Woody Allen: Reel to Real is a new e-book from Take2 Publishing. Written by Alex Sheremet, the author examines, in-depth, the Woodsman’s complete film career, right from its earliest days to the present. He examines, not only Woody’s directed films, but those he had a role in as an actor. The book is the most far-reaching analysis of Allen’s career so far.
Sheremet explores Allen’s early years beginning with the over blown, but popular at the time, What’s New Pussycat? for which Woody wrote the script. He also included a part for himself in the film. Sheremet calls the comedy “lackluster,” and he notes, Woody has pretty much disowned the film. During the filming, Woody was in a constant battle with producer Charles Feldman over changes made to his script. Sheremet does defend another early film, Casino Royale, in which Woody played Little Jimmy Bond. He writes, “It’s gotten more criticism than it deserves. Overall, I’d consider it more ambitious than the true Bond films albeit less successful than most of them.” Whether you agree with him or not, it makes for fascinating reading.
From here Sheremet dives into Woody’s early beginnings as a filmmaker, and then on to what is considered Woody’s best period, the late 70’s and 80’s. As expected, it begins with Annie Hall which Sheremet writes, Woody for the first time, “takes many of his now-classic preoccupations with sex, death, relationships, inevitability, and intellectual posturing (including his own!) and creates a genuine narrative out of it, not by force or gags, but simply by dropping some great characters into a landscape, and seeing how a narrative unfolds out of them.” He goes on to superbly defends some of Woody’s films that have met with disdain from either critics or audiences, and sometimes both, over the years. He provides erudite, yet easy to read, defenses of films like Interiors and Stardust Memories placing them well within Allen’s upper echelon.
Sheremet, in separate chapters, also analyses, takes on, various film critics who have loved or hated Woody. These include, Roger Ebert, Pauline Kael, Jonathan Rosenbuam and James Barardinelli among others.
While Sheremet goes into analytical discussions on Woody’s work, his references and influences, it always remains easily readable. The book is informative, intelligent and just plain enjoyable to read. If you are a Woody Allen admirer, this book is a must for your library. It is available in all e-book formats, and at over 600 pages, well worth the $7.99 price.
One other note I want to pass on. Just to make sure there is full disclosure. I am one of several writers who is quoted by the author in the book on a couple of Woody’s film.