerobics instructor Sam [Lysette Anthony as 1 of Woody’s most convincing ‘airheads’]. Jack soon regrets abandoning Sally for Sam, but in the meantime Sally has taken up with Michael [Liam Neeson, in a role that makes effective use of the man’s wooden & Lurch-like acting ability]- an artsy-loving schnook who works with Judy. But shortly after setting Sally up with Michael the selfish Judy decides she actually wants Michael- not her husband- Woody. Woody is a college English professor & novelist whose wandering eye has led him to lust after a brilliant coed named Rain [Juliette Lewis]. Jack & Sally get back together, Judy lures the dimwitted Michael into her web, & Woody falters slightly but recovers the dignity he lost in real life by not pursuing his latest obsession. The film’s mockumentary style really works effectively at encapsulating the characters’ tics & neuroses, & Woody’s ‘experimental’ cinema verite ‘hand held camera’ wobbliness is only a minor distraction. Yet the 4 women portrayed are all interesting. The younger set- Sam & Rain- are a good study in contrasts- both vapid young twits who have daddy complexes, yet Sam comes off the better of the 2, because after a humiliating moment of violence at a party by 1 of Jack’s friends, 1 senses Sam has learned her lesson. & although she has escaped being another of Woody’s obsessions, & is the seemingly more intelligent of the 2 young women, 1 feels that Rain is bound to keep on keeping on with her self-destructive sexual behavior of seducing older men to supplement her lack of self-esteem. As for the 2 older leads- Mia Farrow gives a portrait of a manipulator par excellence. This is another of her very good performances- whether it was unwitting is another topic altogether. Judy Davis shines brightly as Sally. But the 2 woman are even greater contrasts than Sam & Rain. Judy feigns vulnerability & hides her neediness well by exposing it totally. She makes Hannah from Hannah & Her Sisters seems genuine by comparison. Her venom toward the world is very muted- but palpable & pointed out in the mockumentary by her 1st husband. Sally- meanwhile- shows no growth either, yet both characters are fascinating in their self-destructiveness. & neither is a feminist’s idea of a role model. In fact, a great irony in the film is that the most airheaded of all these pseudo-intellectuals- Sam- is the only 1 that we the audience can even hope has a chance to grow & find true happiness. Judy will one day tire of new, & 3rd, husband Michael, Sally & Jack are deluding themselves by ending the mockumentary spouting inane & self-deceptive pieties, & Woody- well, as always, is Woody. That at film’s end he asks of the interviewer, “Is this over?”, only underscores- intentional or not- his doomed emotional freeze in permanent adolescence. While feminists might not appreciate the manifest weaknesses of the female characters, there’s no denying the strength of their depth- both in writing & performance.
  Manhattan Murder Mystery is an excellent flat-out comedy. After almost a decade & ½ Woody reunites with Diane Keaton to great effect. A next door neighbor of Woody’s supposedly dies- Carol Lipton [Keaton] is sure it’s murder & pursues it with Woody- a literary agent, her writer pal Ted [Alan Alda], & Woody’s writer client Marcia Fox [Anjelica Huston]. There really is no character development as the story serves the comedic denouement. Yet, it is the 2 female characters’ determination & ingenuity that push the tale forward, so- even in minor works- Woody succeeds in crafting good female characters. Bullets Over Broadway is the rare comedy that lacks Woody as an actor- yet the Woody persona is present in John Cusack’s David Shayne. The story is about a hack playwright who becomes a sensation due to a talented Mafia hitman’s help. The 3 female leads are Meg Tilly [über-obnoxious Olive the moll] as a prototypical airhead, Mary-Louise Parker [Ellen] as David’s put-upon girlfriend, who takes him back (ugh, sigh the feminists- but this is the 30s & Bohemian free love abounds) after he takes up with Helen Sinclair [Dianne Wiest in her 2nd Oscar-winning Woody role], a vain fading Broadway legend. While Wiest is wonderful- the film is so comedic & the characters so subservient to the ‘joke’ that any real development of the characters, or how that serves Woody’s place in the eyes of feminists, is a bit silly.
  Woody’s next film was also a really funny comedy that again produced an Oscar for 1 of its female actors, Mira Sorvino [Linda]. But unlike its predecessor this film relies heavily on its development- or not- of the female characters. Mighty Aphrodite is the tale of a sportswriter [Woody] whose dour & shrewish wife Amanda [Helena Bonham Carter] cannot bear him a child, so they adopt a kid. A few years later, as their son ages Woody gets curious about his son’s ancestry & finds out that his mother was a porno star-cum-hooker. She is Linda, the typically kind-hearted whore. Woody sets about trying to redeem his son’s biological mother even as his real mother, Amanda, drifts further from him. After a series of comic bits that result in Linda’s failure to become Eliza Dolittle, a depressed Woody- what else?- falls in to bed with the gorgeous young babe, fathers another child with her. [Linda], of course, does not tell Woody that she has his child- because she finally finds true love & Woody reconciles with his wife. The film is a nice pastry with the usual Woody insights peppered about, but Amanda has no real development & Linda is really little more than a well-enacted ‘airhead’. Feminists rolled their eyes at some of the conventions that Woody throws in- from the hooker with the heart of gold right to her not telling Woody of his paternity ‘for the good of his marriage’- yet to take this film as 1 of Woody’s more serious efforts is to miss the point. Everyone Says I Love You is an even lighter piece of fluff. Woody gets his obligatory scene as ‘an incredible lover’ with Julia Roberts’ character Von, but this musical has no real character exploration- what musical does? The only real female characters that are even slightly realistic are Goldie Hawn’s Steffi- as a guilty white liberal with outrageous ideas, & her daughter Djuna (Natasha Lyonne), who serves as the film’s college-age narrator, & falls in & out of love at the drop of a hat. But, again- ‘tis a musical.
  Woody’s next film, Deconstructing Harry, is another Allen film that was savaged on is release, & I myself was not partial to it. But, despite its faults, it is a typical Woody film in that with each viewing it gets better. Woody is the titular character- a fairly successful novelist whose romans a clef piss off his friends & family. He is scheduled to be honored by his old college & ends up arriving with his kidnapped son, a black hooker, & a corpse. This is a much wilder ride than the earlier Stardust Memories, & not in its league as a film- mainly because of all the major characters’ ;lack of growth. The feting of the main character & many other aspects of the film merely echo the earlier film. And Elisabeth Shue’s character [Fay] is too smart to be realistically attracted to an aging misanthrope. The other female characters- an assortment of ex-wives & lovers- have no real depth, but appear so briefly that they serve only as spurs to what goes on internally with Woody. The 1 thing that is a positive, from a feminist POV, is that Fay, like Annie Hall 2 decades earlier, does learn enough to leave Woody & find true happiness. Had this film been made 20 years earlier it would be much more appreciated, but coming after some of Woody’s deeper explorations of the psyche it suffers by comparison. Celebrity sees Woody morph into Kenneth Branagh’s Lee Simon- a travel writer who dumps his wife Robin [Judy Davis] to pursue more nubile opportunities. A large cast & many cameos hinder much character development outside of Lee, Robin, & her new love Joe [Joe Mantegna]- a TV producer whom she starts working with. There is a moment near the end of the film where Robin asserts that she- as a celebrity- has become the sort of person she always hated, yet she’s happier than ever. But, as with Fay from Deconstructing Harry, she ends up the better for her choices. & while the film only gives us a surface view of her & the others- that’s part of the point. That this character has come to such a conclusion may not be something realized via what is ‘in the frame’ of the film- it’s a perfectly logical outcome of the whole narrative, as well a refutation of T.S. Eliot’s outdated- & almost archaic- sense of the Objective Correlative. In fact, the movie brilliantly refutes such a premise with its rapid storytelling, & quantum bubbling in & out of characters- unfortunately that is not this essay’s premise.
  This brings us to Sweet & Lowdown, the latest in Woody’s mockumentary series. It’s also probably the 1st Woody film since Husbands & Wives to really hit every right note. It also features 2 of the greatest performances in the Woody canon. It also features Woody as- Woody! The only other film to have him as himself was the early What’s Up, Tiger Lily? Woody & a bevy of Jazz aficionados are commenting in the film on the life & times of a legendary guitarist from the 20s & 30s- named Emmet Ray [Sean Penn]- known as the 2nd best guitarist in the world- 2nd only to Django Rheinhardt. He goes through a series of misadventures where he falls in love with a mute laundress named Hattie [Samantha Morton] who supports him all the time he is conniving & cheating on him. He quickly dumps Hattie for a career opportunity he thinks is coming from a smitten socialite [Blanche] he ends up marrying & regretting- especially after she takes up with a gangster. After more misadventures Emmett works his way back to Hattie, in her Atlantic City hovel, still doing her laundry work. The performances by Penn & Morton were great before their final scene together. This scene should have given them both an Oscar. Suffice to say that 1 must return to the silent film era to see such expressive facial acting.
  Penn is devastating but it is Morton who truly gives one of Woody’s best female performances. She is a strong Woody woman cloaked as a weak Woody woman. As with so many other of his heroines she has gained strength from leaving the man that abused her. The final scene in the film, where Emmet breaks down, is rivaled only by Woody’s use of the F-word in The Front [not a Woody-directed feature], as a dramatic end to his films. There are a # of scenes where we see a plenum of Hattie’s depth: changing tires, drinking alcohol, eating insatiably, tender moments with Emmet, gift-giving, & a walk-on as an extra in a film, but it is this last scene- where we find out she has truly left all Emmet was & represented behind- that elevates Hattie into that select group of memorable Woody women such as Annie Hall, Renata, Joey & Eve from Interiors, Isobel, Dorrie & Daisy from Stardust Memories, Dr. Eudora Fletcher from Zelig, Hannah & her sisters, Marion Post from Another Woman, & the women from Husbands & Wives.
  Woody’s next film, Small Time Crooks, gives us 2 more memorable performances- & both comic gems. The film centers on a small-time grifter [Woody] whose scheme to rob a bank inadvertently leads him to fortune as a cookie mogul. Although a crime caper- it is fluff compared to some of his other crime treatments- even Manhattan Murder Mystery. Woody’s wife Frenchy [Tracy Ullman] is the garish cookie maven & the couple’s romp through New York’s social strata is a hoot. Elaine May shines as quintessential airhead cousin May & is- at times- riotous. But she is a 1-note character. But Ullman’s Frenchy is such an assertive & wonderful comic character that she almost blows the film’s meager attempts at realism. 1 has to go back to Annie Hall herself to find as excellent a pure comic femme character in Woody’s work. That Frenchy goes back to her dipshit of a hubby in the end seems right- for as assertive as she is Frenchy has LOSER stamped all over her- & it’s a gas! Who ever said that losers could not be rich & wonderful characters?
  That brings us to Woody’s latest- & the spur for this essay- The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion. In it Woody plays an insurance investigator that works with a bevy of typically weak Woody women. The most glaring is Charlize Theron’s Laura Kensington- a 40s goddess- who throws herself at Woody. Elizabeth Berkeley’s Jill is the office’s fantasy babe who flirts wildly with the boys yet is little more than a typical ‘airhead’. The most puzzling character is Helen Hunt’s Betty Ann. She is openly antagonistic toward Woody, yet-in a really unexplained twist- she ends up loving Woody. This is an at times amusing & well-made film about an improbable crime spree; but its characterizations are weak & whenever a Woody film is devoid of well-written female characters his most vocal critics- especially feminists- turn on him in rabid fashion.
  But, as I said in the beginning- this piece is more of a temperature-taking than a profile of the man’s psyche. Is the man sex-obsessed? Yes. Is the man’s puerile obsession a source of growing embarrassment? Yes. Does the man have delusions about his & others’ sexuality? Yes. But no person or artist has a claim on perfection. The real questions should always remain focused on the art & that answer an extraterrestrial once gave to 1 of Woody’s many onscreen personae: ‘Tell funnier jokes.’ As long as the man produces art that entertains, does not condescend, occasionally moves & enlightens, I’ll watch. Even in a few decades when an octogenarian Woody has sex goddesses yet-born longing to give him a blow job! I figure by that age I’ll be needing the exercise squirming in one’s seat can give!

Theatrical Filmography 

Year, film #, title, red = acted, not directed, blue = directed, not acted, a = actor, d = director, w = writer, grade = 0-100 [65+ = passing; ? = not seen], cast list, synopsis

1962- 1- The Laughmaker- w- ?

1964- 2- That Was The Week That Was- a- ?

1965- 3- What’s New, Pussycat?- aw- 68-  Woody Allen [Victor Shakapopolis], Peter Sellers [Dr. Fritz Fassbender], Peter O’Toole [Michael James], Romy Schneider Carol Werner], D- Clive Donner,  O’Toole is an irresistible cad under Sellers’ care. Woody has a minor role.

1966- 4- What’s Up, Tiger Lily?- adw- 80- Woody Allen [himself],  Tatsuya Mihashi [Phil Moscowitz], Mie Hana [Terry Yaki], Tadao Nakamura [Shepherd Wong], Susumu Kurobe [Wing Fat],  A Japanese B-film spy flick is given a hilarious turn by a script written by Woody. The catch is that the Japanese characters are given Jewish names & are after the secret recipe for an egg salad. Look for an early surfacing of Woody’s Oriental babe obsession.

1967- 5- Casino Royale- a- 70- Woody Allen [little Jimmy Bond], Peter Sellers [Evelyn Trimble], Ursula Andress [Vesper Lynd], David Niven [James Bond], Orson Welles [Le Chiffre], D- John Huston, Hit & miss James Bond spoof with Woody as a traitor to the free world & a retired 007 saves the world.

1969- 6- Take The Money And Run- adw- 84- Woody Allen [Virgil Starkwell], Janet Margolin [Louise Starkwell],  Mockumentaries got their birth here in what is more a series of clever gags than an actual tale. Old ‘30s & ‘40s-era jail flicks get sent up.

1969- 7- Don’t Drink The Water- w- 65- Jackie Gleason [Walter Hollander], Estelle Parsons [Marion Hollander], Ted Bessell [Axel Magee], D- Howard Morris, An American family behind the Iron Curtain is accused of spying & holes up in the American Embassy.

1971- 8- Bananas- adw- 80- Woody Allen [Fielding Mellish], Howard Cosell [himself], Sylvester Stallone [thug], Louise Lasser [Nancy], Latin American revolutions- Woody Style! A gadget tester-cum-dictator-cum-defendant.

1972- 9- Play It Again, Sam- aw- 84- Woody Allen [Allan Felix], Diane Keaton [Linda Christie], Tony Roberts [Dick Christie], Jerry Lacy [Bogey], D- Herb Ross, A Casablanca fan is haunted by visions of Bogart in his pursuit to win the love of his best friend’s wife. The Allen/Keaton team loses its cherry.

1972- 10- Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex *But Were Afraid To Ask- adw- 82- Woody Allen [The Fool, Fabrizio, Victor, nervous sperm cell], Gene Wilder [Dr. Doug Ross], Tony Randall [brain cell], Burt Reynolds [brain cell], John Carradine [Dr. Bernardo], Lou Jacobi [Sam Waterman], Lynn Redgrave [Queen], Louise Lasser [Gina], A series of vignettes loosely based on Dr. David Reuben’s best-selling sexual baedeker.

1973- 11- Sleeper- adw- 85- Woody Allen [Miles Monroe], Diane Keaton [Luna Schlosser], John Beck [Erno Windt], Sci fi tale of a rip Van Winkle pursued by fascist pigs 200 years after going in to a hospital. Diane Keaton plays a poet.

1975- 12- Love And Death- adw- 83- Woody Allen [Boris Grushenko], Diane Keaton [Sonia], Harold Gould [Count Anton], Jessica Harper [Natasha], Russia during the Napoleonic era is enlivened by Woody’s character’s incestuous advances toward his cousin.

1976- 13- The Front- a- 90- Woody Allen [Howard Prince], Zero Mostel [Hecky Brown], Michael Murphy [Alfred Miller], Herschel Bernardi [Phil Sussman], Andrea Marcovicci [Florence Barrett], D- Martin Ritt  Affecting dramady of a loser who gets rich helping McCarthy era blacklisted writers, then loses it all- except the girl & his dignity. The start of the ‘mature’ Woody period. The ending is dynamite.

1977- 14- Annie Hall- adw- 95- Woody Allen [Alvy Singer], Diane Keaton [Annie Hall], Tony Roberts [Rob], Colleen Dewhurst [Mother Hall], Christopher Walken [Duane Hall], Paul Simon [Tony Lacey], Carol Kane [Allison Portchnik], Shelley Duvall [Pam], Janet Margolin [Robin],  Pessimist meets optimist. Love Blooms, fades & laughs are had. Woody’s Oscar-winning film which said he’d arrived as actor, director, & writer.

1978- 15- Interiors- dw- 97- Diane Keaton [Renata], Kristin Griffith [Flyn], Mary Beth Hurt [Joey], Geraldine Page [Eve], Richard Jordan [Frederick], E.G. Marshall [Arthur], Maureen Stapleton [Pearl], Sam Waterston [Mike], Critically savaged film when it opened. Claims of aping Ingmar Bergman {whose work I’ve never seen so I can judge the film on its own merits} was the charge. What critics overlooked was the 1st pure drama from the man- & also his 1st great film. 3 sisters cope with their parents’ breakup & their own intertwining lives. The near-rape & suicide scenes are highlights.

1979- 16- Manhattan- adw- 96- Woody Allen [Isaac Davis], Diane Keaton [Mary Wilke], Michael Murphy [Yale], Mariel Hemingway [Tracy], Meryl Streep [Jill], Anne Byrne [Emily],  Black & white photography highlights tale of an amiable schnook’s crisis of heart between a pedophilic obsession & a woman more self-loathing than he. Gershwin rules!

1980- 17- Stardust Memories- adw- 99- Woody Allen [Sandy Bates], Tony Roberts [Tony], Charlotte Rampling [Dorrie], Jessica Harper [Daisy], Marie-Christine Barrault [Isobel],  Sharon Stone [girl on train],  A film even more critically panned than Interiors, yet even better. This time the charge was he was aping Federico Fellini’s {also have not seen}. But, on its own merits a brilliant, poetic & evocative film on life, love, art & reality. A metaphysical tour de force. Look for a devastating scene of Dorrie in the asylum.

1982- 18- A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy- adw- 85- Woody Allen [Andrew Hobbes], Mia Farrow [Ariel Weynmouth], Jose Ferrer{Leopold], Julie Hagerty [Dulcy Ford], Mary Steenburgen [Adrian Hobbes], Tony Roberts [Dr. Maxwell Jordan], A weekend in the woods leads to romantic entanglements. Woody-lite.

1983- 19- Zelig- adw- 92- Woody Allen [Leonard Zelig], Mia Farrow [Dr. Eudora Fletcher], Ingenious splicing (pre-digital manipulation) makes this effective mockumentary alot more effective than Take The Money And Run. Plus there’s a real story. Zelig is a Jazz Age phenom who mingles with the greats of the day- all because his a shell of a man can change appearance to conform with the majority. Farrow is his shrink-cum-lover.

1984- 20- Broadway Danny Rose- adw- 90- Woody Allen [Danny Rose], Mia Farrow [Tina Vitale], Nick Apollo Forte [Lou Canova], Milton Berle [himself], Sandy Baron [himself], Corbett Monica [himself], A talent agent with more heart than head tries to help his top act win the heart of a Mafia moll.

1985- 21- The Purple Rose Of Cairo- dw- 87- Mia Farrow [Cecilia], Jeff Daniels [‘Tom Baxter’/Gil Shepherd], Danny Aiello [Monk],  The 5th wall is broken as a character from a romance film tries to sweep a depression era housewife off her feet. A sweet, little film with an all-too realistic end.

1986- 22- Hannah And Her Sisters- adw- 98- Woody Allen [Micky Sachs], Mia Farrow [Hannah], Michael Caine [Elliot], Barbara Hershey [Lee], Dianne Wiest [Holly], Max Von Sydow [Frederick], Lloyd Nolan [Evan], Maureen O’Sullivan [Norma], Sam Waterston [David Tolchin], Carrie Fisher [April Knox],  The husband of the oldest of 3 sisters takes to banging the youngest sexpot sister. Complications ensue. Meanwhile the troubled middle sister bounces into the arms of the oldest sister’s irreligious ex-husband. This film is a poetic masterpiece.

1987- 23- September- dw- 87- Mia Farrow [Lane], Elaine Stritch [Diane], Denholm Elliott [Howard], Jack Warden [Lloyd], Sam Waterston [Peter], Dianne Wiest [Stephanie], The Lana Turner-Johnny Stomponato tale with the fallout hitting decades later. 2nd pure drama.

1987- 24- King Lear- a- ?- Woody Allen [Mr. Alien, a fool], Molly Ringwald, Norman Mailer, Burgess Meredith, D- Jean-Luc Godard. Have never seen but can only imagine!

1987- 25- Radio Days- a*dw (*only in voice-over)- 95- Julie Kavner [Tess], Seth Green [Joe], Michael Tucker [Martin], Dianne Wiest [Bea], Josh Mostel [Abe], Mia Farrow [Sally White], Danny Aiello [Rocco], Jeff Daniels [Biff Baxter], Tony Roberts [MC], Wallace Shawn [Masked Avenger], Diane Keaton [Monica Charles], The best of Woody’s pure comedies tells the tale of 1930s-1940s Brooklyn. The motto: To have memories is more important than what the memories are.

1988- 26- Another Woman- dw- 99- Gena Rowlands [Marion Post], Ian Holm [Dr. Kenneth Post], Gene Hackman [Larry Lewis], Betty Buckley [Kathy], John Houseman [older Marion’s dad], David Ogden Stiers [younger Marion’s dad], Blythe Danner [Lydia], Martha Plimpton [Laura], Harris Yulin [Paul], Sandy Dennis [Claire], Mia Farrow [Hope], A masterpiece. The best of the 3 pure dramas. Gena Rowlands should have won an Oscar for 1 of the greatest performances by an actress, EVER. Haunting, poetic, multilayered. Not a bad performance in sight. Not a situation that does not ring true. Holm is perfect as a conceited bastard. Hackman is even better as the spurned lover.

1989- 27- Oedipus Wrecks (part 3 of New York Stories trilogy film)- adw- 88- Woody Allen [Sheldon], Julie Kavner [Treva], Mia Farrow [Lisa], Mae Questel [Sheldon’s mom], A henpecked lawyer’s mother disappears into a magician’s cabinet- complications ensue!

1989- 28- Crimes And Misdemeanors- adw- 98- Woody Allen [Cliff Stern], Mia Farrow [Hally Reed], Alan Alda [Lester], Martin Landau [Judah Rosenthal], Jerry Orbach [Jack Rosenthal], Sam Waterston [Rabbi Ben], Anjelica Huston [Dolores Paley], Caroline Aaron [Barbara], Claire Bloom [Miriam Rosenthal], Joanna Gleason [Wendy Stern], The most complex & Shakespearean of the oeuvre. Some riotously funny moments frame the tale of gradually deepening amorality in a formerly respectable human being. Landau is brilliant as the dark ophthalmologist. The ending is classic Woody.

1990- 29- Alice- dw- 86- Mia Farrow [Alice Tate], Joe Mantegna [Joe Ruffalo], Alec Baldwin [Ed], Blythe Danner [Dorothy], Judy Davis [Vicki], William Hurt [Doug Tate], Cybill Shepherd {Nancy Brill], Bernadette Peters [Muse], Gwen Verdon [Alice’s mom], Keye Luke [Dr. Yang],  A housewife meets an herbalist who helps her fantasies surface & free her. Woody-lite.

1991- 30- Scenes from A Mall- a- 75- Woody Allen [Nick Fifer], Bette Midler [Deborah Feingold-Fifer], D- Paul Mazursky Woody’s 1st actor-only starring role in 15 years finds him in a lightweight tale of marital discord presented in a single weekend trip to a Beverly Hills mall. Some funny scenes.

1992- 31- Shadows And Fog- adw- 88- Woody Allen [Max Kleinmann], Mia Farrow [Irmy], John Malkovich [clown], Madonna [Marie], Donald Pleasance [Doctor], Kathy Bates [whore], Jodie Foster [whore], Lily Tomlin [whore], John Cusack [Jack], Julie Kavner [Alma], David Ogden Stiers [Hacker], Wallace Shawn [Simon Carr], A posse hunts down a killer in this Expressionistic homage..

1992- 32- Husbands And Wives- adw- 95- Woody Allen [Gabe Roth], Mia Farrow [Judy Roth], Juliette Lewis [Rain], Blythe Danner [Rain’s mom], Judy Davis [Sally], Sidney Pollack [Jack], Liam Neeson [Michael], Lysette Anthony [Sam], Ron Rifkin [Rain’s shrink], The lives & loves & breakups & not of 2 couples. Gets better with each viewing.

1993- 33- Manhattan Murder Mystery- adw- 92- Woody Allen [Larry Lipton], Diane Keaton [Carol Lipton], Alan Alda [Ted], Anjelica Huston [Marcia Fox], An upper middle class Manhattan couple find out their neighbors are what not they seem.

1994- 34- Bullets Over Broadway- dw- 90- John Cusack [David Shayne], Dianne Wiest [Helen Sinclair], Mary-Louise Parker [Ellen], Rob Reiner [Flender], Jennifer Tilly [Olive], Chazz Palmintieri [Cheech], Jack Warden [Julian Marx], A hack writer’s mediocre play is transformed by a gifted hitman.

1995- 35- Mighty Aphrodite- adw- 89- Woody Allen [Lenny Weinrib], Helena Bonham Carter [Amanda Sloan], Mira Sorvino [Linda], Michael Rapaport [Kevin], Woody gets to smooch with Mira Sorvino. An adoptive father tracks down his son’s birth mother. A Greek Chorus presides.

1997- 36- Everyone Says I Love You- adw- 85- Woody Allen [Joe], Julia Roberts [Von], Goldie Hawn [Steffi], Edward Norton [Holden], Drew Barrymore [Skylar], Alan Alda [Bob], Tim Roth [Charles Ferry], Djuna [Natasha Lyonne], Woody tries a musical- what producers say!. Woody wants, & gets, to smooch with Julia Roberts- what I say!  Tales of love & loss set to music.

1997- 37- Deconstructing Harry- adw- 88- Woody Allen [Harry Block], Billy Crystal {Larry], Elisabeth Shue [Fay], Demi Moore [Helen], Robin Williams, Kirstie Alley [Joan], Bob Balaban [Richard], Richard Benjamin [Ken], Mariel Hemingway [Beth], Amy Irving [Jane], Julie Kavner [Grace], Eric Bogosian [Burt], Hazelle Goodman [Cookie], Caroline Aaron [Doris], A misanthropic novelist’s life is examined. Woody gets to knock off Elisabeth Shue, this time!

1998- 38- Wild Man Blues- a* (documentary)- ?

1998- 39- Antz- a* (*only in voice-over)- 89- Woody Allen [Z], Sharon Stone [Princess Bala], Sylvester Stallone [Weaver], Gene Hackman [General Mandible], Jennifer Lopez [Azteca], Anne Bancroft [Queen Ant], Dan Aykroyd [Chip], Jane Curtin [Muffy], Christopher Walken [Colonel Cutter], A non-conformist ant falls in love with an ant princess & plots to foil a mad ant general from a war with termites.

1998- 40- Celebrity- dw- 93- Kenneth Branagh [Lee Simon], Judy Davis [Robin Simon], Leonardo DiCaprio [Brandon Darrow], Melanie Griffith [Nicole Oliver], Famke Janssen [Bonnie], Joe Mantegna [Joe Gardella], Bebe Neuwirth [hooker], Winona Ryder [Nola], Charlize Theron [supermodel],  A bunch of selfish people concoct schemes to grab fame, only to end up disillusioned.

1999- 41- Sweet And Lowdown- adw- 96- Woody Allen [himself], Sean Penn [Emmet Ray], Samantha Morton [Hattie], Uma Thurman [Blanche Williams], Anthony LaPaglia [Al Torrio], Gretchen Mol [Ellie], Another mockumentary about a legendary jazz guitarist’s life & loves. Woody’s most Chaplinian film. Sean Penn gives his best performance & was robbed of the Oscar. Samantha Morton is fabulous & the devastating ending [deepened by the comic offplay] especially evokes Chaplin’s City Lights.

2000- 42- Picking Up The Pieces- a- ?

2000- 43- Small Time Crooks- adw- 87- Woody Allen [Ray Winkler], Tracy Ullman [Frenchy Winkler], Hugh Grant [David], Jon Lovitz [Benny], Michael Rapaport [Denny], Elaine May [May], Elaine Stritch [Chi Chi Potter], A bank heist is foiled yet the planner strikes it rich inadvertantly.

2000- 44- Company Man- a- ? Woody Allen [CIA director], Doug McGrath [Allen Quimp], John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver [Daisy Quimp], Anthony LaPaglia, Denis Leary, Ryan Phillippe, Heather Matarazzo,  A high school teacher gets embroiled in the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

2001- 45- The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion- adw- 85- Woody Allen [C.W. Briggs], Helen Hunt [Betty Ann Fitzgerald], Dan Aykroyd [Chris Magruder], Wallace Shawn [George Bond], Elizabeth Berkeley Jill], Charlize Theron [Laura Kensington], David Ogden Stiers [Voltan], Brian Markinson [Al],  A wimpy insurance investigator becomes a pawn in a criminal’s plot. Conveniently, 3 babes find the aging nebbish hot!

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