Woody Allen: A Biography

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9780002557757: Woody Allen: A Biography

The first major biography and critical study of the great American film director, wit and humorist to appear since the extraordinary events in his private life made headline news in 1993. Woody Allen is one of the most significant cultural figures of our time.

When Woody Allen revealed in 1993 that he was abandoning his long-time companion Mia Farrow to live with her adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, the furore that swept the world media seemed out of all proportion to the magnitude of the principal players. Yet the news coverage soon made clear that, to his generation, Woody Allen was an archetypal figure, a role model, a laureate of the lost who spoke for millions of the dispossessed, frustrated and the inept.

Though thrown out of court, the charges of child abuse against Allen should have utterly discredited him. Yet he not only survived the scandal but flourished. His next two films, Bullets over Broadway and Mighty Aphrodite, both won Oscars.

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Review:

If sex, politics and religion are the big issues that divide people, Woody Allen can't be far behind. He is loved by sophisticates and cab drivers alike--"he's bald, he's ugly, he can't get laid--he's just like us". He is equally loathed by many who see his neurotic ticks and self- absorption as too smothering of his talent. Since Eric Lax's authorised (ie: anodyne) biography came out in 1991, Allen's life has generated huge controversy due to his relationship with Soon- Yi, the adopted daughter of his ex-partner, Mia Farrow.

John Baxter here presents a balanced account of this fraught time, and thankfully does not allow it to overwhelm the rest of the book. He proves particularly strong on his analyses of the films, tracing the development from What's New, Pussycat? to the triumph of Manhattan, and onto the darkness of Deconstructing Harry. He considers the role of Ingmar Bergman and Frederico Fellini in informing his direction, and Bob Hope and Charlie Chaplin, among others, in moulding the screen persona; but from behind this "Woody" emerges a deeply contradictory man, rather unlovable and only passingly loving, who uses a megalomaniac paranoia to drive his creativity, but which denies him happiness, at least in a conventional sense. It is to John Baxter's credit that he refrains from indulging in excessive psychoanalysis, and the result is an intelligently melancholic biography of an anhedonistic auteur. --David Vincent

From the Back Cover:

John Baxter, film critic and author of highly acclaimed biographies of Fellini, Bunuel, Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick, has written the first major biography and critical study of the great American film director, wit and humorist to appear since the extraordinary events in his private life made headline news in 1993.

When Woody Allen revealed that he was abandoning his long-time companion Mia Farrow to live with her adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, the furore that swept the world media seemed out of all proportion to the magnitude of the principle players. Yet, to this generation, Woody Allen was an archetypal figure, a role model, a laureate of the lost who spoke for millions of the dispossessed, frustrated and inept.

Allen not only survived the scandal but flourished. His nest to films, 'Bullets over Broadway' and 'Mighty Aphrodite', both won Oscars.

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