Cover image for The unruly life of Woody Allen : a biography
The unruly life of Woody Allen : a biography
Meade, Marion, 1934-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Scribner, [2000]

Physical Description:
384 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1998.3.A45 M43 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
PN1998.3.A45 M43 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Author Notes

Marion Meade is a graduate of Northwestern University and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Meade has contributed articles to The New York Times, The Village Voice, and Ms. magazine. She lives in New York City

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This biography begins with a prologue that recounts the events of 13 January 1992, which led up to Mia Farrow, Woody Allen's longtime lover, discovering on the mantle of his fireplace nude photographs of her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi. And how could this be? With such a beginning, Meade effectively informs the reader that this biography will concentrate on its subject's unruly private life and yield an analysis of its subject's character. Basically, Meade finds that Woody is a man of hatred--hatred of his mother and most women, especially his long-suffering first wife, which he expresses in his material; hatred of crowds, in spite of becoming a stand-up comic; hatred of television, which "did not prevent him from accepting every booking that came his way"; and hatred of school and reading. It follows that Woody was a constant whiner. Meade concludes that that night back in January 1992 was the defining incident in Woody's life, and as a result, he now appears older than his 64 years and (because he and Soon-Yi have adopted a baby) may "suffer fertility problems." Meade may suffer a few incivility problems of her own. Recently, Quentin Crisp passed away. It was noted at the time that he was the quintessential gentle person for whom manners mattered and rudeness was to be avoided at all costs. (For example, if one must turn down a marriage proposal, don't just say no, say that you "are not worthy.") As far as this book is concerned, Meade's philosophy can be summarized thus: if you don't have something bad to write about someone, don't write anything at all. --Bonnie Smothers

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the second Allen bio in as many months, novelist and biographer Meade (Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This?) provides a psychologically nuanced, tough-minded portrait of the filmmaker that's a good counterpoint to John Baxter's exhaustive coverage of Allen's oeuvre in Woody Allen: A Biography (Forecasts, Nov. 15). While Meade certainly doesn't slight Allen's work, she has a better feel than the Paris-based Baxter for Allen's milieu, including the role of New York film critics, and uses a broader mix of sources to reconstruct it. (Allen refused to cooperate.) Accenting her agile narrative with pertinent shtick from his films, she presents Rashomon-like observations from friends and enemies about Allen's loyalty and ethics. Once Allen's affair with Soon-Yi Previn was made public, even sympathetic interviewers--like 60 Minutes's Steve Kroft--related to the author that Allen was oblivious to the impropriety of a relationship with his wife's adopted daughter. Meade's lengthy account of the child custody battle between Allen and Farrow will remind readers that the judge considered him a terrible father, perhaps even an abuser. When it comes to Allen's work, Meade admires films like Crimes and Misdemeanors and lets caustic critics of works like Stardust Memories have their say. Though she recognizes that "the ubiquitous Greek chorus" of film critics still debate Allen's legacy, and that the filmmaker has indeed endured his scandals, Meade's pointed citation of Allen's ongoing rancor toward both his first wife and Farrow is what lingers in the reader's mind. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Throughout his career, Allen has maintained a hectic pace: writing screenplays, directing films, making occasional appearances in others' works, writing humor pieces and plays, and playing in a Manhattan Dixieland band. That he has time for a life, let alone an "unruly" one, is amazing. Meade, a novelist and biographer of Dorothy Parker and Buster Keaton, among others, unearths little that is new here. Instead, she paints a portrait quite similar to the one in John Baxter's recent Woody Allen: A Biography (LJ 10/15/99): Allen is obsessively private, aloof, and self-absorbed. Meade recounts the well-known facts of Allen's life, digresses with too many characters marginal to Allen's story, and, while she devotes a great deal of space to rehashing the Allen/Soon-Yi Previn fiasco, dedicates little space to some important individual films, such as Bananas and Sleeper. Though Allen emerges as far from likable, some readers may feel a grudging admiration for his refusal to play by Hollywood's rules. An optional choice for readers more interested in Allen's personal foibles than his professional achievements.--Stephen Rees, Levittown Regional Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Author's Notep. 9
Prologue: Grapes of Wrathp. 11
1 God and Carpetingp. 21
2 The Purple Rose of Midwoodp. 29
3 Stand-Upp. 45
4 What's New, Pussycat?p. 59
5 The "Coatcheck Girl"p. 79
6 The Medicip. 91
7 "A Picture About Me"p. 107
8 Vanity Fairp. 123
9 Beware of Young Girlsp. 139
10 Woody in Lovep. 151
11 Pushing the Baby Cartp. 165
12 Dead Sharksp. 183
13 Sidney Kugelmass Meets His Biographersp. 201
14 The Coiled Cobrap. 215
15 What the Heart Wantsp. 227
16 Dirty Laundryp. 241
17 Allen v. Farrowp. 253
18 Second Law of Thermodynamicsp. 267
19 The Cost of Running Amokp. 279
20 Getting Evenp. 297
21 "Help"p. 315
Epilogue: Victim of an Irregular Verbp. 323
Postscriptp. 329
The Career of Woody Allenp. 333
Notesp. 341
Acknowledgmentsp. 365
Indexp. 367