• Post category:Television
  • Post last modified:December 1, 2019

Woody Allen: A Documentary

woodyallendocumentaryOriginally shown as a two-part event on the PBS show American Masters, this is Robert B. Weide’s fourth documentary on comedians, a frequently entertaining and engrossing look at one of the hardest working men in showbiz. Over the course of three hours we learn what motivates him, what makes him great and how he works as a director and a writer; he makes it look deceptively simple. Woody Allen talks about his movies and shows us where he grew up; friends, colleagues, scholars (there’s even a priest) and collaborators shed further light on Allen and his life. Certainly makes you want to watch all of his movies again. For a more critical portrait of the director, look elsewhere; even the sordid details of his breakup with Mia Farrow is from Allen’s perspective.

2011-U.S. Made for TV. 195 min. Color-B/W.Ā Produced, written and directed byĀ Robert B. Weide.

Trivia:Ā Released theatrically in many countries outside the U.S.; alternative version runs 113 min. Among those interviewed in the film: Diane Keaton, Josh Brolin, Dick Cavett, PenĆ©lope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson, Larry David, John Cusack, Mariel Hemingway, Julie Kavner, Martin Landau, Louise Lasser, Sean Penn, Chris Rock, Martin Scorsese, Mira Sorvino, Naomi Watts, Dianne Wiest and Owen Wilson.

Last word: “Woody Allen was always sort of a dream that I had. I wrote him a letter, asking him if he’d be interested in letting me do a documentary on him, and I got a very polite ‘no thank you’, which was the same response that he’d given to every filmmaker that had asked him the same question. He just doesn’t like the idea of tribute, people making a big fuss over him. He doesn’t really think he’s that great. So then I tried again, probably ten years later, and I think there was a third time, and each time was a very polite ‘no thank you’. I just was determined to turn him around. And so I wrote him a letter and I just really made him the case in the letter, and told him why I wanted to make this film. And sure enough, I heard back from his assistant a few days later, and she said, ‘Well, Woody wants to knowĀ if he were to agree to this…’ And as soon as she said ‘if he were’, I said, ‘I’m in’.” (Weide, PBS)

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