BORN: Allen Stewart Konigsberg in December 1, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York … YEARS ACTIVE: 1950-present … NOTABLE MOVIES: Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors … OSCARS: 21 nominations, 3 wins (Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, “Annie Hall” (1978), Best Original Screenplay, “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1987) … NOTABLE RELATIONSHIPS: spouse: Harlene Rosen (m. 1954–1959), Louise Lasser (m. 1966–1969), Soon-Yi Previn (m. 1997–present). Also: Diane Keaton, Stacey Nelkin and Mia Farrow
“Woody Allen: The Nightclub Years” is available for downloading at http://www.archive.org/details/woody_allen_the_night_club_years_1964-1968
Allen boxes a kangaroo on British television: http://youtu.be/dPqvqPIGFts
The early years of Allen’s comedic career, which includes stints on televisions shows and standup, is discussed on WFMU’s The Early Woody Allen 1952-1971.
QUOTES BY AND ABOUTWoody throws you into the Mixmaster and turns on the switch. One of the things that happen is that the actors are so without their usual props ? without the usual acting tricks that they can rely on ? that they reach out to each other on-screen in an extraordinary way. You see wonderful relating in his movies. People really look like they’re talking to each other. The other reason they look like they’re talking to each other is that they really are listening, because they don’t know what the other one’s gonna say. They know the gist of it, but he seems to deliberately write it in a formal, uncolloquial way and asks you to make it colloquial. Most of the time he’ll say, “That sounds too much like a joke. Mess it up a little bit so it doesn’t sound so much like a joke.”
Alan Alda, actor
My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.
As an aspiring playwright in my late teens, I would meet some comedians, and I was taken by the fact that they all seemed to have a million distractions. I thought to myself, The guy who’s gonna come out at the end of the poker game with the chips is the guy who just focuses and works. You have to just work. You can’t read your reviews. Just keep quiet. Don’t get into arguments with anybody. Be polite, and do what you want to do, but keep working.
I never felt Truth was Beauty. Never. I always felt that people can’t take too much reality. I like being in Ingmar Bergman’s world. Or in Louis Armstrong’s world. Or in the world of the New York Knicks. Because it’s not this world. You spend your whole life searching for a way out. You just get an overdose of reality, you know, and it’s a terrible thing. I’m always fighting against reality.
He did not just keep his clothes on under the sheet, but he kept his shoes on too. When I asked him why, he said it was in case there was a fire.
Helena Bonham Carter, actress, on working with Allen
A lovable nebbish, endlessly and hilariously whining and quacking, questioning moral and philosophical issues great and small. He was a guy with his heart and his conscience on his sleeve . . . A guy who is nothing like the real Woody Allen.
Mia Farrow, actress and former paramour
Allen appears before us as the battered adolescent, scarred forever, a little too nice and much too threatened to allow himself to be aggressive. He has the city-wise effrontery of a shrimp who began by using language to protect himself and then discovered that language has a life of its own. the running way between the tame and surreal — between Woody Allen the frightened nice guy trying to keep the peace and Woody Allen the wiseacre whose subversive fantasies keep jumping out of his mouth — has been the source of the comedy in his films. Messy, tasteless, and crazily uneven (as the best talking comedies have often been) the last two pictures he directed — Bananas and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex — had wild highs that suggested an erratic comic genius. The tension between his insecurity and his wit make us empathize with him; we, too, are scared to show how smart we feel.
And he has found a nonaggressive way of dealing with urban pressures. He stays nice; he’s not insulting, like most New York comedians, and he delivers his zingers without turning into a cynic. We enjoy his show of defenselessness, and even the I don’t-mean-any-harm ploy, because we see the essential sanity in him. We respect that sanity — it’s the base from which he takes flight. At his top, in parts of Bananas and Sex, the inexplicably funny took over; it might be grotesque, it almost always had the flippant, corny bawdiness of a frustrated sophomore running amok, but it seemed to burst out — as the most inspired comedy does — as if we had all been repressing it. We laughed as if he had let out what we couldn’t hold in any longer.
Pauline Kael, film critic
He has great balls. He’s got balls to the floor.
Diane Keaton, actress, about his talent
Woody has the potential to be America’s Chekhov, but instead he’s still caught up in the jet-set crowd type of life, trivializing his talent.
Meryl Streep, actress, about “Manhattan” (1979)
He’s a sweet man, but he is not sweet when he’s working. Working with Woody is sweating blood, because he hears if you don’t hit the notes. He’s got great musicality. It’s about hitting the notes. It’s precision within the feeling. You’ve got ot put the bead on the string, but before you even get to the string with Woody the bead has to be precisely round. It has to be great.
Dianne Wiest, actress
The way Woody makes a movie, it’s as if he was lighting ten thousand safety matches to illuminate a city. Each one of them is a little epiphany.
Gene Wilder, actor
“Conversations With Woody Allen” by Eric Lax
“The Unruly Life of Woody Allen” by Marion Meade
“Woody Allen On Location” by Thierry de Navacelle. A fly-on-the-wall book based on watching Allen film “Radio Days.” An excellent observational book.
“Mia & Woody: Love and Betrayal” by Kristi Groteke with Marjorie Rosen. Groteke was Farrow’s friend and nanny to the youngest children.