Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The notoriously reclusive comedian/filmmaker Woody Allen forsook his characteristic silence to engagingly participate in this 90-minute TV documentary. Speaking in his celebrated shambling, self-deprecatory manner (but generally avoiding jokes and one-liners), Allen discusses his cinematic philosophy, specifically his ongoing romance with New York City and his fascination with the female of the species. Woody's earlier, funnier comedies are given short shrift, leading the more impressionable viewer to conclude that Allen's directorial career began with the Oscar-winning Annie Hall. Though his films are generously represented with lengthy clips from Interiors, Manhattan, Broadway Danny Rose, Stardust Memories, Shadows and Fog, and the like, at least one of Woody's co-stars is conspicuous by her absence. For reasons that should be familiar enough to readers without further comment, Mia Farrow refused to allow any of her scenes to be used -- meaning that, for example, Hannah and Her Sisters was represented minus a single closeup or longshot of the titular Hannah. The documentary concludes with tantalizing samples from Allen's (then) newest theatrical release, Hollywood Ending. Written, produced, and directed by film critic/historian Richard Schickel, Woody Allen: A Life in Film debuted May 4, 2002, on the Turner Classic Movies cable network.