Hot Best Seller

Woody Allen: A Biography

Availability: Ready to download

When it first appeared in 1991, Eric Lax's splendid biography, written with nineteen years of access to Woody Allen, was universally hailed as the definitive portrait of a film genius. The next year, as Allen's long relationship with Mia Farrow disintegrated amid scandal, a new phase of his life and work began. For this edition, Lax has written a chapter on the breakup and When it first appeared in 1991, Eric Lax's splendid biography, written with nineteen years of access to Woody Allen, was universally hailed as the definitive portrait of a film genius. The next year, as Allen's long relationship with Mia Farrow disintegrated amid scandal, a new phase of his life and work began. For this edition, Lax has written a chapter on the breakup and the personal and professional changes that followed. He chronicles Allen's next eight films, from Shadows and Fog to Small Time Crooks, and again offers Woody's candid opinions of his art and himself. Published to coincide with Allen's sixty-fifth birthday, this updated biography will continue to be "required reading for Woodyphiles" (Kansas City Star).


Compare

When it first appeared in 1991, Eric Lax's splendid biography, written with nineteen years of access to Woody Allen, was universally hailed as the definitive portrait of a film genius. The next year, as Allen's long relationship with Mia Farrow disintegrated amid scandal, a new phase of his life and work began. For this edition, Lax has written a chapter on the breakup and When it first appeared in 1991, Eric Lax's splendid biography, written with nineteen years of access to Woody Allen, was universally hailed as the definitive portrait of a film genius. The next year, as Allen's long relationship with Mia Farrow disintegrated amid scandal, a new phase of his life and work began. For this edition, Lax has written a chapter on the breakup and the personal and professional changes that followed. He chronicles Allen's next eight films, from Shadows and Fog to Small Time Crooks, and again offers Woody's candid opinions of his art and himself. Published to coincide with Allen's sixty-fifth birthday, this updated biography will continue to be "required reading for Woodyphiles" (Kansas City Star).

30 review for Woody Allen: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    One of the best biographies I've ever read and enthralling for anyone obsessed with Woody Allen. One of the best biographies I've ever read and enthralling for anyone obsessed with Woody Allen.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Patti

    This is okay if you like to read someone make out with Woody Allen for almost 400 pages. You have to do your best all through the book not to give an overshadowing "dun dun dun" whenever he mentions Sun Yi and how Woody doesn't even actually live with Mia, and doesn't really like children around him. Woody doesn't like a lot of things, actually, and Lax talks about them and gives excuses for all of them through out the book. But, he also gives some insight on how Woody rose to fame, which is also This is okay if you like to read someone make out with Woody Allen for almost 400 pages. You have to do your best all through the book not to give an overshadowing "dun dun dun" whenever he mentions Sun Yi and how Woody doesn't even actually live with Mia, and doesn't really like children around him. Woody doesn't like a lot of things, actually, and Lax talks about them and gives excuses for all of them through out the book. But, he also gives some insight on how Woody rose to fame, which is also very interesting. The thing that I really took away from this book is Allen's discussion of what makes something funny. He talks about how it's not the funny line that does it, but the straight line before the funny line. If the joke is set up correctly and the audience doesn't see it coming, then it's funnier. And that's so true.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Patrick DiJusto

    Ok, let's not mention that this book is a complete hagiography of Woody Allen. Let's not mention that it whitewashes the whole Soon-Yi thing. Let's instead talk about how badly written this book is. There are two kinds of biographies. There are the chronological ones, which start with the subject's birth or youth, and go in a more or less straight line to the present day (or the subject's death). Then there are what I like to call "situational" biographies, which are more along the lines of essay Ok, let's not mention that this book is a complete hagiography of Woody Allen. Let's not mention that it whitewashes the whole Soon-Yi thing. Let's instead talk about how badly written this book is. There are two kinds of biographies. There are the chronological ones, which start with the subject's birth or youth, and go in a more or less straight line to the present day (or the subject's death). Then there are what I like to call "situational" biographies, which are more along the lines of essays on certain topics in the subject's life. This book can't decide if it wants to be one or the other, and as a result it is a mishmash of neither. It runs more or less somewhat in a vague chronological manner, but it also digresses onto topical tangents that completely throw off the chronological structure and seem for all the world like a collection of raw author's notes, in which the writer tries to shoehorn into the manuscript every bit of Woody Allen trivia he's managed to obtain. Yes, I feel I "know" Woody Allen a little better after reading this book, but boy did I have to work at it, and as a result I'm not entirely sure it was worth the effort.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Scott Holstad

    I recall reading this and another of Eric's books quite some time before I ended up at Eric's house in Beverly Hills for a PEN get-together. I ended up writing about that day in one of my books, and ran into Eric at Book Soup Bistro on Sunset Blvd one night. We chatted for a few minutes and then I made the grave error of telling him about the publication of my new book and he inquired where he could get a copy. I made a further error in telling him that Book Soup, right next door, was carrying i I recall reading this and another of Eric's books quite some time before I ended up at Eric's house in Beverly Hills for a PEN get-together. I ended up writing about that day in one of my books, and ran into Eric at Book Soup Bistro on Sunset Blvd one night. We chatted for a few minutes and then I made the grave error of telling him about the publication of my new book and he inquired where he could get a copy. I made a further error in telling him that Book Soup, right next door, was carrying it. If I had known he would get up from his table where he was gathered with his friends and colleagues to go buy a copy, I would never have brought it up. My companion and I beat a hasty retreat. There's more to the story, but it's humorous in retrospect and long forgotten by Mr. Lax, I'm quite sure. In any event, I always thought Eric was a great guy, very active in PEN, and a high quality writer. Not everyone will agree, but I've read several biographies on Woody Allen and I've always consider Eric's to be the best, or at least my favorite. If one likes Woody Allen and/or bios, this is a good one to consider. Recommended.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David Meyer

    Since Goodreads doesn't seem to want to individually list the different editions that Lax has produced, I should mention that the version I read was published in 1991. It's an interesting biography of Woody Allen and at an interesting snap shot of time. It's written at a point where he has become known as an incredibly successful writer, director, and actor, and is still (presumably happily) sharing his lie with Mia Farrow and her (and their) kids. Obviously, it is interesting to note the author Since Goodreads doesn't seem to want to individually list the different editions that Lax has produced, I should mention that the version I read was published in 1991. It's an interesting biography of Woody Allen and at an interesting snap shot of time. It's written at a point where he has become known as an incredibly successful writer, director, and actor, and is still (presumably happily) sharing his lie with Mia Farrow and her (and their) kids. Obviously, it is interesting to note the author discussing their relationship when the reader knows of spoilers that lie ahead. The book mainly focuses on Allen's work, starting with his childhood and early love of movies and magic. The reader is then shown the path Allen's career took from his start right up until 1991. It was fascinating to see some of the risky leaps he took, including ending a lucrative career writing for television to move into other areas in his career. I felt like I achieved my main goal from reading this which was to learn a little more about Woody Allen the person.

  6. 4 out of 5

    I.D.

    While at times the book lays it on a little thick (he hit many homers) overall it’s a very revealing look at his life, career, and working habits. He comes across extremely neurotic and full of self doubt but not as a monster. The book definitely falls into the “allegations are false” camp so if you can’t accept that possibility then it’ll probably rub you the wrong way. Apart from that, worth reading and will make you want to (re) watch some old movies.

  7. 4 out of 5

    ~

    Woody Allen is a pedophile that adopts a child for the sole purpose of marrying that child after subverting the child's mind and body for more than a decade. Anything/everything else about Woody Allen should/could be taken into context after accepting the fact that Woody Allen preys upon the innocence/ignorance of children. Woody Allen is a pedophile that adopts a child for the sole purpose of marrying that child after subverting the child's mind and body for more than a decade. Anything/everything else about Woody Allen should/could be taken into context after accepting the fact that Woody Allen preys upon the innocence/ignorance of children.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Giovanni Garcia-Fenech

    Very informative, but also wildly partisan - Lax can't say a single negative thing about Woody Allen or his movies without finding a vindicating angle. On the plus side, he clearly had a lot of inside access to his subject. Very informative, but also wildly partisan - Lax can't say a single negative thing about Woody Allen or his movies without finding a vindicating angle. On the plus side, he clearly had a lot of inside access to his subject.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chrissy

    An excellent look inside the creative process and mind of one of my favorite directors. Eric Lax befriends Woody, and follows him around on the set, in the editing rooms, even to trips with Mia to Paris, and gives a rare glimpse at the often reclusive man. I love the evolution of Woody Allen and his movies. From comedic roles and projects, to his adventures into more dramatic film, they are always so smart and careful thought out. The book does a good job of showcasing the early years of Woody A An excellent look inside the creative process and mind of one of my favorite directors. Eric Lax befriends Woody, and follows him around on the set, in the editing rooms, even to trips with Mia to Paris, and gives a rare glimpse at the often reclusive man. I love the evolution of Woody Allen and his movies. From comedic roles and projects, to his adventures into more dramatic film, they are always so smart and careful thought out. The book does a good job of showcasing the early years of Woody Allen's stand-up career and how he created an iconic image of himself as the neurotic who never gets the girl, and Woody's own thoughts on how that can be both a blessing and a curse when trying to move into different types of film. Forever in love with the styles of Bergmen, he battles the persona of the goofy red-headed comic while trying to dip his feet into deeper waters and see if we will follow in after him. And we did. The book, is like a Woody Allen movie itself, exploring the inner-workings and self examination of a man trying to recapture his own love of film and translate that to pictures. I can't believe how much he re-thinks, re-writes, and re-edits his films, to the point where sometimes an entirely different film is produced than what was originated. Crazy to know that Crimes and Misdemeanors was once a love story with only a murder mystery sub-plot. After Woody saw the rough cut, he scrapped it and found his focus with murder plotlin with Martin Landau. He is notoriously secretive and private, so most of those hundreds of boxes of reels of film will most likely never see the light of day, though I hope one day they do. I would love to see the different directions that he can go in with his films. Hearing his logic behind why he doesn't read reviews, go to the Academy Awards (even when he wins them), and why he doesn't attend his own movie premieres was revealing to me, mostly because when you hear that, one could assume this is an aloof and pretentious thought. In fact, he does it because of three basic reasons. #1. He hates watching himself on screen and writhes in torment at times while watching his own performances and critiques his stand-up routines. #2 His methodology for not reading the reviews are simply that "If I believed every great thing that was said, then I'd also have to accept all the terrible things." Which I respected, but my personal favorite is reason #3. He makes movies for him. Period. Yes he wants them to be well received and yes he does hope for a profit, but the most genuine thing about Woody is how he just wants to tell a story. His story. He is still a little boy in his upstairs room in Brooklyn doing magic tricks. Once the movie is done, he doesn't need to see it anymore and the premieres and parties mean very little to him. He cares soley about the work and what it is he wants to say with it. The book was published in 1991, so it's focus was mainly on his earlier work, through the 80's & 90's. Though still fairly recent, I would love to read an updated bio, after the release of Matchpoint and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which were both turning point films that revived his career and brought him recent critical acclaim. He has been quoted to say that MatchPoint is the kind of film he always wanted to make, and I bet an inside look at that process would be just as fascinating. I loved the book. I really felt like a got to know more about the man that has always made me laugh and fall in love with movies, ever since I was very little.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. About as intimate a portrait you could ever get about a very reclusive man. This is actually an updated version (the original was released less than a year before the whole Mia Farrow/Soon-Yi debacle unfolded) with a brief update on what had happened to Allen, personally and professionally, over the past 10 years that the book had been published, with a much greater emphasis placed on his professional life. In other words, don't expect sordid details about how Woody felt when the controversy of About as intimate a portrait you could ever get about a very reclusive man. This is actually an updated version (the original was released less than a year before the whole Mia Farrow/Soon-Yi debacle unfolded) with a brief update on what had happened to Allen, personally and professionally, over the past 10 years that the book had been published, with a much greater emphasis placed on his professional life. In other words, don't expect sordid details about how Woody felt when the controversy of his relationship with Mia & the kids went down. If you want that, there's a really great (which is Steve Latin for "crap") made-for-tv movie that dramatizes Mia Farrow's life, where the whole trial is acted out with some guy never heard of doing a "great" Woody Allen-shtick. But I digress. It's certainly a worthwhile read for both the hardcore and softcore Woody Allen fans who want to know what really makes Alan Konigsberg tick. I would suggest, however, that if you're only interested in discussions on just the films and have no desire to learn about his personal life before 1992 (and bit about 92-2000), Woody Allen on Woody Allen is a more satisfying read. But definitely read this one to find out when he did things out of the ordinary outside of his work as a stand-up comic and filmmaker. Like how he used to eat bacon for breakfast all the time, but now he doesn't.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Erick

    A thorough and fun read for any fans of Woody Allen and/or his work. Lax's writing is witty and engaging--appropriate to the subject matter at hand. He had a lot of access to Woody and the people surrounding him, and the book is filled with Allen's quotes and language from his conversations with the author. That was perhaps my favorite part of this: Reading the book felt like the closest I'll ever get to conversing with Allen myself while strolling the streets of New York. The book does need anot A thorough and fun read for any fans of Woody Allen and/or his work. Lax's writing is witty and engaging--appropriate to the subject matter at hand. He had a lot of access to Woody and the people surrounding him, and the book is filled with Allen's quotes and language from his conversations with the author. That was perhaps my favorite part of this: Reading the book felt like the closest I'll ever get to conversing with Allen myself while strolling the streets of New York. The book does need another update, though: Originally published in 1991, this updated edition features one additional chapter added around 2000, which covers the happenings of that 10-year span. Of course that was already 12 years ago now, and so the book doesn't cover any of Woody's surprise European period and its unexpected successes (such as "Match Point" or last year's "Midnight in Paris"). Also, when the new chapter was added in 2000, the earlier chapters were not at all revised or retouched. So, the book needs an eventual overhaul to be brought fully up to date, but that's no flaw in the original product. For the time period it represents, it's a great read for Allen fans--and still remains (to my knowledge) the (most) definitive existing biography of the man.

  12. 5 out of 5

    liz

    This was one of the only biographies I've ever read for pleasure, not having anything to do with a school assignment. That being said, I feel like I learned a lot about the inner workings of Woody Allen, and I was instantly inspired to view more of his films with this new-found understanding. He goes in depth about where his ideas came from, and recalls vividly memories from his childhood and experiences in New York. The author does a good job of keeping it interesting, and there is a familiar t This was one of the only biographies I've ever read for pleasure, not having anything to do with a school assignment. That being said, I feel like I learned a lot about the inner workings of Woody Allen, and I was instantly inspired to view more of his films with this new-found understanding. He goes in depth about where his ideas came from, and recalls vividly memories from his childhood and experiences in New York. The author does a good job of keeping it interesting, and there is a familiar tone that seems like he is just describing one of his friends.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rob Woodard

    This is a pretty awful biography. It dwells on certain less thrilling aspects of Allen's character and misses the whole point of his career. By this I mean this book comes no where close to tapping into why the man is a comic genius. To make things worse it's not even technically accurate. This is most flagrantly shown in plot descriptions of his films that are simply wrong (who knows what else Lax missed). This is a bad book. Stay away from it if you expect to learn much useful about Allen's ar This is a pretty awful biography. It dwells on certain less thrilling aspects of Allen's character and misses the whole point of his career. By this I mean this book comes no where close to tapping into why the man is a comic genius. To make things worse it's not even technically accurate. This is most flagrantly shown in plot descriptions of his films that are simply wrong (who knows what else Lax missed). This is a bad book. Stay away from it if you expect to learn much useful about Allen's art

  14. 5 out of 5

    Martin Pepe

    Everything you wanted to know about Woody Allen but were afraid to ask. Woody Allen is the man most responsible for my deep seeded neuroses and my love of film. This is an intimate biography of a incredibly private man. It takes you through every stage of his life. As a child falling in love with film, a man making a few dollars a joke writing for the great comedians of the 50's, as a standup to scared to go on stage, and finally his growth into one of the greatest film makers of our time. A gre Everything you wanted to know about Woody Allen but were afraid to ask. Woody Allen is the man most responsible for my deep seeded neuroses and my love of film. This is an intimate biography of a incredibly private man. It takes you through every stage of his life. As a child falling in love with film, a man making a few dollars a joke writing for the great comedians of the 50's, as a standup to scared to go on stage, and finally his growth into one of the greatest film makers of our time. A great read for Allen fans and cinephiles.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jan C

    This probably would have gotten a better rating if his scandal over wedding his adopted daughter hadn't broken in the midst of my reading this. It wouldn't have been a lot better. It was still a boring book. It was too long. I've since heard Mr. Lax do commentaries on dvds and he is very knowledgeable. It could just be that he was knowledgeable and decided he wanted to get certain information in. Just too much information. This probably would have gotten a better rating if his scandal over wedding his adopted daughter hadn't broken in the midst of my reading this. It wouldn't have been a lot better. It was still a boring book. It was too long. I've since heard Mr. Lax do commentaries on dvds and he is very knowledgeable. It could just be that he was knowledgeable and decided he wanted to get certain information in. Just too much information.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Russell Warfield

    Does what it says on the tin, in a very fanboyish and gushing sort of way - a very interesting, well written account of Allen. It was written and published JUST before the scandal, however - so large portions of it are laced with a dark, dramatic irony and feel a lot less relevant today. (But on the other side of the coin, neither do you have to endure the would-be drudgery of Lax trying to justify bollocks like Scoop).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate Buford

    Just when you think you've had enough of Woody Allen, he makes MOONLIGHT IN PARIS which, not least, introduced me to its theme song, Si Tu Vois Ma Mère, as performed by Sidney Bechet. Lax's biography, done with the cooperation of Allen, takes us back to the beginning, the childhood, the formative family and then allows us to see how all of that made the man who made the movies. A really fine job. I almost like Allen. Just when you think you've had enough of Woody Allen, he makes MOONLIGHT IN PARIS which, not least, introduced me to its theme song, Si Tu Vois Ma Mère, as performed by Sidney Bechet. Lax's biography, done with the cooperation of Allen, takes us back to the beginning, the childhood, the formative family and then allows us to see how all of that made the man who made the movies. A really fine job. I almost like Allen.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Good biography of Woody Allen up to 1991, although his life changed drastically starting the following year when he took up with Soon-Yi Previn and broke up with Soon-Yi's mother, Mia Farrow. The info regarding his films up to that time is fairly complete, although I am recycling this book since I now have one that covers Woody's life up until the last couple of years. **#101 of 120 books pledged to read/review during 2016** Good biography of Woody Allen up to 1991, although his life changed drastically starting the following year when he took up with Soon-Yi Previn and broke up with Soon-Yi's mother, Mia Farrow. The info regarding his films up to that time is fairly complete, although I am recycling this book since I now have one that covers Woody's life up until the last couple of years. **#101 of 120 books pledged to read/review during 2016**

  19. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    Loved the first half of the book but the second half was bogged down in technical detail that's strictly for die hard fans. This book is more of a lovefest than the critical biography I was expecting. Loved the first half of the book but the second half was bogged down in technical detail that's strictly for die hard fans. This book is more of a lovefest than the critical biography I was expecting.

  20. 5 out of 5

    snott

    Pretty dry stuff considering it's about Woody Allen but I did only pay a dollar for the book so I guess it was worth the price also there was a U of T sticker in there from the 90's which was a bonus. Pretty dry stuff considering it's about Woody Allen but I did only pay a dollar for the book so I guess it was worth the price also there was a U of T sticker in there from the 90's which was a bonus.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Strömquist

    I have also read and reviewed the Swedish translation "Well written and as detailed as only someone very close to the subject can be. It's really essential to any fan of Woody's work." Being partly an interview book, it of course adds a lot to read it in original language. I have also read and reviewed the Swedish translation "Well written and as detailed as only someone very close to the subject can be. It's really essential to any fan of Woody's work." Being partly an interview book, it of course adds a lot to read it in original language.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne

    I read this because Woody Allen has always been an odd out of the box type person. I really do not hos movies too much, I never seem to get the jist of them. The book discusses his life but I wanted more info on some things.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Terence Manleigh

    A perfectly adequate biography of Woody dating from the peak of his powers, and of course indispensable for fans. I believe there has since been a revised edition to cover the scandale celebre and the artistic decline, but it's all rather too depressing for me to consider. A perfectly adequate biography of Woody dating from the peak of his powers, and of course indispensable for fans. I believe there has since been a revised edition to cover the scandale celebre and the artistic decline, but it's all rather too depressing for me to consider.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Clare Bear

    My mother just bought this for me from an oppie! Can't wait to start it. My mother just bought this for me from an oppie! Can't wait to start it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    Woody Allen gives "meaty" roles to women in most his movies, because of his many close friendships to real women in his life, including Letty his sister (8 years younger). Woody Allen gives "meaty" roles to women in most his movies, because of his many close friendships to real women in his life, including Letty his sister (8 years younger).

  26. 5 out of 5

    R.K. Byers

    goes from quick and sharp to slow and pondering.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joe Faust

    A dated but readable bio of Allen.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kiof

    read the interview book instead

  29. 4 out of 5

    Doug Kabak

    Good book, but a bit fawning.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Strömquist

    Well written and as detailed as only someone very close to the subject can be. It's really essential to any fan of Woody's work. Well written and as detailed as only someone very close to the subject can be. It's really essential to any fan of Woody's work.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.