Top Five Woody Allen Films

Forget about his scandalous private life for a second - Woody Allen has made some funny films. (He also made some painfully boring films in the Eighties, but I would too if I was married to Mia Farrow.) I can confidently recommend five gems that don't have him making out with leading ladies less than half his age, though he's still an acquired taste. So acquire some taste and come straight back!

1. Bullets Over Broadway (1994).
John Cusack stars (replacing Woody) as a 1920s playwright who's mortified when a local gangster shows a flair for dialogue and successfully improves his latest work.
"Was there nothing in the original draft you feel was worth saving?"
"The stage directions were lucid. Best I've ever seen. And the colour of the binder. Good choice."

2. Love And Death (1975).
An extremely silly parody of Russian existentialist literature, though I argue that you don't need to have read any (I haven't) to enjoy the film. If you like Bob Hope, Mel Brooks or Charlie Chaplin then there's something here for you.
"We have to take our possessions and flee. I'm very good at that. I was the men's freestyle fleeing champion two years in a row."

3. Annie Hall (1977).
If you've never seen a Woody Allen film before, start here. It's a modern love-gone-wrong story told using split-screen, animation and other techniques unusual to the romantic comedy genre. If I was blogging about my celebrity crushes 30 years ago, I'd leave space for Diane Keaton.
"I don't want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light."

4. Deconstructing Harry (1997).
A writer thinly disguises his friends' lives in his best-selling books, and we see flashbacks to real events contrasted with their fictionalized counterparts. Billy Crystal plays The Devil!
"You have no values. With you it's all nihilism, cynicism, sarcasm, and orgasm."
"In France I could run for office with that slogan and win."

5. Sleeper (1973).
Another "early, funny" one about a Greenwich Village grocer who is cryogenically frozen when a routine operation goes wrong and is revived 200 years later. Could this be the first comedy science fiction film, just five years after 2001?
"I knew it was too good to be true. I parked right next to the hospital."


Blogger Trundling Grunt said...

And what is wrong with Manhattan (which has some of the best cinematography) or Crimes & Misdemeanours?

He has produced some great movies and can be forgiven for some of the Mia Farrow mishaps imo.

Blogger thisismarcus said...

I just couldn't fit them all in my top five :). Manhattan's great but I think successive movies with messed-up couples have lessened its impact for me. Mariel Hemingway is very young indeed but at least it's a plot point!

I also like (but not love) Radio Days, Everyone Says I Love You, Mighty Aphrodite, Purple Rose Of Cairo and the other comedies with Diane Keaton.

Blogger Tom said...

How can you possibly forget about his private life? Creepy...


Blogger DrHeimlich said...

The weird-looking house from Sleeper is only a 30-45 minute drive from me. It's sort of a bizarre "tourist attraction" here in the Denver metro area. Although it's privately owned, so really all you can do is drive by on I-70 and go, "look, it's that wacky house from Sleeper."

Blogger thisismarcus said...

Tom: I'm quite practiced in judging a piece of art on its own merits. When I listen to The Doors I don't think about what an abusive husband Jim Morrisson was and I don't think about picking up small boys in Morocco when I read Arthur C. Clarke. Ultimately, we may not agree with Woody's predilection for younger women but he hasn't done anything illegal - all molestation and paedophilia charges were dropped. He and his current wife aren't harming us so I say leave them to it.

Blogger Shocho said...

Great flicks! Wonderful stuff. I love "Love and Death," it's one of those movies I can never pass by when it's on TV.

Blogger Tom said...

I never said it was called illegal, but that doesn't mean it wasn't (leaping headfirst into subjectiveness here) creepy and wrong. And I'm not saying other people shouldn't enjoy it if they want, and form their own opinions. I ain't preaching, just observing :) I guess I'm just saying that for me, I can't separate the two things.

Let me rephrase:

"How can I possibly..."


Blogger thisismarcus said...

Understood. I didn't mean to sound militant there.

Legal or not, he HAS made some morally questionable decisions but then we get back to Clinton and Lewinsky and whether "foibles" in a person's private life diminish their ability to do their job effectively. I wouldn't want details of my private life to colour anybody's opinion of MY work, for example.

What happens if you watch his early movies - made when he was involved with people more his own age? Any difference?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a trick question everybody...there is NO SUCH THING as a good Woody Allen film!
Or a top one for that matter...
Woody Allen film as follows:
1) Geeky New York Resident (Woody Allen) who, despite all appearances is amazingly sexually magnetic, is having a crisis.
2) HE moans to everyone about his crisis, whilst continually falling in and out of bed with these deluded women, who given a real life choice wouldn't go near a moany whinger like him, uness they already knew that he was a multi-miilionaire movie director.
3) Nothing...that's it, they just go on and on and on and on

I rest my case in a smug, and about to be death-flamed way :)
Assuming you can work out who posted this that is...


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