woody allen movies by theonething


									                                   ENGLISH 42B/142B
                             THE FILMS OF WOODY ALLEN

Robert M. Polhemus
Fall, 2008
Office: 302, Margaret Jacks Hall (Bldg. 460)
Office Hours: Tuesday, 1:30-3:00, Thurs. 1:30-3:15 and by appointment
Phone: 723-4226, 723-2635
e-mail: polhemus@stanford.edu
Course Time: T, Th 11:00-12:30, section to be announced
Course Location: Bldg. 200 (History Corner), Room 205


       The central concern of this course is to view, study, think about, and discuss
representative films of Woody Allen, one of the most influential, prolific, controversial
and significant filmmakers of the second half of the twentieth century and one of the
major figures in twentieth-century comedy. We will stress his comic vision; his attitudes
towards—and representation of—the human problems of sex, love, gender relations, faith
and death in his films; his cultural importance; and the development of his career and
work. We will view and discuss approx. one film a week (maybe 12). Each student will
be asked weekly to give responses and submit questions on the films. There will be one
take-home midterm and a take-home final at the end of the quarter. Attendance is
required. I want you to see the films together at the assigned time.
       The option to take the course for three units as English 42B is open to
undergraduate non-English majors, and they will be assigned less written work.


Love and Death
Annie Hall
Stardust Memories
Broadway Danny Rose
The Purple Rose of Cairo
Hannah and her Sisters
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Husbands and Wives
Deconstructing Harry
Match Point
(Optional and recommended, Everyone Says I Love You, Bullets Over Broadway, Sweet
      and Lowdown, Radio Days, Mighty Aphrodite, Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona )

Allen, Side Effects, Without Feathers
Allen, Four Films of Woody Allen: Annie Hall, Interiors, Manhattan, Stardust Memories
Bjorkman, Stig , Woody Allen on Woody Allen (Grove)
Bailey, Peter. J., The Reluctant Art Film Art of Woody Allen (recommended). Contains
full 20th c. bibliography for Allen.
Woody Allen: Interviews, edited by Robert E. Kapsis and Kathie Coblenz (Jackson:
University Press of Mississippi, 2006). Besides fascinating interviews, contains very
useful recent filmography
Polhemus, Lot’s Daughters (recommended). Important biographical info in Chapter 11
on Allen and on the collaboration and interaction of Allen and Mia Farrow.

Movies (Viewing Dates)

September 23   Introduction and Organization, various film clips
September 25   Love and Death
September 30   Annie Hall
October 7      Manhattan
October 14     Stardust Memories
October 21     Zelig
October 28     Broadway Danny Rose
October 30     Hannah and Her Sisters
November 4     The Purple Rose of Cairo
November 11    Crimes and Misdemeanors
November 18    Husbands and Wives
December 2     Deconstructing Harry
December 4     Match Point


Read films scripts available for the films assigned, preferably very shortly after you see the

September 25          Bjorkman, ,Allen on Allen, Ch. 2 “Take the Money and Run”, Ch. 4
”Play It Again, Sam”, Ch. 7 “Love and Death”; Kapsis and Coblenz, Woody Allen
Interviews, Kelley, ”A Conversation with the Real Woody Allen”(pp. 7-28)

September 30         Bjorkman, Ch. 8 “Annie Hall”; Kapsis and Coblenz, Woody Allen
Interviews, Gary Arnold (pp. 29-32); recommended: Bailey, The Reluctant Art Film Art of
Woody Allen, pp. 33-44.
October 7     Bjorkman, Ch. 10 “Manhattan”; recommended: Bailey, The Reluctant Art
Film Art of Woody Allen, pp. 47-56; Allen, Side Effects, “Retribution”.

October 14     Bjorkman, Ch. 11”Stadust Memories”; recommended: Bailey, The
Reluctant Art Film Art of Woody Allen, pp. 85-99.

October 21       Bjorkman, Ch. 12 “A Midsummer Night‟s Sex Comedy/Zelig”; Kapsis and
Coblenz, Woody Allen Interviews, Michiiko Katutani, “How Woody Allen”s Zelig was
born . . .” (pp. 73-77); recommended: Bailey, The Reluctant Art Film Art of Woody Allen,
pp. 233-239.

October 28    Bjorkman, Ch. 13 Broaday Danny Rose; Kapsis and Coblenz, Woody Allen
Interviews, Robert Benayoun, “Interview with Woody Allen (pp. 78-82) ; recommended:
Bailey, The Reluctant Art Film Art of Woody Allen, pp. 101-111.

October 30     Bjorkman, Ch. 15, Hannah and Her Sisters; Kapsis and Coblenz, Woody
Allen Interviews, Alexander Walker, “Woody Allen (pp. 92-105); recommended: Bailey,
The Reluctant Art Film Art of Woody Allen, pp. 113-128.

November 4, 6         Bjorkman, Ch. 14, The Purple Rose of Cairo; recommended: Bailey,
The Reluctant Art Film Art of Woody Allen, pp. 155-154; Allen, Side Effects, “The
Kugelmass Episode.”

November 11, 13       Bjorkman, Ch. 20, Crimes and Misdemeanors; recommended:
Bailey, The Reluctant Art Film Art of Woody Allen, pp. 131-143; Polhemus Ch. 11, Lot’s

November 18, 20      Bjorkman, Ch. 23, Husbands and Wives; Kapsis and Coblenz,
Woody Allen Interviews, Douglas McGrath, “If You Knew Woody Like I Knew Woody”
(pp. 116-129); recommended: Bailey, The Reluctant Art Film Art of Woody Allen, pp.
183-196, Polhemus, Lot’s Daughters, Ch. 11, “Woody and Mis.”

December 2, 4       Kapsis and Coblenz, Woody Allen Interviews, Michel Ciment and
Franck Garbarz, “Woody Allen: „All My Films Have a Connection with Magic” (pp. 169-
178); recommended: Bailey, The Reluctant Art Film Art of Woody Allen, pp. 241-253.


     A take-home final. Students will also be asked to write out questions and/or a brief
     comment or observation about the Woody Allen film for the week. There will be
     one take-home midterm. You might write on Allen movies not assigned for the
     midterm--that might be possible with the professor‟s approval approval.
CLASS TOPICS (the topics for you to think about and take seriously will have direct or
    indirect links to the viewing for the week):

     September 23: Introduction and Organization

     September 25: Early Allen films: are they dated? Do they hold up? Is Love and
     Death still funny and relevant? What makes lasting, funny comedy? Political
     significance of Love and Death--is it, for example, a powerful anti-war movie? Do
     you have to be shallow and/or unthinking to say that the early Woody Allen is the
     best? Sex in Love and Death and early Allen. Compare Allen to Chaplin, to Marx
     Bros., to W. C. Fields, to Bob Hope.

        September 30, October 2: Relationship of Allen's biography to the film Annie
Hall; What's anhedonia and are anhedonia and Annie Hall the same thing? Why did
Annie Hall win the Oscar? Relationship between popularity and merit? Identity
aesthetics and group identity--do you have to be Jewish to really understand and
appreciate Woody?

      October 7, 9: Are Allen's early comedies, and specifically Annie Hall and
Manhattan amoral, moral, immoral--does it matter? Manhattan and the difference
between black-and-white and color; the relationship between Ike and Tracy: is it sick?
healthy? And what issues does it get at? Is this movie misogynist? Explain and evaluate
Woody Allen‟s list of the good things of life in this movie. Is this a great film? A weird
film? A bad film?

      October 14, 16: Stardust Memories: Fellini—Woody the rip-off: yes or no? Why
do Allen viewers split so drastically on this film—it‟s loved and reviled—why?
“Celebrity” as a subject matter in Allen (you might want to compare Stardust Memories
with Celebrity). What is the character of the Woody-Sandy figure like, and is this
character different from the earlier “Woody” figures(s)? What is the effect of so many
grotesque images of people in the film, and why did Allen make grotesque vision such a
big part of this film? Which train (from the start of the film) are you on?

      October 21, 23: Zelig as a major work of 20th c. history and art; the psychology of
Zelig; what is heroism in the modern world? Why would world-class intellectuals
participate in a Woody Allen movie? —in this movie? What has this movie to say about
conformity and group identity?

      October 28, 30: Broadway Danny Rose as a vision of show biz in American life.
The relationship of BDR to The Godfather, The Sopranos, The Departed and America‟s
obsession with the Mafia as entertainment; the morality of Danny Rose; why do nice
guys finish last (and do they?). Is Hannah and Her Sisters optimistic, pessimistic,
idealistic, or cynical? Is Hannah admirable or deeply flawed? How would you judge the
acting in Hannah and Her Sisters?
       November 4, 6: Why is The Purple Rose of Cairo both Allen‟s and Farrow‟s
favorite film that they made together? Purple Rose: comedy or tragedy or what? Does
art justify life? Compare Buster Keaton‟s Sherlock Jr. with The Purple Rose. The
portrayal of women in PRC? Tom or Gill: what‟s the right choice?

      November 11, 13: What are the qualities of this film (Crimes and Misdemeanors)
that make it suitable (or unsuitable) to assign to IHUM courses for all freshmen? Do the
two halves of this movie work well together or do the jangle and weaken the work? Is
the movie cynical? Is it morally scary? Is it a great movie? What is a great movie?
Who is Primo Levi?

      November 18, 20: Analyze two major characters in Husbands and Wives. How
does it Allen‟s attitude towards sex and marriage changed over his movie-making
career—or has it? Discuss the effect of the camera work and the interview technique in
Husbands and Wives. Analyze Mia Farrow‟s performance—does he reflect her personal
trauma in any of her scenes or not? The break-up of Allen and Farrow.

      December 2,: Deconstructing Harry: why has Allen become loathed by many of
his former fans? Is Deconstructing Harry an immoral film? Is it decadent, racist, or
nasty? What is the relationship between art and life in this film? --in Allen generally?
Why, in a time when Allen is politically incorrect in so many ways, is he still popular
with many?

      December 4: Match Point: is this a nihilistic film? an immoral film? a courageous
film? What do you think of the importance Allen assigns to luck in life? its role in this
film? As an audience member for this film, do you want the protagonist to be caught or
not? Does the plot of the movie have general relevance to the conditions of life and
success? What do you think? What are the best parts of the film for you and what are the
worst? What works in it?

Read the film scripts for:
Annie Hall
Stardust Memories
Broadway Danny Rose
The Purple Rose of Cairo
Hannah and her Sisters
Husbands and Wives

(Scripts for Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point are not now available

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