Saturday, November 8, 2014


The Ultimate Woody Allen Film Companion (2014; author - Jason Bailey)
Think what you will about Woody Allen, but it's hard to deny that he's made the occasional pretty great movie (or in my opinion, the occasional masterpiece and a lot of great movies). What I think folks can appreciate, even if they don't love Woody himself, is a lovely book. You often hear the phrase "print is dead" bandied about quite a bit and while I realize this sentiment often seems aimed squarely at newspapers and so forth, I think we definitely have seen the production of physical books decline a huge amount in the past 20 years. It's a sad thing, but even I find myself veering towards the occasional ebook instead of its printed counterpart. I do see the advantages to digital of course and in some cases and ebook release can be hugely beneficial. Danny Peary (one of my favorite authors) just recently had the first in a series of ebooks come out. This is sho you'd things to those of us who've held onto his now (long) out of print tomes about cult films and whatnot. This ebook release may put him back on the map one would hope. But Danny was a guy who knew a thing or two about presentation. His cult movies books had a lovely layout for each entry. The covers were faulty plain, but it was the content that really mattered. Fast forward from the early to mid eighties to just ten years ago or a little more when TASCHEN started to put out their gorgeous volumes on a wide variety of subjects (I always loved the film stuff of course). They were a but pricey, but they were glorious to behold. The covers were made if a certain smooth but heavy stock and the insides were lavishly printed and covered with fascinating essays and excellent photographs. TASCHEN makes amazing books, but they also set up a nice model for others to draw upon. I wasn't a big buyer of books at that point, but TASCHEN turned me around and made me love books agsin. Big, lovely coffee-table type books are always a joy to own and display. So Voyager Press is the publisher of this new WOODY ALLEN ULTIMSTE FILM COMPANION. It's a beautiful book for sure. One that gives pleasure when you are simply holding it in your hand. It's a very inviting book too. Like the TASCHEN stuff, it has a sharply designed and smooth-to-hold outside cover which invites you to flip through the text at random. Each of the reviews grave your eye with its layout and the images chosen to go with it.
Each entry has lots of little interesting components. Under the film's title is a small gray sidebar which contains a rundown of the cast, a listing of the writers, the movie summed up "In a Nutshell" and a recap of "Recurring Themes" within. Then of course there is a lovely essay on each film by author Jason Bailey, but that's not all. Also peppered throughout each entry are regular sidebar features like "Woody on Woody" which features an interesting quote from the man himself and "Watch Out For" which talks about some special cameo or other interesting factoid about the movie in question. The book also contains other "Guest Essays" from the likes of Ezra Glinter, David Detmer, Jason Gubbels and Ashley Clark. One of my favorite features though is a great itemized map section called "Woody Allen's New York" which shows various locations throughout the Big Apple that tie into Woody's films. From the spot where Alvy Singer and Annie Hall have their first kiss to Danny Rose's apartment, this list is very detailed and I will surly make use of it the next time I visit New York.
Woody Allen's New York.
The map key to Woody's New York.
Another section that I liked very much is entitled, "Woody Allen the Film Student" and it lists several films that Woody has acknowledged as some of his favorites and those that have served as an influence on his own work. There are many movies listed here that I was already aware of, but it has a few that I never knew about and it also has a little note for each which denotes which of Allen's film's they might have influenced and in what way.
"Woody Allen the Film Student"
The book's table of contents (notice the classic Woody Allen font - which is used throughout).

All in all this is a gorgeous book from beautiful outside cover to the various posters, lobby cards and stills that are sprinkled generously within each film entry. It would make a great gift for any Woody Allen fan you happen to know.

The book was published by Voyageur Press and can be found via many online booksellers including Amazon and others.

Author Jason Bailey also wrote the book Pulp Fiction: The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino's Masterpiece ,  which can be found on Amazon as well. 

You can find Jason on Twitter @JasonDashBailey. Also here:

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