Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Woody is serious about comedy

Cleveland Press April 23, 1971

NEW YORK -- Woody Allen -- somber, soft-spoken and worried looking -- showed up at the press conference assuring everyone that he is much better now -- about hangups and such;

"Two years ago I couldn't have had a meeting like this, he explained. "It was very hard meeting with a lot of people. When I did a night club act I held my hands over my ears when I got offstage because I was afraid to find out how long the applause was."

Allen was submitting to the ordeal of an interview in behalf of his latest movie, "Bananas," which he wrote and directed and in which he stars.

ALLEN CONSIDERS himself primarily a writer, writes every day, seven days a week. 'if you don't it's hard to get back to it," he explains.

"Writing film scripts is not much fun," he continues. The fun is making it. The script is like writing notes.

"I still tighten up in front of the camera. I m OK after I do one or two takes. As a director I set the scene and then I walk around in front of the camera and mess it up."

Thankfully, Allen is one who is not trying to see how long he can make a movie, but how short. He has no compunction about trimming and editing, actually enjoys doing it.

"I DON'T REGRET leaving anything on the cutting room floor," he says. "To me it's mercy killing. I love to cut. It's the greatest feeling in the world."

When he finished editing the film it was two and a half hours long. Then he started screening it for small groups of people to see what works in the movie. The final length is 85 minutes.

He insists that he leaves nothing in just because he thinks it is good.

"Everyone on the set volunteered criticism and I tend to think the worst criticism is right."

So far Allen has stuck to acting in his own movies.

"I would do someone else's if there was a part for me but you know, I don't get many offers," he said candidly.

ALLEN BEGAN as a gag writer for comics but he says his attempts at humor in high school and college went unappreciated.

"I wrote funny things in all my papers and reports but they always came back with all kinds of red notations."

Allen's last broadway success is "Play It Again, Sam," an effort he admits was strictly a vehicle for himself.

"It was a good commercial comedy and as good as I could write at the time. I think I could keep writing that kind of comedy indefinitely but I don't want to. I'd like to break away from the kind of thing that is killing Broadway.

"I'D LIKE TO make a radical departure. Broadway lately is nothing much more than a series of Jewish musicals which have the support of a lot of Long Island Women's clubs."

Allen will have a book out this fall entitled "Getting Even."

"It's a collection of pieces I wrote for the New Yorker plus a few special things I did for the book. I don't know why people would buy stuff that's been printed before."

The latest facet in the Allen career is clarinet playing and he has some trepidation about this.

"It's not so bad playing with five or six guys. I can sneak in gradually. But I get nervous if I have to take the lead right away. This way the clarinet is kind of disguised in all the noise."