Conversations with Woody Allen
His Films, the Movies, and Moviemaking
by Eric Lax
From the author of the best-selling biography Woody Allen—the most informative, revealing, and entertaining conversations from his thirty-six years of interviewing the great comedian and filmmaker.
For more than three decades, Woody Allen has been talking regularly and candidly with Eric Lax, and has given him singular and unfettered access to his film sets, his editing room, and his thoughts and observations. In discussions that begin in 1971 and continue into 2007, Allen discusses every facet of moviemaking through the prism of his own films and the work of directors he admires. In doing so, he reveals an artist’s development over the course of his career to date, from joke writer to standup comedian to world-acclaimed filmmaker.
Woody talks about the seeds of his ideas and the writing of his screenplays; about casting and acting, shooting and directing, editing and scoring. He tells how he reworks screenplays even while filming them. He describes the problems he has had casting American men, and he explains why he admires the acting of (among many others) Alan Alda, Marlon Brando, Michael Caine, John Cusack, Judy Davis, Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mia Farrow, Gene Hackman, Scarlett Johansson, Julie Kavner, Liam Neeson, Jack Nicholson, Charlize Theron, Tracey Ullman, Sam Waterston, and Dianne Wiest. He places Diane Keaton second only to Judy Holliday in the pantheon of great screen comediennes.
He discusses his favorite films (Citizen Kane is the lone American movie on his list of sixteen “best films ever made”; Duck Soup and Airplane! are two of his preferred “comedian’s films”; Trouble in Paradise and Born Yesterday among his favorite “talking plot comedies”). He describes himself as a boy in Brooklyn enthralled by the joke-laden movies of Bob Hope and the sophisticated film stories of Manhattan. As a director, he tells us what he appreciates about Bergman, De Sica, Fellini, Welles, Kurosawa, John Huston, and Jean Renoir. Throughout he shows himself to be thoughtful, honest, self–deprecating, witty, and often hilarious.
Conversations with Woody Allen is essential reading for everyone interested in the art of moviemaking and for everyone who has enjoyed the films of Woody Allen.
From the Hardcover edition.
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, January 2010
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