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I'd like to take a class in Woody Allen films - why certain ones work so well, why others didn't...he's just so hard for me to deal with that I think an analysis of his films would help me pinpoint why most of his work bothers me.

I can always tell it's Woody taking in his characters, and I guess if you're him, it's okay, because that's sort of how he's made his bread and butter...but its bothersome to my mind nevertheless. I can't get lost in his stories - I can only watch.

E.C. Henry

Your post are warming me up to Woody Allen, Billy. IF you so chose to do so, I think you'd be a great image consultant to politicians.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA


J, it suggests to me that you simply don't relate to the Woodman's sensibility; something about his basic persona must disturb you, so you remain outside of the emotional experience of his movies. The course you'd like to take is actually a course I'd like to teach. Are there 16-20 like-minded people like you in L.A.? If so, I could run the idea by the Writers Program people...

EC: You might start by looking at one of the good ones that Woody's not in, like (Oscar winner) "Bullets Over Broadway."


Actually, a couple of the early 2000s were some of his better films, most notably Curse of the Jade Scorpion and Match Point. I think Woody is at his best when he writes about bad people doing bad things or about crime... In real life, he's a much darker person than people realize and I think it's most truthful when he taps into that... kind of like those scenes in crime and misdemenors or movies about cheating... Just perusing his titles, Woody will make a couple of very terrific movies and then 3 or 4 subpar films.... can you name another major director that gets away with that? Former big time director Martin Brest made Gigli and has never been heard of since.

I don't think Woody Allen films are good for newbie screenwriters to learn from. In fact, I think it will produce a lot of incredibly bad screenplays. I groan as I'm typing this to see some of the Woody-ism that some Newbie will try to "pay homage" to... Billy Wilder would probably be the much better class, if I were to pick one screenwriter/director to teach a class on. Woody Allen throws a lot of tricks of artifice that kind of takes you out of the reality and know that you're watching a movie. Whereas, Wilder tries to make his stories believable, even going so far as just to make his camera movements not to take you out of that reality. I marvel at how a guy who couldn't even speak English came here, got on a movie lot and started writing structurally sound classic films. Amazing.


Eric: Wilder is of course a most course-worthy of directors. But I find Allen worthy of study, too. Meanwhile, kind of gobsmacked that you'd put "Jade Scorpion" on par with "Match Point"... but taste is taste, y'know?


Oh, lol. No. I just enjoyed Jade Scorpion...not putting it anywhere near Match Point. I just remember watching Jade Scorpion on a nice afternoon and enjoying some terrific snacks and know Woody Allen sometimes can be quite enjoyable, even when he's not hitting a home run.

A course on Woody Allen would be a curiosity and I would see it just because I'm a huge film buff... but recognize his bag of tricks would not work in the typical spec writing way of breaking in. But, for the ones who want to figure out a way to write your way into the studio system, Billy Wilder would be the guy. As Billy Wilder explained himself, there are rules that you have to observe...and that's why he succeeded where so many of the great novellists failed when they travelled over here and left with their tails between their legs (Faulkner, Chandler, Fitzgerald).. I think they even found on Faulkner's desk just one piece of paper with the lead's name on it...and he couldn't figure out what to write after that.


Billy, you've hit on one of my pet peeves! Comparing gross receipts of old and new movies is deceptive because ticket prices steadily rise over time. I've seen reports that both "Annie Hall" and "Hannah and Her Sisters" made over $100 million if you calculate using today's ticket prices. Seems like "Midnight in Paris" would have to beat that be legitimately considered Woody's biggest hit.


Whoops, that should be "to be legitimately." Here's a great chart of the top 100 movies of all time, adjusted for ticket price inflation. (One example: "Avatar," which got so much press for being the biggest grossing movie of all time, sits at #14 on this list.)


Gideon, you may be right - I'm just surprised that the usually savvy Nikki F. would make such an unsubstantiated claim. I generally defer to BoxOfficeMojo, who cite these stats for HANNAH - and this for ANNIE:
in what seem to be properly "adjusted" totals - meaning MIDNIGHT could still be on track to surpass them, by the end of its run. And the general, larger point still stands; it's essentially his biggest hit in quite some time. But thanks for calling attention to this issue; I sit sort-of corrected, while we wait for more definitive facts and figures to come in.

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I think that Woody Allan is just like a good composer - you can recognize his work right from the top. that doesn't make his films altogether the same but there are points of correlation between them...altogether I do enjoy most of his work :)

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