Thursday, February 11, 2016

Woody Allen Snark Attacks Warren Beatty

When is a snark attack not gossip, but film history? Consider Woody Allen's "Shouts and Murmurs" casual in this week's New Yorker satirizing the sexcapades of Warren Beatty, once Allen's rival for the affections of Diane Keaton, and also the movie star who got the nebbishy stand-up comedian his first screenwriting gig.

Woody Allen Snark Attacks Warren Beatty

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Woody Allen lightly skewers Warren Beatty, to whom he owes his movie career, in this week´s New Yorker satire.
Woody Allen lightly skewers Warren Beatty, to whom he owes his movie career, in this week's New Yorker satire.

When is a snark attack not gossip, but film history? Consider Woody Allen's "Shouts and Murmurs" casual in this week's New Yorker satirizing the sexcapades of Warren Beatty, once Allen's rival for the affections of Diane Keaton, and also the movie star who got the nebbishy stand-up comedian his first screenwriting gig.

Back in the day -- that would be 1963 -- when Beatty was Hollywood 's Next Big Thing and Allen was working the beatnik crowd at the Bitter End,  the movie prince got the joker hired to doctor the screenplay for a sex comedy about a compulsive Don Juan not unlike Beatty himself. At the time, Beatty's pickup line was "What's new, pussycat?" -- which of course became the title of the film that ultimately starred Peter O'Toole (in the Beatty role) and introduced Allen, who both scripted and was a supporting player. 'Twas an era when one of the more successful jokes in Allen's act was his wistful confession, "I want to be reincarnated as Warren Beatty's fingers."

On the scale of Allen's recent output, this piece where he describes Beatty as "a virtuoso of the percales" is not quite as pointed as Vicky Cristina Barcelona but is considerably funnier than Scoop and Whatever Works. As Flickgrrl imagined how Allen's Beatty satire might play as a movie, her thoughts turned lightly to other satires of star misbehavior and she thought of her pet backstage satire, My Favorite Year (1982) with O'Toole (him again!) as a swashbuckling, skirtchasing Hollywood god (inspired by Errol Flynn), mortified that on live television he can't play his scene over and over until he gets it right. "I'm not an actor!" he tells his handlers. "I'm a star!"

Your favorite gossip-inspired movie?

Film Critic
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Consider our Movies blog your essential guide to new movies and classics, interviews with filmmakers and stars, news and views on the latest screen trends, reviews and the occasional rant.

Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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