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    Eighty Years Young

    Posted by Mike Finnegan on

    Born 80 years ago today in Brooklyn, NY, Allan Stewart Konigsberg, known to the world as Woody Allen, has built up quite a lifetime of entertainment triumphs and failures, as well as personal controversies and mundanites. David Evanier, who has authored biographies of Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin and other showbiz greats, recently published Woody, an analytical stroll through the award-winning comedian/moviemaker’s life and works. It’s more than a tribute to its subject’s prodigiousness – to date he’s written 48 films, directed 45 and appeared as an actor under the direction of such notables as John Huston, Martin Ritt, Paul Mazursky, Jean-Luc Godard, Alfonso Arau and John Turturro. Through it all, including the stormy periods in his life, Evanier writes, “Allen remains what he has been all along: the most prolific and productive American filmmaker of his time. His pattern remains the same: If he makes a good film, he isn’t really due for another outstanding movie for at least two or three more. He still ranges from the sublime to the wretched and back again.” He adds: “Allen has reshaped the landscape, but not by having mega-hits….In the end he does what no one else can do: He makes bright intellectual films that aren’t cerebral talkfests. His films appear to have more dialogue than they actually do. And he makes quirky films that aren’t one-liner machines. He creates extraordinary female characters without revering women.” For nearly two years now, Twilight Time has invited ongoing appraisal of this singular talent’s awesome output by bring many of his gems to hi-def Blu-ray: Love and Death (1975), A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982), Broadway Danny Rose (1984), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Radio Days (1987), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), Shadows and Fog (1991) and his astute acting turn in Ritt’s The Front (1976). More is on tap for 2016, both from his deep library on TT hi-def Blu-ray and new work from the endlessly inventive octogenarian himself, a new movie and a six-part Amazon series. Despite the considerable body of biographical and evaluative studies of the man and his oeuvre already out there, Evanier’s new tome, a thoughtful kaleidoscope of Allen’s cultural impact, is an absorbing must-read. By any standard, that’s the definition of the term “80 years young.”