Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Fascination With Woody Allen

He’s given me a completely romantic picture of New York. Between Woody Allen and Sex and the City, I’m a sucker for the Upper East Side. I’ve never been there, but that’s going to change soon. Scott and I are going to New York for a couple of days in May. We’ve built the trip around going to dinner at the legendary Café Carlyle on May 14th. We’ve got reservations and premium seating to see Woody Allen and the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band. This is a big thrill for me. I’ve seen the interior of the Café Carlyle and Bemelman’s Bar dozens of times on film. If Bobby Short were still alive, the fantasy would be complete. We’ll be staying at the Surrey Hotel on East 76th Street; just a short stroll from Central Park and yes, there will be a carriage ride involved. Despite the pronouncement in The Big Chill that Elaine’s is dead, the trip would not be complete if we didn’t have dinner there once. If I could be invited to a dinner party at the apartment used for Hannah and Her Sisters and spend an evening with those characters, I’d be in heaven. All my youthful ideas about a romantic New York City life have been built around interiors like the ones in every Woody Allen movie. They’re never anything fancy and they always have floor to ceiling bookshelves filled with interesting titles.

I have a fascination with Woody Allen movies. I won’t say every film is a classic, but I can say there’s something about all of them I love. He’s released a new movie almost every year since 1969 and there’s something about that kind of prolific creativity and work ethic I admire. I love that he remains a New York film maker, totally outside the Hollywood machine. Every movie has something a little different about it from the last. He’s made slapstick comedies, romantic comedies, black and white films, mockumentaries, dramas, an homage to Ingmar Bergman, a parody of a Greek tragedy and even a musical. The list of major actors who have been in Woody Allen films over the years, despite the legendary low pay for doing so is amazing.

More than anything else, he’s a master at dialogue. When I started to collect Woody Allen’s movies on DVD, I realized these really are movies I can watch over and over and it’s the dialogue that keeps my attention. It’s funny and it’s philosophical, which is why I tend to like his movies more with repeated viewings. But I guess it’s no surprise that someone who loves words as much as I do would love Woody Allen’s movies.

A small (and potentially disturbing) piece of personal information about me: I own all but two of these titles and those are on order so my collection will be complete. I’ve asterisked my absolute favorites.

Films Directed by Woody Allen

What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966)

Take the Money and Run (1969)

Bananas (1971)

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972)

Sleeper (1973)

Love and Death (1975)

*Annie Hall (1977)

Interiors (1978)

*Manhattan (1979)

Stardust Memories (1980)

A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)

Zelig (1983)

Broadway Danny Rose (1984)

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

*Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

*Radio Days (1987)

September (1987)

Another Woman (1988)

New York Stories (1989)

*Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

Alice (1990)

*Shadows and Fog (1992)

*Husbands and Wives (1992)

*Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)

Bullets Over Broadway (1994)

Don't Drink the Water (1994)

*Mighty Aphrodite (1995)

*Everyone Says I Love You (1996)

*Deconstructing Harry (1997)

Celebrity (1998)

Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

Small Time Crooks (2000)

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001)

Hollywood Ending (2002)

*Anything Else (2003)

Melinda and Melinda (2004)

Match Point (2005)

Scoop (2006)

Cassandra's Dream (2007) - Not yet released

Woody Allen Spanish Project (2008) – Definitely not yet released


Leslie said...

Well, I can't say I'm a big Woody Allen fan -- but I'd like to start dinner with the Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras!!! Yummy. Your planned trip to NYC sounds wonderful and I hope you thoroughly enjoy it.
Love ya!

Rosemary Harris said...

Thank you for loving my city! You're going to have a blast. Have drinks at The Boathouse in Central Park - weekday afternoon, and try to catch Frost/Nixon, it's getting great reviews. My Carlyle remembrance? One of the first times I went there for drinks, I left Bemelman's and went down the few stairs where I'd been told the ladies room was. I had no idea where I was going...but no worries - a very courtly and elegant African-American man excused himself from his companion and showed me to the ladies room...yup, Bobby Short.
Rosemary Harris

Lisa said...

Leslie -- You know I won’t be dieting while I’m on that trip!


What a great story about bumping into Bobby Short! I am very excited about the trip to your city and I'm so glad you mentioned The Boathouse (that's on the list too). We'll definitely try to fit Frost/Nixon in. I just checked out the play's website and it looks fantastic. Thanks so much for the recommendations and for sharing your Carlyle experience. It’s priceless.

Also, congratulations on the upcoming publication of Pushing Up Daisies. I'll be following your experiences on the Rosemary Harris Blog (http://blog.360.yahoo.com/harrisgarden)as you work through the publication process.


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