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A Entries
Forrest J Ackerman
Nick Adams
John Agar
Philson Ahn
William Alland
Irwin Allen
Woody Allen
Kirstie Alley
Gerry Anderson
Michael Anderson
Sylvia Anderson
Jack Arnold
 
ALLEN, WOODY
(Allen Stewart Konigsberg 1935– ). American actor, writer, and director.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in, wrote, and directed: What's Up, Tiger Lily? (co-wrote with Frank Buxton, Len Maxwell, Louise Lasser, Mickey Rose, Bryna Wilson, and Julie Bennett; and produced; original version directed by Senkichi Taniguchi) (1966); Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask (1972); Sleeper (co-wrote with Marshall Brickman; and scored) (1973); Zelig (1983); "Oedipus Wrecks," segment of New York Stories (Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorcese 1989); Mighty Aphrodite (1994); Deconstructing Harry (1997); Scoop (2006).

Wrote and directed: The Purple Rose of Cairo (1986); Alice (1990);  Midnight in Paris (2011).

Acted in and wrote: Casino Royale (co-wrote, uncredited, with Wolf Mankowitz, John Law, Michael Sayers, and other uncredited writers Val GUEST, Ben HECHT, Joseph Heller, Terry Southern, Billy Wilder, and Peter SELLERS) (John Huston, Ken Hughes, Guest, Robert Parrish, and Joe McGrath 1967); Play It Again, Sam (Herbert Ross 1973).

Acted in: King Lear (Jean-Luc Godard 1987); Antz (animated; voice) (Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson 1998); Picking Up the Pieces (Alfonso Arau 2000).

Appeared in documentaries: L'Oeuvre et la Vie de Woody Allen (Riccardo Aragno 1982); Meeting Woody Allen (short) (Godard 1986); The Secret World of Antz (1998); Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (Jan Harlan 2001); The Magic of Fellini (Carmen Piccini 2002); Woody Allen: A Life in Film (Richard Schickel 2002).

Films based on his work: Somebody or The Rise and Fall of Philosophy (short) (Alex Hildebrand 1989); Un Aspirine pour Deux (tv movie)  Patrick Bureau 1995); Count Mercury Goes to the Suburbs (short) (Joel Bruns 1997); Sdelka (Georgy Lebedev 2009).

 
Oblivious to the acclaim or scorn of contemporaries, focused solely upon the judgment of posterity, director Woody Allen has soldiered on for decades, following the unique and successful pattern that he developed and that no one else has even attempted to follow: focus exclusively on making low-budget, low-risk movies; attract expensive talent at bargain-basement prices by offering rewarding roles in prestigious venues; occasionally earn some extra pocket money by acting in others' films; make about one film each year; accept that some of those films will be better than others, but hope that the hits outnumber the misses. Allen thus stands as a living refutation to egomaniacs like James CAMERON who insist that they require vast sums of money, and/or years and years of effort, in order to satisfactorily produce their next masterpiece; and, even without state-of-the-art special effects, Allen has contrived to work some science fiction and fantasy into his formula, at times with stunning results—not that he would ever care about winning a Hugo Award, or attracting the attention of an encyclopedia of science fiction film.

No doubt it would irritate Allen to focus any survey of his film career on its first decade, when he was still working within the anything-for-a-laugh mode that his fellow veteran of writing for television comics, Mel BROOKS, never abandoned, but somebody needs to remember What's Up Tiger Lily?, his hysterically inaccurate redubbing of a Japanese spy film that stands today as a pioneering example of the mash-up, ingeniously blending another artist's work with one's own material to create something new. Before advancing to making his own films, Allen also acted in, and did some uncredited writing for, the incoherent farce Casino Royale, another effort that Allen would fight to exclude from any retrospective celebration of his career. The best of his early films, Take the Money and Run (1969) and Bananas (1971), are more or less realistic, but Play It Again, Sam, the only film of this era that he did not direct, makes brilliant use of Humphrey Bogart to comment on contemporary sexual mores; Sleeper offers an intermittently amusing take on the standard futures of science fiction, with an especially funny sequence of Allen impersonating a doctor about to clone a dictatorial ruler; and two of the better segments of Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask were of genre interest: a parody of science fiction films with John CARRADINE, demonstrating that there is little difference between Carradine trying to act well and Carradine trying to act badly, portraying a mad scientist who creates an enormous rampaging breast, and a surrealistic depiction of Allen as an anthropomorphic sperm, being dropped like a paratrooper into a woman's vagina.

But another segment of that film, a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Michelangelo Antonioni and Federico FELLINI, hinted that Allen longed to be a Serious Filmmaker, that these aspirations soon led to the successful Annie Hall and the second phase of his career, a long series of carefully crafted and well-acted films that were mostly subdued comedies, with occasional dramas and stylistic experiments, like the drearily Bergmanesque Interiors (1978) and the episodic Radio Days (1987). Only two problems afflicted his otherwise placid progression through annual film projects: his long relationship with Mia Farrow, requiring him to cast this actress of limited appeal in every single one of his films, with increasingly dire results—like Alice, Allen's misguided attempt to improve upon Fellini's Juliet of the Spirits (1965)—and his messy break-up with Farrow and romance with her adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn in the 1990s, which inspired accusations of child abuse that threatened to derail his career until he doggedly worked his way back into critical favor. Farrow also contributed to the failure of another of his fantasy films, The Purple Rose of Cairo, a homage to Buster KEATON's Sherlock, Jr. pairing the inadequate Farrow with the even more inadequate Jeff Daniels (a genius at casting supporting roles, Allen often stumbles in finding suitable lead actors other than himself). Allen's other departures from realism include Mighty Aphrodite, an unusual romance with a Greek chorus; Deconstructing Harry, involving a writer who meets up with some of his own characters; and Scoop, a posthumous fantasy in which a ghost helps to track down a serial killer.

All of these films may have their moments, yet there are only two must-see Allen films for any science fiction fan. The first is Zelig, a masterful pseudo-documentary about a man who is driven to transform himself to resemble other people, which represents among other things Allen's only venture into films requiring special effects and a shrewd commentary on America's forgotten fascination with the Dionne Quintuplets. And Midnight in Paris, even if it is not quite as original as my wife imagined, very effectively employs the trope of time travel to transport a Hollywood screenwriter to Paris in the 1920s, where he befriends the writers he has long admired, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, before he finally resolves to return to living in the present. Interesting, both of these films feature protagonists who seem most concerned with impressing other people until they realize that it is much better to simply relax and be themselves—a lesson that, perhaps, Allen recognizes that he must keep learning himself. For manifestly, Woody Allen is at his worst when he is striving to emulate Fellini or Ingmar Bergman, and at his best when telling his own original stories.

To underline this insight, then, my suggestion for Allen's next project would be to bring his career full circle by gathering the surviving members of the cast of Interiors; then, in the manner of What's Up Tiger Lily?, he could redub the movie to impose a humorously senseless plot and inane dialogue, and re-release the film under the title Exteriors. Demonstrating a belated ability to recognize his own follies, and more forcefully than ever displaying a willingness to laugh at himself, might be another way to impress later generations of filmgoers and film critics, who may ultimately decide that Woody Allen, despite his flaws, was a better filmmaker than all of the auteurs he has idolized.

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