With his latest movie ‘Cassandra’s Dream’ out today, we look at those essential Woody Allen’s films that should be in everyone’s collection.
Love or hate him, Woody Allen’s work will go down in cinema history. With over 40 titles to his name, he has produced some true American classics. In his latest film, Cassandra’s Dreams, he crosses the Atlantic with Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell in tow. But what are those Woody Allen films everyone should own (or at the very least see!). We look at those essential Allen films (don’t worry Scarlett Johansson isn’t in sight!).
1. Annie Hall
It’s Allen’s most celebrated film in his early years, and it easily one of his best. His exchange with Christopher Walken is one of cinema’s classic comedy moments. Of course, Diane Keaton is what really makes Hall work so beautifully, and their chemistry is undeniable.
2. Radio Days
This sentimental, clever story weaves together the coming age tale of a young boy growing up in Brooklyn and his family (all of whom live together), as well as the adventures of a radio starlet. Allen narrates the story wonderfully, making it perhaps one of the best uses of voice over in a film.
Easily one of the more bizarre of Allen’s early films, this science fiction comedy puts Allen’s sarcastic New Yorker into a future that is both silly and scary. He starts out as a relic treated with curiosity to a rebel hunted by police and ending with an elaborate kidnapping plot of a nose.
Although Annie Hall is the one people remember most, Allen and Keaton shared similar exchanges in this flick. Where Hall was more or less a romantic comedy, Bananas had elements of Allen’s more obscure humour. A tale of a this New Yorker getting caught up in a South American revolution, it’s the goofy humour of Allen’s that makes this film stand out.
5. Broadway Danny Rose
The lack of colour in ‘Broadway Danny Rose’ really gives the film a touch of beauty. And again, this wonderfuly blends the straight Allen with the more silly, seen perfectly with the scene that has mobsters sucking helium.
6. Manhattan Murder Mystery
Once again, Allen and Keaton join forces and make our list. The two bounced off one another perfectly, and their exchanges here really work. Plus the story is fun, with a sense of whimsical flair that really just seems to have been drained from his more recent efforts.
7. The Purple Rose of Cairo
The very concept of this movie is simply brilliant. A movie character comes off the screen in order to be with the woman who spends so much time watching his movie. And the execution is great, with Jeff Daniels and Mia Farrow delivering great performances. Again, it’s also black and white, which just adds to the style.
This film and the one that follows it on this list are quite simply Woody Allen’s most inventive efforts. Zelig is a pseudo documentary about a fictional man whose chameleon-like ability is explored. The film is both bizarre and brilliant. Although the mock-u-mentary has become something of a tired subgenre these days, it was spawned by some clever concepts, and this was one of them.
9. What’s up, Tiger Lily?
The “directorial debut” of Woody Allen is a film he didn’t actually direct. Or really make, for that matter. Allen removed the dialogue from a cheesy Japanese action flick and altered the story, turning it into an odd comedy about the search for an egg salad recipe. The new dialogue is performed (mostly) but Allen himself, and for the most part it’s hilarious.
10. Shadows and Fog
Noted for its collection of characters, Shadow of Fog also makes our top ten. However, it’s the final one on the list because it really sits on the fence between Allen’s more enjoyable early works, and his later, too-conversational pieces. The film has more good scenes than bad, but often gets sidetracked from the more enjoyable main story into scenes that bog it down. Not much, mind you, but enough to keep it at number 10.
‘Cassandra’s Dream’ is in Irish cinemas now.