Woody Allen--Your Life is Not a Movie

Woody Allen is suing his former producers for mismanaging or stealing his money. This is from yesterday’s account of the trial in the NY Times:

Clearly, the man is nuts.

Here’s the question: Can someone who is nuts, who has truly lost sight of the difference between film and reality, still make good movies? While I haven’t liked many of Woody Allen’s recent movies, I don’t see any reason why not. In fact it might almost be an advantage in some ways–if life is no longer distinguishable from the movies in his mind, perhaps his movies will be all the more lifelike. It was the nuttiness of his early movies (What’s New, Pussycat, Sleeper, Everthing You always Wanted to Know about Sex and Love and Death, as examples) that I really loved–Manhattan and Annie Hall were Big Important Movies but not nearly as much fun.

Whaddaya think? Feel free to discuss the Soon-Yi thing too if it makes a difference to your decision.

Very weird.

nit-pick: I don’t think I’d call What’s New, Pusscat? a Woody Allen movie. I think he may have had a hand in writing it (and in Casino Royale, too, for that matter), but it’s not the same. You wouldn’t call Don’t Drink the Water a Woody Allen movie.

I’m surprised you left off Take the Money and Run and What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (maybe what you really had in mind instead of WNP?)

Who knows if they will, but after the first blush of anger is over, it is very possible for professionals to remain friends after or even during a lawsuit.


Yikes–yeah, I meant Tiger Lily–I’ve made that mistake before too–the titles of the movies (and that fact that I like both of them) apparently make the same neuron trails in my brain light up.

Here’s some more from the article on Ms. Doumanian’s reaction:

It is a suit accusing her of fraud, not breach of contract or something.

Back in the 1980s, we had a so-called President who did not know the difference between real life and the movies he acted in.

He really thought he fought in World War II, and that he really played football for Notre Dame!

What’s odd is that Woody Allen actually seems to think his recent movies have been blockbuster hits at the box office!

Woody Allen is a washed-up has-been, and even critics who WANT to worship him have had to admit, reluctantly, that he hasn’t made a good movie in over 15 years! And the public at large was waaay ahead of the critics. They’ve avoided his movies like the plague.

So, when Woody sues Jean Doumanian for withholding profits from his recent films, one is tempted to grab him by the collar and scream “WHAT profits??? NOBODY goes to your lousy movies any more! Wake up!”

It is not unprecedented for adversaries in a lawsuit to remain congenial out of court. One example that comes to mind is General William Westmoreland, who sued CBS News for libel in 1982 after a 60 Minutes report alleged that he conspired to cover-up the size of Viet Cong troop strength during the Vietnam War. The minute the case ended, with CBS News issuing an apology and Westmoreland dropping his suit, Westmoreland and his wife and CBS News’ Mike Wallace chatted amiably in the courtroom like the old friends that they were, and made plans to have dinner together.

“Deconstructing Harry” and “Sweet and Lowdown” were both great. I think both of them were also pretty successful (in context).


Cite? Making a profit is different from having “a blockbuster”. Don’t forget, his films are cheap to make; big names actors barely get paid anything in his films, and he has few bells & whistles (CGI, epic-size production values) that add up. Also, he has a strong following in Europe & elsewhere (Argentina, for example), so foreign b.o. tallies are consistently strong.

What a crock. Crimes and Misdemeanors, Husbands and Wives, Bullets Over Broadway and Everyone Says I Love You got extremely strong reviews and were, for the most part, embraced by the critical community (and not reluctantly). You’ll also find plenty of defenders of films ranging from Another Woman to Sweet and Lowdown. Yeah, there have been stinkers too (say the last 3), but 15 years? Hardly.

You tell me that he hasn’t made a good film in 15 years!

Curse of the Jade Scorpion, The (2001) - charming & pleasant, not earthshattering though in either it’s vision or execution (not that it was meant to be)

Small Time Crooks (2000) - see Curse of the Jade Scorpion

Sweet and Lowdown (1999) - a critical and commercial success (for Allen). Penn and Samantha Morton deliver terrific performances and the plot has a very subtle quality to it.

Celebrity (1998) - a flop

Deconstructing Harry (1997) - again, at least a critical success. Woody gives us his most abrasive script ever, you actually hate Woody.

Everyone Says I Love You (1996) - Charming picture that most critics and fans adore.

Mighty Aphrodite (1995) - An average picture, but Mira Sorvino won an Oscar for her role, so I assume it has to be rated as a success.

Don’t Drink the Water (1994) (TV) - No Comment

Bullets Over Broadway (1994) - His best picture of the 90’? Cusack plays the traditional Woody Allen role, and Palmentieri is terriffic. The cast, direction, set design, humor, everything, is a success.

Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) - Sort of a cast-off, meant to re-marry the Allen-Keaton on screen relationship. Not much ballast here though.

Husbands and Wives (1992) - Much better than his last two flicks, the female performances in particular are great. Woody gets alot out of Judy Davis, Juliette Lewis and Mia.

Shadows and Fog (1992) - Not one of his better pictures. Doesn’t rank well, especially when compared to his better acheivements.

Alice (1990) - Another sort of aimless movie that doesn’t look very good against his best films.

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) - What can I say, his best movie ever?? Made nearly every top 10 of the 1980’s list that I can remember! And the script, the plot, nearly flawless. Subject matter that no one else in America handles. An homage to Bergman, in typical Allen fashion

New York Stories (1989) (segment 3) - Funny!

Another Woman (1988) - Not very well known, but a great, heavy movie that features Gena Rowlands in an excellant performance. Sort of nice, in as much as it is a great movie focused on one character, not the usual large ensemble of regulars.

September (1987) - Not great, sort of boring, typical Allen fare here, but not especially significant.

Radio Days (1987) - A terrific, loose, reminiscent comedy about life in Brooklyn during the 40’s. A nostalgic, unapologetically cheery flick. Woody’s narration gives it that extra lift. Sort of like a better version of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs