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Woody on Rye

Jewishness in the Films and Plays of Woody Allen

Vincent Brook

Publication Year: 2013

Although Woody Allen's films have received extensive attention from scholars and critics, no book has focused exclusively on Jewishness in his work, particularly that of the late 1990s and beyond. In this anthology, a distinguished group of contributors--whose work is richly contextualized in the fields of literature, philosophy, film, theater, and comedy--examine the schlemiel, Allen and women, the Jewish take on the "morality of murder," Allen's take on Hebrew scripture and Greek tragedy, his stage work, his cinematic treatment of food and dining, and what happens to "Jew York" when Woody takes his films out of New York City. Considered together, these essays delineate the intellectual, artistic, and moral development of one of cinema's most durable and controversial directors.

Published by: Brandeis University Press

Series: Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xxxiv

...?You don?t have to be Jewish to appreciate Woody Allen, but it helps.? T_hus quipped Foster Hirsch in the ?Jewish Connection? chapter of his one.onine.oeight.oone.o study of Allen?s f_ilms, Love, Sex, Death, and the Meaning of Life.two.w As the title of this book proposes, Hirsch?s one-liner u2014.d if expanded to the Jewishness of Allen?s oeuvre and extended to the present u2014.d still holds. Cu-...


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The Gospel According to Woody by Vincent Brook

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pp. 3-34

Annie Hall (one.onine.oseven.oseven.o) was the f_irst of Woody Allen?s f_ilms to proclaim both his coming of age as a f_ilmmaker and the coming together of his on- and of_f-screen selves. It also marks a move beyond the social and sexual constraints of the classic schlemiel. Two earlier f_ilms in which Allen starred but did not direct, Play It Again, Sam (Herbert Ross, one.onine.oseven.otwo.o) and The Front (Martin Rit_t, ...

Comparative Analysis

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The Birth of a Hebrew Tragedy by Marat Grinberg

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pp. 37-57

Sander Lee accurately points out that ?throughout Allen?s career, he has been frequently accused of narcissism and the advocacy of moral relativism, when in fact he has been, and continues to be, one of f_ilm?s most forceful advocates of the importance that an awareness of moral values plays in any meaningful life.?one.w Within his body of work, Crimes and Misdemeanors (one.onine.oeight.onine.o), ...

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A Jew Leaves New York by Curtis Maloley

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pp. 58-76

New York City has long been at the heart of Woody Allen?s f_ilmic oeuvre. Al-ways more than just a set_ting or backdrop, Allen?s New York is of_ten framed as a central character in his f_ilms, as both an extension of his characters? neuroses, insecurities, and shortcomings, and as a space of possibility and transcendence that ?comes as close as possible to a luminous ?city on the ...

Schlemiel Theory

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Woody Allen’s Schlemiel by Menachem Feuer

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pp. 79-99

At the outset of Annie Hall, Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) retells a one-liner that he says could have been told by one of two modern Jews: Sigmund Freud or Groucho Marx. It may be the most of_ten repeated Jewish joke in modern Jewish history: ?I would never want to belong to a club that would have someone like me for a member.? Singer explains to his viewing audi-...

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"Woody the Gentile" by Joshua Louis Moss

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pp. 100-121

T_here is a joke in Woody Allen?s Midnight in Paris (two.ozero.oone.oone.o) that encapsulates the central character f_law of the f_ilm?s protagonist, aspiring novelist and hack screenwriter Gil Pender (Owen Wilson). Af_ter traveling backward in time to visit his idealized Parisian bohemia of the one.onine.otwo.ozero.os, Gil self-deprecatingly describes himself to his French muse, Adriana (Marion Cotillard), with ...

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“Now You See Him, Now You Don’t” by Peter J. Bailey

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pp. 122-140

For a good while now, Woody Allen has been expressing reservations about appearing in the f_ilms he scripts. In two.ozero.ozero.ofive.o, he complained to Eric Lax that writing himself into scripts commits the f_ilm to a broad (and, af_ter all these years, somewhat predictable) humor that overdetermines the rest of the f_ilm. ?When I?m in comedies, they tend to be comic in the tradition I en-...

Women's Issues

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Woody's Women by Giovanna P. Del Negro

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pp. 143-170

From early slapstick comedies and parodies like What?s Up, Tiger Lily? (one.onine.osix.osix.o) or Bananas (one.onine.oseven.oone.o) to romantic comedies like Annie Hall (one.onine.oseven.oseven.o) and to more serious f_ilms like Husbands and Wives (one.onine.onine.otwo.o) or Deconstructing Harry (one.onine.onine.oseven.o), Woody Allen?s f_ilms are remarkably uniform in their treatment of Jewish women. As Joyce Antler and others have observed, while the narra-...

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Reconstructing Woody by Shaina Hammerman

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pp. 171-189

In two.ozero.ozero.oseven.o, two billboards advertising the clothing company American Ap-parel u2014.d one in Manhat_tan and one in Los Angeles u2014.d featured the iconic image of Woody Allen dressed as a Hasidic Jew.one.w T_hey were taken down af_ter less than a week when Allen complained that American Apparel had failed to obtain his permission. He later sued American Apparel for ten ...

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"Toot, Toot, Tootsie! (Goodbye)" by Elliot Shapiro

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pp. 190-212

Alvy Singer might begin this way: ?T_here?s an old joke. Women: can?t live with them. Can?t kill them.? T_hat this joke is of_fensive doesn?t mean it hasn?t been played for laughs. When we hear, in Manhattan (one.onine.oseven.onine.o), that Isaac (Woody Allen) tried to run over his ex-wife and her girlfriend, or when he shows up at their door and says to his ex-wife (Meryl Streep), ?I came here ...

Cultural Studies

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Digesting Woody by Nathan Abrams

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pp. 215-234

Woody Allen has made inordinate use of the nature and function of food, drink, and dining in his movies. Indeed, although post?Mia Farrow, Allen has deviated from his representational routine in a number of ways u2014.d increasingly eschewing himself as protagonist and frequently abandoning Jew York City for what he sees as the cosmopolitan Old World sophisti-...

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Schlemiel on Broadway by James Fisher

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pp. 235-258

Woody Allen?s enduring screen persona as an urban schlemiel has remained fundamentally the same across the years, whether in comic or dramatic works, and whether or not Allen himself played the role. Rife with neuro-ses and skepticism, caught between the orthodox traditions of his Jewish heritage and secular modern America, Allen?s character is also a romantic ...

Woody Allen: Filmography

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pp. 259-260

Woody Allen: Play List

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pp. 261-262

List of Contributors

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pp. 263-266


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pp. 267-278

E-ISBN-13: 9781611684810
E-ISBN-10: 1611684811
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611684797

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life