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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
  Isaac Asimov
(Allen Stewart Konigsberg 1935– ). American actor, writer, and director.

IMDB credits Oblivious to the acclaim or scorn of contemporaries, focused solely upon the judgment of posterity, director Woody Allen has soldiered on for decades, still adhering in his eighties to the unique and successful pattern of filmmaking 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 (though the now-aged Allen no longer appears in films); make about one film each year; and 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 celebrated egomaniacs like the latter-day Stanley KUBRICK and James CAMERON, who insisted that they required vast sums of money, and/or years and years of effort, in order to satisfactorily produce their next masterpiece. And, even while generally eschewing 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 displayed any interest in winning a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award for Sleeper (1973), or would care about how someone might assess his films in 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 even if he had stopped making films in 1975, there would still be good reasons to celebrate his talents. There is, first of all, What's Up Tiger Lily?, (1966), 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, and while it is routinely eviscerated by individuals who have never seen it, Casino Royale (1967), the episodic farce that he acted in and did some uncredited writing for, is not as awful as one might imagine. The best of his early films, Take the Money and Run (1969) and Bananas (1971), are more or less realistic, but Allen's script for Play It Again, Sam (1972), the only film of this era that he did not direct, makes brilliant use of ethereal visits from 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) (1972) 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, as 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 very successful Annie Hall (1977) 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). During this era, only two problems afflicted his otherwise placid progression through annual film projects: his long relationship with Mia Farrow, requiring him to cast that actress of limited appeal in every single one of his films, with increasingly dire results—like Alice  (1990), 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 (though denunciations of his alleged pedophilia keep resurfacing whenever he seems poised to win an award). Farrow also contributed to the failure of another of his fantasy films, The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), a homage to Buster KEATON's Sherlock, Jr.(1924) 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 (1995), an unusual romance with a Greek chorus; Deconstructing Harry (1997), involving a writer who meets up with some of his own characters; and Scoop (2006), 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 (1983), 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 (2011), even if it is not quite as original as my wife imagined, very effectively employs the trope of time travel to comment on the dangers of nostalgia, as a Hollywood screenwriter is mysteriously transported to Paris in the 1920s, where he befriends the writers he has long admired, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, before finally resolving 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 upon it conveyed by 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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