by Paul Fischer
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Woody Allen. That face and the mind inside that head have been making people laugh for more than 40 years. His private life . . . well, that's another story, and one we're not about to trudge through here. Allen, when he sat down with about a dozen of us press types to talk about Small Time Crooks, got the biggest laugh when he inadvertently cracked "I'm not a Hypochondriac! I'm an Alarmist!" to a comment about an oncoming cold.
Allen regularly turns out one film a year, usually serious characters and situations with strong comic undercurrents. Small Time Crooks is the closest thing to the slapstick flicks like Take the Money and Run that marked the early days of his career, though there's only one purely visual gag in the movie. In addition to starring Tracy Ullman and Hugh Grant, STC also features his first teaming with Elaine May, a nightclub superstar, when Allen first started doing standup and comic legend, in her own right. We'll cover this connection, and the ins and outs of his writing style in this StarTalk (use your recollections of Allen's speech patterns to make this read well. He really does speak that way . . .)
People are calling this movie a throwback to your slapstick roots. What
do you say to that?
We've always heard that you disparaged the idea; that you knew you could make
people laugh, you just wanted to do something a little more serious.
So where do the ideas come from. In the bathtub? Do you lock yourself
in a room?
Is there one film that comes to mind, where you had to do that?|
Woody Allen: Purple Rose of Cairo
[and the entire room goes "Oh??"]
Woody Allen: Purple Rose was a film that I just locked myself in a room. The truth of the matter is, I tried to write that . . . that the guy steps off the screen, and I wrote it and halfway through it didn't go anywhere and I put it aside. I didn't know what to do. I toyed around with other ideas. Only when the idea hit me, a long time later, that the real actor comes to town and she has to choose between the [screen] actor and the real actor and she chooses the real actor and he dumps her, that was the time it became a real movie. Before that it wasn't. But the whole thing was manufactured.
Tell us about the manufacturing of Small Time Crooks.
Let's talk about Elaine May
She's also a bit of an older love interest for you
Her character was always the half-wit?
Are you going to do more recordings with your jazz band? [question from
David Jenkins, thanks!]
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