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Inside Woody Allen's world

From cult slapstick to deep character studies, Woody Allen has been all over in his extensive career. A retrospective biography explores the life of a man immortalised by classics like Annie Hall and Manhattan

Is Woody Allen funny or is he grumpy or is he grumpily funny or is there a profound persona exploring deep realities of people and the way the world is? Questions like these about him are difficult to answer in a few words, or even in several words, or a book. So, the attempt that looks back and deep into the life in cinema of this master needed to be a 287-pager, interspersed with poignant and hilarious images from the highlights of his career.

Working on his penultimate Woody  Allen film, Broadway Danny Rose (1984), cinematographer Gordon Willis perfectly captured this tender moment with Tina Farrow in the back of a taxicab.  Pic courtesy/The Kobal Collection/United Artists, Published by Thames & Hudson/Roli Books
Working on his penultimate Woody Allen film, 'Broadway Danny Rose' (1984), cinematographer Gordon Willis perfectly captured this tender moment with Tina Farrow in the back of a taxicab. Pic courtesy/The Kobal Collection/United Artists, Published by Thames & Hudson/Roli Books

On the sets of Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) with Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson
On the sets of 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' (2008) with Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson

Woody Allen — A Retrospective tells us about how he began as a humour writer at the age of 16, with his first published joke, "A hypocrite is a guy who writes a book on atheism, and prays it sells." And Allen mentions, "I was this jerky little kid in school and suddenly, my name appeared." Not Allen's own, we get to know, but a nom de plume because he did not want to be embarrassed in the Maths class the next day.

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in a scene from Annie Hall (1977). In a departure from convention, the central couple are bickering in a movie ticket line. PICS/The Kobal/United Artists Published by Hudson/Roli books
Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in a scene from 'Annie Hall' (1977). In a departure from convention, the central couple are bickering in a movie ticket line. PICS/The Kobal/United Artists Published by Hudson/Roli books

Woody Allen in the movie, Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex (1972)
Woody Allen in the movie, 'Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex' (1972)

And the journey continued from being a writer to stand-up comic to director and then, to the legend.

With Martin Landau in Crimes And Misdemeanors (1989)
With Martin Landau in 'Crimes And Misdemeanors' (1989)

Allen in Shadows and Fog (1992) which was a tribute to German Expressionist cinema
Allen in 'Shadows and Fog' (1992) which was a tribute to German Expressionist cinema

The book also delves into stories behind the classics 'Annie Hall', 'Manhattan' and many of his critically acclaimed movies.

Allen in the movie, Stardust Memories (1980)
Allen in the movie, 'Stardust Memories' (1980)

Woody Allen, A Retrospective, Tom Shone, Thames and Hudson/Roli Books, `3,016 (approx). Available at leading bookstores and e-stores

Woody Allen, A Retrospective, Tom Shone, Thames and Hudson/Roli Books, Rs 3,016 (approx). Available at leading bookstores and e-stores

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