The first major biography and critical study of the great American film director, actor, writer, 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.
Woody Allen has long been an enigma, obscured by a façade no less carefully constructed than his films. Where does the real Woody Allen begin and the film character end? John Baxter shows how the reality gave way to the image of a nebbish: a whining (but lovable) loser, racked by insecurity, bullied by women and taking solace in psychoanalysis. He demonstrates that the ‘Woody’ of Allen’s films is as remote from the real man as was the ‘Little Tramp’ from Charlie Chaplin.
Woody Allen’s films are celebrated for their wit and their ironic characterisations of Manhattan types, together with their neuroses. The best of them rank among the finest of all screen comedies. Allen not only survived the scandal and furore that swept the world media when he abandoned his long-time partner Mia Farrow to live with her adopted daughter Soon-Yi, but flourished – his next two films, Bullets over Broadway and Mighty Aphrodite, both won Oscars.
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Woody Allen has long been an enigma, obscured by a façade no less carefully constructed than his films. How fine is the autobiographical line between film character and the reality? How far has Allen retrospectively rewritten his life? To answer these questions, John Baxter examines the prolific artistic career of one of the few people to have successfully played all three roles of writer, director and star.
Allen's films are celebrated for their wit and their ironic characterisations of Manhattan types, together with their neuroses. The best of them – 'Annie Hall, Manhattan, Crimes and Misdemeanours, Bullets Over Broadway '- rank among the finest of all screen comedies. Even his well-publicised rift with his long-term partner Mia Farrow and his subsequent affair with (and marriage to) her adopted daughter Soon-Yi apparently failed to dent the calibre of his film-making or the loyalty of his audience.
John Baxter, whose previous books include acclaimed biographies of Ken Russell, Fellini, Buñuel, Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick, shrewdly deconstructs Woody, revealing his attitudes to Jewishness, sexuality and mortality, his obsession, his cinematic and writing influences, his manipulation of celebrity and, above all, his role as court jester of the Manhattan intellectual élite.
“Baxter's 'Woody Allen' is the best yet.”
Sheridan Morley, 'Sunday Times'
“A splendidly written, exhaustive account . . . a major achievement.”
Baret Magarian, 'Observer'
“A bracing corrective to the usual po-faced, sycophantic studies of the cult of Woody.”
Sean Macaulay, 'Mail on Sunday'
“Elegantly written, often hilarious.”
Humphrey Carpenter, 'Sunday Times'
“Thorough, series, mercifully un-sycophantic.”
Anne Chisholm, 'Sunday Telegraph'
John Baxter is a film critic, novelist, biographer and broadcaster. His previous film books include The Hollywood Exiles, An Appalling Talent: The Life of Ken Russell, Science Fiction in the Cinema, Fellini and Bunuel. His first book for HarperCollins, Steven Spielberg, was published in 1996; and his biography of Stanley Kubrick in June 1997.
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