Woody Allen: A Documentary

Woody Allen’s New York
This month, American Masters shines its spotlight on iconic writer, director, actor, comedian, and musician Woody Allen, who allowed his life and creative process to be documented on-camera for the first time in Woody Allen: A Documentary (Sunday, Nov. 20th and Monday, Nov. 21st at 9 p.m. on THIRTEEN). Director Robert Weide (HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth) followed the notoriously private film legend over a year and a half to create the ultimate film biography.

Join THIRTEEN for a look at some of the most memorable New York moments in Allen's films. Then leave a comment below and tell us your favorite Woody Allen movie memory!

Greetings from Brooklyn
Woody Allen grew up in the Midwood area of Brooklyn. "When I grew up, Brooklyn was a great place to live. There was very little traffic. You could stay out all day, playing ball in the street, and you couldn’t walk two blocks without coming to a movie house," he says in the new American Masters documentary directed by Robert Weide. Brooklyn features very prominently in Annie Hall (1977). Alvy Singer (Allen) grows up in a house beneath Coney Island’s Thunderbolt rollercoaster, his father works the bumper cars, and Alvy and Annie (Diane Keaton) first profess their love for each other on the pier in lower Manhattan against the backdrop of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Purple Rose of Kings County
Mia Farrow plays a Depression-era waitress who's mad about the movies in The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985). While the film takes place in New Jersey, the theater where Cecilia (Farrow) sees the madcap comedy The Purple Rose of Comedy over and over again is named after The Jewel movie house in Brooklyn — one of the first movie houses in Allen's Brooklyn neighborhood to show foreign films. The theater scenes were actually filmed in the Kent Theatre on Coney Island Avenue in Flatbush, still operating today.

Broadway Baby
In Bullets Over Broadway (1994), John Cusack (seen here with Dianne Wiest) is a playwright forced to cast a mobster's girlfriend (Jennifer Tilly) in his latest work. Allen's own experience as a Broadway playwright has been decidedly happier. His 1969 hit comedy Play It Again, Sam starred Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts, who would later appear in Annie Hall. His latest play, Honeymoon Hotel, is currently playing on Broadway as part of Relatively Speaking, a trilogy of one-acts penned by Allen, Elaine May and Ethan Coen and directed by John Turturro. It stars Julie Kavner, who has appeared in several Woody Allen films, including Radio Days, Hannah and Her Sisters, Deconstructing Harry, Alice, and New York Stories.

Chapter One, He Adored New York City.
Manhattan (1979) is the ultimate cinematic valentine to New York City, from the breathtaking opening montage with its Gershwin-infused flashes of Big Apple landmarks to the iconic shot of Allen and Diane Keaton sitting on a bench in front of the Queensboro Bridge. "I wanted to show New York in a very beautiful way, the way I see it," Allen says in the American Masters documentary. "I never had any interest in showing it except through my rose-colored glasses, my romanticized view of it."

Radio City Days
Manhattan is a dazzling mecca of all things glamorous in Radio Days (1987), Allen's tribute to The Golden Age of Radio. Recalling his mother's favorite radio show, Breakfast With Irene and Roger, Joe Needleman (Allen) says, "While my mother stood over the dirty plates in Rockaway, Irene and Roger ate their elegant breakfast over the air from their chic Manhattan townhouse while they chatted charmingly about the people and places we only dreamt of." And his memory of a Radio City movie date with his Aunt Bea (Dianne Wiest) and her boyfriend? "It was the first time I'd ever seen the Radio City Music Hall and it was like entering heaven. I just never saw anything so beautiful in my life."

Go Tell It On Mount Sinai
In Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), Allen plays a hypochondriacal TV producer who fears he has a brain tumor. After receiving a clean bill of health at Mount Sinai Hospital (Fifth Avenue and 101st Street in Manhattan), he quits his job, has an existential crisis, makes a failed suicide attempt, and rediscovers his joie de vivre while watching the classic Marx Brothers comedy Duck Soup.

Toy Story
In Mighty Aphrodite (1995), sportswriter Lenny Weinrib (Woody Allen) and his wife (Helena Bonham-Carter) adopt a baby boy. Years later, they learn their highly intelligent son's biological mother is a prostitute and part-time porn star (Mira Sorvino). At the end of the movie, Lenny and Linda have a chance encounter at the famed New York City toy store FAO Schwarz.

Murder and Mayhem
Prime New York City locations abound in Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993), a hilarious whodunnit inspired by the classic Nick and Nora Thin Man movies. Allen plays a book editor whose office is located in the HarperCollins Building (10 East 53rd Street). The characters admire the beauty of Gramercy Park while attending a wine tasting at the legendary National Arts Club, and Larry (Allen) and Carol (Diane Keaton) take their son Nick (Zach Braff, in his film debut) to The 21 Club for his birthday. According to James Sanders' book Celluloid Skyline, "21" has been featured in more New York City movies than any other restaurant.

A Broadway Danny Rose By Any Other Name...
In Broadway Danny Rose (1984), Mia Farrow's character, Tina Vitale, was modeled after Annie Rao, the wife of Vincent Rao, original owner of the popular uptown Italian restaurant Rao's. Farrow and Allen dined at Rao's often, and Mrs. Rao would chat with them. "She always had the high blonde hair and smoked a cigarette and wore the sunglasses. She was a great character, a wonderful woman," Allen remarks in the American Masters documentary. "And Mia said to me, 'I'd love to play a woman like that sometime.'"

Sweet and Hungover
Chumley's, a former speakeasy on 86 Bedford Street in Greenwich Village, is featured in Sweet and Lowdown (1999), starring Sean Penn as the fictional 1930s jazz guitarist Emmet Ray. The Prohibition-era speakeasy was established in 1926 and became a popular hotspot for John Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O’Neill, Willa Cather, James Thurber, and other literary giants. It has been closed since the chimney in the dining room collapsed in 2007 and is expected to reopen in 2012. We'll drink to that!

Woody Allen: A Documentary

We hope you enjoyed the slideshow featuring iconic New York scenes from Woody Allen's films. Tune in to Woody Allen: A Documentary from American Masters on Sunday, Nov. 20th and Monday, Nov. 21st at 9 p.m. on THIRTEEN for an unprecedented inside look at his remarkable life and career. The film also airs Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24 at 9:30pm.

Watch previews and find out more about the film on the American Masters website.

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