Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Thursday 20 April 2017

Review: Chris Wade's Comprehensive Woody Allen On Screen Overview

Woody Allen is seemingly fixated on the end. He has little truck for the long haul that leads up to his inevitable demise. Life to him, like film making, is "'a different kind of pain."

Chris Wade, in his book Woody Allen On Screen, does us all a favour by dispensing with the "'did he, didn't he"'tittle-tattle of Allen"s much raked over personal life. 

What we get instead is an exhaustive and fascinating journey through the fifty-plus year career of the iconic master"s film related activities.

It is a career based on a foundation of comedy, but also built upon layers of an intricate understanding of the human condition, that gives it the depth and momentum that uncovers the truths and anxieties which concern and consume us all. 

There's a career cut-off point. There's pre-1975 when Allen was slowly edging towards complete control over his films. And post-1975 when he was able to stamp his personality ….

Allen"s first forays into film - What's New Pussycat? (1965) and  What's Up Tiger Lilly? (1966) - were neither a success nor did they give any inkling of the unique all round talent to come.

He then took the reigns for Take the Money and Run (1969): as the director, writer and lead actor.

Of the movie Wade says: "Even nearly fifty years on, Take the Money and Run is an exceptional comedy, and as a first proper directorial effort it's not lost an ounce of its boldness and vitality."

The crossroads came with Love and Death. In Wade's view the 1975 movie is Allen's first "serious" movie, and by that he means in its stylistic approach and also the themes it deals with." 


The author also feels that by the mid-seventies "Allen had become his own man, and though he had channelled Chaplin, Hope and the Marx Brothers, their influences were merely stepping stones to his own equally iconic persona and movie style."

Then the stylistic and artistic leaps just kept on coming. The populist Annie Hall (1977),  the more intense and questioning Interiors (1978), and the beauty of the black and white reels of Manhattan (1979).

Then the public were bemused by Stardust Memories (1980). Having thought they had Allen figured out as being akin to the characters he portrayed on screen, suddenly he presented them with what many saw as his most "difficult, destructive and non-commercial picture", 

Wade disagrees and believes the picture is "a complex, deep and fascinating study of egotistical self importance." 


But disproving the theory that Woody only makes movies for himself, he returned in 1982 with the more delicate and palatable A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy.

Space dictates that from 1982 to the present day I can only report that Allen"s cinematic career has produced all the highs and lows and hits and diminishing returns you'd expect from one man conceiving and committing to film almost a movie a year.

Wade concludes that the main thing he admires about Woody is "his productivity and his refusal to grow old like millions of other fogeys have done around the world. 

"Whether you like all his new movies or not, it's irrelevant, for Woody is expressing himself in as many varied and splendid ways as he can with cinema; keeping himself fresh, energetic and young at heart. 

"But perhaps most importantly for Allen, he's avoiding staring death in the face."

Woody Allen On Screen by Chris Wade is available now by CLICKING HERE. For info on Wade"s books, magazines, music making and film work CLICK HERE.

by: Mike Cobley




Share    


Brix & The Extricated has – in the words of an old Fall lyric – something of a “track record”. 

Festival 23, the world's only three-day celebration of Discordian counter-culture, took place outside Sheffield in July 2016 and was a huge success, with contributions from comics legend Alan Moore, the KLF's Jimmy Cauty, DJs Greg Wilson and Richard Norris.

Forged out of the ashes of the Brit-pop explosion, Starsailor emerged onto the music scene in the early 2000s, gaining success and spearheading a new wave of English guitar bands.

The new Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts autumn 2017 season brings to the city a rich array of artists, makers, creators and thinkers from both local and international companies and studios, in a season of performance, music, dance, film, visual art, discussion & debate. 

Having spent almost four decades in English football – playing and managing in every professional division – Brighton & Hove Albion's ex-manager Micky Adams' experience of our national game is almost unrivalled.

Thousands of people are being called on to unite against dementia by signing up for Alzheimer's Society's Brighton Memory Walk.
Image © Luke Lebihan

South East Dance has announced the start of construction at the Circus Street site, signalling the advent of the long awaited The Dance Space.

Brighton Dome is set to host a series of Spectrum live events for the autumn season, showcasing some of Brighton's best emerging talent from across the city, at The Basement, Brighton Youth Centre and Brighton Museum.

It's 1988 and London is partying hard under the spectre of AIDS, the scrutiny of the press and the promise of a summer of love.

It was with great excitement that I headed back to the Brighthelm Centre for Riptide: Returns, the second show from Brighton's new wrestling company. 

Brighton's unique, historic racecourse is the venue for an on-going series of live music events with spectacular views across the south coast, with a line-up boasting Human League, Marc Almond, Hacienda Classical with Groove Armada and Stereo MCs.

It's been thirty-six years since his last album and now Brighton-based singer/songwriter 
Pete Howells returns with his second album, Dead Cat Bounce.

Tom Robinson, the gay musician and long time activist, has performed his song Glad to be Gay with updated lyrics to mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales.

England isn't a half-bad country, right? It's got some pretty beautiful places and some awesome people in it, but like many other parts of the world over the past year or two, it just seems to be getting hit by more and more bad things, and this obviously dominates the headlines.

Archive search

Search our archives for what's on and gone for the best of this city's theatre music comedy news and much more...







Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd