Iconic writer, director, actor, comedian, and musician Woody Allen allowed his life and creative process to be documented on-camera for the first time. With this unprecedented access, Emmy®-winning, Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Robert Weide followed the notoriously private film legend over a year and a half to create the ultimate film biography.
“This is the Woody doc everybody has been waiting for, and I am delighted that this creative giant is finally assuming his rightful place in the American Masters library,” says Susan Lacy, series creator and executive producer of American Masters, a seven-time winner of the Emmy® Award for Outstanding Primetime Non-Fiction Series.
“Woody Allen was always the big ‘get’ for me,” says Robert Weide, best known for his long-term directing/producing stint on Curb Your Enthusiasm, which earned him Emmy® and Golden Globe® Awards. “The prolific nature of Woody’s output has provided me with an embarrassment of riches. In fact, Woody will have made three features just in the time it’s taken me to make this one documentary.”
Beginning with Allen’s childhood and his first professional gigs as a teen — furnishing jokes for comics and publicists — American Masters – Woody Allen: A Documentary chronicles the trajectory and longevity of Allen’s career: from his work in the 1950s-60s as a TV scribe for Sid Caesar, standup comedian and frequent TV talk show guest, to a writer-director averaging one film-per-year for more than 40 years. Weide covers Allen’s earliest film work in Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Sleeper, and Love and Death; frequent Oscar® favorites such as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, Purple Rose of Cairo, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Husbands & Wives, Bullets Over Broadway, and Mighty Aphrodite; and his recent globetrotting phase with Match Point, Vicky Christina Barcelona, and this year’s box office smash Midnight in Paris.
Exploring the ultimate “independent filmmaker’s” writing habits, casting, directing, and relationship with his actors, Weide traveled with Allen from the London set of You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger — a major coup “considering Woody has never allowed so much as an EPK [Electronic Press Kit] crew on his sets,” claims Weide — to the Cannes premiere of Midnight in Paris this May. He also filmed Allen at home, in the editing room and touring his childhood haunts in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. New interviews provide insight and backstory: actors Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Penelope Cruz, John Cusack, Larry David, Mariel Hemingway, Scarlett Johansson, Julie Kavner, Diane Keaton, Martin Landau, Louise Lasser, Sean Penn, Tony Roberts, Chris Rock, Mira Sorvino, Naomi Watts, Dianne Wiest, and Owen Wilson; writing collaborators Marshall Brickman, Mickey Rose and Doug McGrath; cinematographers Gordon Willis and Vilmos Zsigmond; Allen’s sister Letty Aronson; longtime manager Jack Rollins; casting director Juliet Taylor; pals Dick Cavett and Martin Scorsese; and others.
American Masters – Woody Allen: A Documentary also touches on Allen’s contributions as a writer for the theater and his casual pieces for The New Yorker, as well as his frequent moonlighting gig as a clarinet player with a New Orleans-style jazz band. “He never refused a request and he never declined to answer a question,” says Weide. – PBS
It's hard to draw a complete and exhaustive picture of an artist with a career as big and diversified as Woody Allen's, even in a 3 and a half hours documentary, but this film tries to do so, and it really does a good job. It made me want not only to watch Woody Allen's movies I haven't seen in years, but also to watch more movies in general.
I have been a Woody Allen enthusiast since I was seventeen years of age and stumbled across 'Annie Hall' on ITV late one December evening around Christmas time. Since then I have avidly collected all his works and read innumerate articles and books on the great man. Woody has been in my top three greatest filmmakers for years and always wil bel. It will be a sad day when he finally stops rolling the camera.
A long – the three-hour version must surely be better than the shortened edited-for-cinema version – but engaging and well-made documentary about Woody Allen, one of my favourite directors. It makes… read review