Every Johnson needs his Boswell. Woody Allen’s seems to be a man called Eric Lax, who has so far given us Woody Allen: A Biography and On Being Funny: Woody Allen and Comedy, and may conceivably have another half dozen or so such titles up his sleeve. One day it might be quite interesting to find out how you start out, young and hopeful, as a perfectly ordinary writer writing about lots of different subjects, and end up as the ever-faithful cheerleader for a great man. I suspect that this is the subtext of this strange but unquestionably enjoyable book, which does what it says on the tin. Laxy has been interviewing his hero on and off since the early 1970s, and he admits somewhere in the margins of this book (somewhere, I have to admit, I now can’t find) that these conversations have been edited down from a million words, or maybe ten million – an awful lot, anyway. Early on, it seems, he acquired the auteur’s trust, and has never relinquished it. Accordingly these are remarkably open, candid and revealing conversations. Anyone with even a passing interest in the film business will find much here to enjoy.
Allen has, of course, had a long and eventful career. Starting out as a joke writer in his teens, he progressed to stand-up comedy and film acting and writing with the enormously successful What’s New Pussycat?, after which he started making his own films – roughly one a year for