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Woody Allen: A Life in Film Hardcover – July 28, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee; First Edition edition (July 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566635284
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566635288
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,415,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Part overview of the director's cinematic career, part interview with Allen himself, this handy book couldn't have been written by someone with more impeccable credentials. As Time's longtime film critic, Schickel is one of the deans of the milieu. He approaches his subject with an obvious admiration (Schickel immersed himself in studying every one of Allen's films for a month each), but manages not to engage in too much idol worship. The sit-down interview with the reclusive director is the most revealing section, filled with fresh glimpses into his films. There, readers learn that Annie Hall was originally called Anhedonia, until studio execs begged Allen to rename it; and that Allen sees very few of his films as artistic successes. The book's structure is quite rambling-dwelling on one film, going on to another and returning again to the first-which can be disconcerting at times. But real conversations are like that, and the book's lack of order doesn't prevent it from being a rare window into one of the great minds of modern cinema.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Last year film critic Schickel conducted a four-hour interview with Allen for a 90-minute television documentary. This volume transcribes the entire conversation and is probably the longest interview with the notoriously reclusive filmmaker ever published. The discussion focuses on Allen's 32 films, touching only briefly on the scandals that sidetracked his career. The former stand-up comedian is dead serious about his work. Barely a trace of humor leavens his and Schickel's lengthy discussion of all of Allen's familiar concerns: morality, religion, uneasiness with celebrity, and, of course, relations between the sexes. As insightful as the interview, Schickel's lengthy introduction details the growing sophistication of Allen's craftsmanship and strongly argues for some of the much-maligned later films. Allen's commercial peak has long passed-- Schickel notes that his movies' U.S. box office performance now resembles that of foreign films--but he retains a hard core of fans. Even those who have lost patience with Allen's recent efforts will want to read what he has to say about his 1970s masterworks. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Woody Allen makes films like no one else. Sure, the themes of Allen's films (New York, anguished intellectuals) aren't ones that are shared by most blockbusters, but his process of making films is different. Since he started making his own films over thirty years ago, he has put out about one every year, a record no other American director has come close to, and of course he writes them and acts in most of them. It is no metaphor that he has put his life into films, and in _Woody Allen: A Life In Film_ (Ivan R. Dee), the movie critic for _Time_ magazine, Richard Schickel, examines the life work along with Allen. The book is the complete text of a four-hour interview shown last year on the invaluable Turner Classic Movies channel; that version was edited to ninety minutes. It also has an essay of appreciation about Allen's work, which Schickel clearly values. He admits that he is biased, not because of friendship for Allen, but because of similarities between them, being roughly the same age and distrusting organized religion, corporate America, and aromatherapy. Allen "... speaks to me - and _for_ me sometimes - in a quite uncomplicated way." If you do not share his bias, he warns, you are reading the wrong book. If you do, you will find Schickel's essay, and especially Allen's own words about his work, a delight.
The film a year output has lead to many people thinking that along with all the other neuroses that Allen has depicted for himself, he is a workaholic. He denies it. He likes the work. "It keeps me sane to the degree that I'm sane. It helps me." But if he can't get the shot exactly right, and it is time for the Knicks game, he lets the shot go. He may love making the movies, but he is distinctly modest about them.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The prefatory essay is about 65 pages long, and the entire book, stopping short of the filmography and index, is about 174 pages. Because the book is so slim, I felt a bit cheated once I finally got to the interview. Maybe the publisher wanted an extended essay to make the book long enough to be marketable, but just beware -- interesting essay, fascinating interview (if you like Allen), but when you see how slim the book is, just realize less than 2/3rds of it is interview.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dorylus on September 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm a huge Woody allen fan but this book is an embarrassing and shameless waste. Nothing new here is gleaned from Woody and his thougts on his films are much better presented in Woody Allen on Woody Allen: In Conversation With Stig Bjorkman. In an introduction seemingly ghost-written by Allen himself, Schickel uses at the end to defend the Soon-Yi situtation and even delves into the Mia Farrow charges, "I do not think anyone believes the hysterical (and preposterous) charges of child abuse Mia Farrow brought against him; certainly the courts did not." Did Schickel not read the court transcripts that Farrow attached to the end of her book where the Judge said he was unconvinced that something did not take place? It is as if he has made a deal with the devil just to land a prize interview, except he completely wastes his opportunity by asking almost nothing of interest or get anything new from Allen.

He lets Allen get away with saying his plots are fabrications and have little to do with his own life, ignoring the fact that many of the films parallel Allen's life almost exactly. In fact, in "Deconstructing Harry," there is a fight scene between Harry and his wife which uses almost the exact words that Farrow wrote occurred between her and Allen! Yet, all that is not spoken about. Schickel, who thinks he is an authority on Allen, questions him about Bob Hope, who Woody Allen is well-known to have admired, but seems ignorant of the fact that "Love and Death" is almost a loose reworking of Hope's Monsieur Beaucaire (1946) - some film authority!

There is nothing new of interest here at all. Read the "Woody Allen on Woody Allen" book instead- Schickel seems so excited to be talking to Woody, he even thinks something as awful as "Hollywood Ending" is acceptable. This book is less a book on Woody Allen and his films and more about how a film critic can lose integrity and a respect for his craft by cashing it in to talk to Woody Allen. It's sad.
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