Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Woody Allen’s 52nd (or 53rd) Movie “Wonder Wheel” Arrived on His 82nd Birthday


Friday was Woody Allen’s 82nd birthday. It brought the release of his 52nd or 53rd film depending on how you count them. He didn’t direct “What’s New, Pussycat?” He just wrote it. And he only directed a third of “New York Stories.” But still, it’s quite an achievement.

And I know, you don’t like him because of Mia Farrow, etc. I’m skipping that part. Woody’s been married to Soon Yi Previn for 25 years and has two terrific daughters who are now adults. Everyone else skips that part.

But I’m wishing Woody a happy birthday. His work speaks for itself. Of 52 movies, more than two thirds are excellent. Among the others some are ok, some are boring, some are bad. They’re never not interesting. I could pick five favorites and maybe two I don’t like or didn’t get. (Those would “Cassandra’s Dream” and “Curse of the Jade Scorpion.”

On the plus side there’s his Oscar winner, “Annie Hall,” and its companions, “Manhattan” and “Hannah and Her Sisters.” There are the outrageous comedies “Bananas,” “Take the Money and Run,” and “Sleeper.” There’s the great mid period with “Broadway Danny Rose,” “Zelig,” “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” etc. There’s a late- mid period with “Bullets Over Broadway” and “Mighty Aphrodite.”

And then there’s the late period: “Match Point,” “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” “Midnight in Paris,” and “Blue Jasmine.”

So that’s 15 really really great movies. What other filmmaker make that claim? Plus, I have a soft spot for “Alice,” and for “Deconstructing Harry,” and for Patricia Clarkson’s part of “Whatever Works,” and Elaine May in “Small Time Crooks.” And I skipped “The Purple Rose of Cairo” (magic) and Tony Roberts constantly changing his number with his phone service in “Play it Again, Sam.”

Let’s not forget all the Oscars for actors: Diane Keaton, two for Dianne Wiest, one each for Mira Sorvino, Cate Blanchett, Penelope Cruz. And there are dozens more nominations.

So I’m celebrating Woody this weekend. “Wonder Wheel” may be flawed, but it doesn’t matter. There’s always “Rainy Day in New York.” Woody Allen’s canon is forever.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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