A celebratory biography of the director “whose public persona is instantly and eternally assumed to be his real personality.”
In an email quoted in its entirety, Woody Allen advised Evanier (All the Things You Are: The Life of Tony Bennett, 2011, etc.) against writing this book. “All the facts about my life have been written about and rewritten about,” Allen said, “and my work has been dissected in books and articles all over the world for years.” He was concerned, as well, that the author’s assessments of his movies were “wrong-headed appraisals and would not add anything to the cultural landscape.” Unfortunately, Evanier persisted, and he has produced a bloated, repetitious, overly rapturous biography filled with plot summaries, reviews, and excerpts from Allen’s many interviews and profiles. His interviewees include a few of Allen’s childhood friends; colleagues, such as his casting director; his forgiving first wife, Harlene Rosen Allen; a writer who confesses that she is “one of Allen’s most obsessed fans”; critics John Simon and Richard Schickel; and Dick Cavett, whose interview with the author appears in full. “This is not a blow-by-blow or a standard critical biography,” writes the author, but rather an effort to “make Allen known and understood in a deeper way.” To Evanier, Allen “is the most amazing phenomenon in the history of American show business,” greater even than Charlie Chaplin. “His continuity and high rate of productivity are unprecedented,” though some work falls short: “Interiors,” for example, “is practically unwatchable.” Not surprisingly, the author mounts considerable evidence to defend Allen against accusations of sexual impropriety regarding his affair with Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter and sexual abuse of another daughter. Evanier concedes, however, “that Allen appears to feel guiltless about his behavior toward women. He seems to feel no sense of responsibility,” an attitude that does not diminish the author’s adulation.
A fan letter in the form of a biography.