Apropos Of Nothing
REVIEW by Willard Manus
always been a fan of Woody Allen, but my respect and admiration for him
deepened considerably when I read his autobiography, APROPOS OF NOTHING
(Arcade Publishing). In it Allen deals modestly and wittily with his life.
And what a life it has been, one which has taken him from a bizarre childhood
in Brooklyn to the glitzy heights of Hollywood, with such iconic films
as Manhattan and Annie Hall topping his list of
credits as writer/director/actor.
with Danny for nearly two years, Woody then returned to New York and began
writing for revues like From A to Z and television (The
Sid Caesar Show, The Pat Boone Show and The Garry
Moore Show). He also began to investigate the possibility of becoming
a stand-up comic, spurred on by the encouragement of his new manager,
Jack Rollins. He debuted on a Sunday night at the Blue Angel. After
Shelley Berman gave me the nicest, most helpful introduction a star could
give a beginner, I mounted the stage, a mass of terrors, and began. The
laughter came back so strong that Jack Rollins told me I went right into
us to the other major problem in Woodys life: his relationship with
Mia Farrow, a relationship that lasted and deteriorated over a ten-year
period and resulted in Farrow charging him with the rape of her underage,
retarded daughter (one of her ten children). Farrow later accused him
of molesting her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi, with whom Woody had fallen
love. That Soon-Yi was 22 and living on her own did not figure in Farrows
account, which motivated the tabloids and feminists like Daphne Merkin
and Gloria Steinem to denounce him as a sexual predator.
It is a miracle that Woody could survive the angry, protracted legal battles he had with Farrow and keep functioning as an artist. But thanks to his courage and fortitudeand to a successful marriage with Soon-Yi-he has been able to survive and turn out an impressive number of films, some comic, some serious, but all of them worthy. The descriptions of how he made these films and worked with such stars as Diane Keaton, Dianne Wiest, Tracey Ullman, Rob Reiner and Sarah Jessica Parker (among many others) are juicy and revealing. That he also managed to write regularly for The New Yorker, finish a couple of books, and direct plays and operas, proves what a major, multi-talented artist he is, one of the most remarkable this country has ever known.