Last night, Woody Allen and talk show host and writer Dick Cavett were interviewed by film expert Annette Insdorf at the 92nd Street Y. Though the program focused on Allen’s Radio Days, the 1987 film for which he was nominated for an Oscar, the director spoke quite openly about the women who have shaped his life.
Allen started, of course, with Diane Keaton. The director admitted that when he first became a writer, “I could only write from a man’s point of view.” However, he said that when he started dating Keaton, the star of Annie Hall (the oft-cited favorite of Allen’s films)—whom he says he’s still “crazy about”—“she opened up a million avenues for me.”
“My relationship with her turned me around,” Allen added. “Now I think I write women better than men.”
When asked about his childhood, the director discussed his passion for magic as a child. He said he “practiced tricks endlessly,” saving his 35-cent lunch money to buy them. “The years went by, to no avail. I never was invited to parties” to perform magic, he said, nor could he ever “get anyone to pick a card.” His films have clearly been more successful than his magic, but he hasn’t hesitated to merge the two. While discussing “Oedipus Wrecks,” his contribution to the 1989 film New York Stories—he plays a lawyer whose overbearing mother participates in a magic show, disappearing and then reappearing in the sky, humiliating him in front of all of New York, including his fiancee—Allen mentioned that his mother did watch his movies, but “she enjoyed them without really understanding them. She sensed something good was happening to me,” he said.
Something good may in fact happen this weekend: Allen’s nominated for his 15th screenwriting Academy Award for Midnight in Paris. The film has also been nominated for best picture and best art direction.