Woody Allen Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Woody Allen is best known as a filmmaker, for which he provides his own screenplays. He has written extensively for the theater and television, has supplied standup comedians (including himself) with original jokes, and has published numerous comic essays.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

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.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Allen, Woody. Woody Allen on Woody Allen: In Conversation with Stig Björkman. New York: Grove Press, 1995. A revealing series of interviews with an authority on Ingmar Bergman.

Baxter, John. Woody Allen: A Biography. London: HarperCollins, 1998. Offers insight into the life of the author-filmmaker.

Davis, Robert Murray. “A Stand-Up Guy Sits Down: Woody Allen’s Prose.” Short Story, n.s. 2 (Fall, 1994): 61-68. Compares Allen’s stories with those of Donald Barthelme; provides a reading of Allen’s best-known story, “The Kugelmass Episode,” in terms of its comic techniques.

De Navacelle, Thierry, Woody Allen on Location. New York: William Morrow, 1987; Presents an interesting portrait of Allen at work on the film Radio Days. Amply demonstrates both Allen’s seriousness as an artist and the lengthy process by which his written work is transferred to the medium of film. Indicates the importance of revision as Allen brings his films to fruition (in contrast to the apparent spontaneity of his short fiction).

Hirsch, Foster. Love, Sex, Death, and the Meaning of Life. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1984. Explores the philosophical themes that appear consistently throughout Allen’s work. Helps to establish a continuous thread in Allen’s prolific career and shows how some of the disturbing questions...

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