Truly International News Journal

Truly International News Journal

Thursday, October, 6, 2022

Woody Allen’s memoirs: The coffin was always half full

Now they have appeared. From famous friends, poured women and mean reproaches: What does Woody Allen tell in his memoirs "By the way"?

The dispute over the publication is over, Woody Allen’s autobiography has been published, has been in the United States since the beginning of the week, and has now been with us (“By the way”, Rowohlt Verlag). Four translators (Stefanie Jacobs, Hainer Kober, Andrea O’Brian and Jan Schonherr) worked to get this pace and the typical Woody Allen sound, which sounds like a worn pose, from which women like ” Have cream slices made out and “long-legged sweetie” populate the bars and “Kiezen in Minirock” populate the streets.

In the beginning, it reads like the voice-over of a copy of one of the comedian’s New York films that made it from Brooklyn to Manhattan as he’d dreamed of since his first visit to Times Square. There he was seven and he was already with himself: “For some people, the glass is half empty, for others half-full. For me, the coffin was always half full. ”But there were bright spots. Especially in the cinema and at 0den “Champagne Comedies”, which played wherever he wanted to go: “In penthouses with a private elevator, in which corks popped and charming men in polished dialogs enchanted beautiful women who were lying on the sofa as if poured in Cloakroom like for a wedding at Buckingham Palace. ”Until it happened and he actually moved into a penthouse with a fantastic view of the city and stayed there for thirty-five years, even though it was raining in, like everywhere in New York, it was still a while. About two hundred pages in the book.

List of minor matters

But who will read this book to find out about cousin Rita, with whom Woody Allen, who was still called Allen Konigsberg, liked to go to the cinema as a boy, something about aunts and uncles who danced to family celebrations, or about the stolen typewriter where he started as a student to live out his early talent for the funny? Woody Allen is 84. There is a long list of trivial matters that make up life. And this is how this book reads.

The family stories give the more amusing parts until they are overlaid with lists of lunches with famous people or performances with others or the same famous people. The bumpy translation reads like this: “In Blue Angel, I performed with Nina Simone, and there I also got to know Paddy Chayefsky, Frank Loesser, Billy Rose, and Harpo Marx. Of course, they all came to see Bobby Short in the lounge. But I was a hit and I got in touch with Dick Cavett, whom the TV station he worked on sent as Scout to one of my appearances. He was immediately impressed and we quickly became friends, moved around the houses on both coasts and shared our passion for magic, Groucho, SJ Perelman, WC,

The films also continue to yawn, everyone is ticked off in chronological order of events that cannot be wrested from neither a sense nor a pathology. The search for meaning was not to be expected from a man who, at the age of five, became aware of “the finiteness of being that he had never agreed to”. An approach of reflection on his artistic work, however, maybe. Why else does someone who likes to think up jokes (“if you can do it, it is not difficult”) and declares reality an “arch-enemy”, an autobiography?

Endless dreary stories

Possibly because of the “passages” that many readers will take for the book: to publicize what he has to say about his daughter Dylan’s allegations of abuse, his relationship with Mia Farrow and the other children, and his marriage to Soon -Yi, the scandals of the past twenty-eight years. It starts on page 251, and a good fifty pages later you can finally emerge from the huge sack of dirty laundry that Allen had put upside down in.

Was the 450 pages written to frame these fifty pages in the middle? Infinitely many boring stories to come to the one that Woody Allen has rarely said publicly? Maybe that’s the way it is. Anyway, this story is the main thing among all the minor matters that make up the bulk of the book according to the title. And it infects all other parts, sometimes in subordinate clauses, sometimes in anticipation of upcoming events, which is immediately withdrawn.

Out of sheer infatuation, we learn that Woody Allen overlooked the “warning signs” in Mia Farrow’s origins and behavior. The history of mental illness in the Farrow family is spread, Mia Farrow’s abusive behavior towards her adoptive children (especially Soon-Yi) claims that her disturbingly close relationship with Ronan, who was then called Satchel, shows that she still had with her son Lying naked in bed when he was eleven years old, and Judge Wilk, who dismissed Allen’s custody complaint in 1993, is discredited as incapable and is in turn accused of imitating women with whom he worked.


It’s an uncomfortable read that doesn’t go any further until the place where Alan Dershowitz, the famous lawyer, volunteers to sweep the whole thing under the carpet for $ 7 million. Would that have happened! But Woody Allen didn’t want that, it wasn’t supposed to be because of the money. He is innocent, he writes, that he did not care about his reputation (apparently, like Mia Farrow, he put up with the mental strain of everyone involved).
According to this thick book, as far as the allegation of abuse is concerned, everything is as before: it cannot be substantiated, but the alleged victim’s statement remains and against Woody Allen’s allegation against Mia Farrow’s “Campaign for Vengeance as from Captain Ahab”. The details are told again, including intimate details from the beginning of the relationship with Soon-Yi.

In addition, there is obviously Woody Allen’s need to justify himself in questions that have nothing to do with these allegations: he counted the number of female roles he wrote (106 leading roles) – and he never hit on any of the actresses! Not even the extras, the doubles. 230 women were behind the camera as crew members and they deserved the same as their colleagues. He kept donating to civil rights organizations but was unable to employ African American actors because they didn’t fit his roles, and so on. It is to cry for. Someone who has not understood anything writes about the conditions in the industry in which he works and about the social changes that he sees himself as a victim of.

And among all of this, Woody Allen himself buries his work. He writes that he lacked the dedication that – in addition to the much greater talent, as he notes – made his contemporaries Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese great. Woody Allen preferred to be home for dinner. Like everything else, one should not take this at face value from a “joker who has turned into a filmmaker”.

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Synthia Rozario
Synthia Rozario
An editorial staff member at The Eastern Herald. Formerly, correspondent of The Eastern Express, Hong Kong.


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