Woody Allen is widely accepted as one of the most talented American humorists and filmmakers of his time. This assessment is reinforced by a considerable number of prestigious awards garnered by Allen over the years. These include a Sylvania Award in 1957 for a television script he wrote for the Sid Caesar Show, Academy Awards for best director and best original screenplay in 1977 for Annie Hall (1977), British Academy and New York Film Critics Awards in 1979 for Mahattan (1979), and New York and Los Angeles Film Critics Awards in 1987 for Hannah and Her Sisters (1986).
Similar recognition for Allen’s dramatic film efforts has been slow in coming. Interiors (1978) and September (1987) both were greeted unenthusiastically by critics. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), a more difficult film to categorize, may have been an important breakthrough in this regard.
Though overshadowed by his film career, Allen’s short fiction has been well appreciated by critics. His story “The Kugelmass Episode” won an O. Henry Award in 1977. His collections of short fiction have generally been reviewed favorably. In addition to its own considerable merit, Allen’s short fiction has served as a breeding ground for themes, ideas, and images more fully developed later in his films. Thus, while Allen’s short stories certainly lack the polish and perfectionism of his motion pictures, they have played an important role in helping Allen to excel as a screenwriter and director. Given Allen’s marvelous productivity during his career, they also have contributed to his reputation as an artist whose creative juices never seem to ebb.