When I was in high school back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the teen heartthrob pictures taped inside the lockers of my classmates at dear old St. Catharine Academy in the Bronx included John Travolta, Parker Stevenson, Shaun Cassidy, and other cute lads one might find on the cover of Tiger Beat and the like. But I was always drawn to the so-called offbeat types, like Dustin Hoffman and writer/director Woody Allen, as well as Danny Kaye and Bob Hope in their 1940s movie comedies on WPIX or WOR. If I recall correctly, my sister Cara graduated from Lehman High School in 1976 at a ceremony at Manhattan’s own Carnegie Hall. Afterward, our family went to The Russian Tea Room for a celebratory lunch, all of us dressed to the proverbial nines. I was stunned to see Woody Allen and Dick Cavett standing together in front of us, chatting and waiting for their table! My combination of shyness and politeness kept me from running up to them and blathering like a fangirl. Frankly, I was perfectly content to stand on line quietly with my family, peeking at Allen out of the corner of my eye while munching on jelly-filled mints. However, Mom noticed Allen, too, and although she was never one to go up to celebrities and gush, she knew I was a big Woody Allen fan. As I believe I’ve mentioned in previous TotED posts, my dear beloved Mom was kind and as lovely as the fashion model she used to be—and about as shy as a speeding Mack truck, bless her! (She claimed to have been shy as a youngster, but she obviously got over it by the time I was born!) So I was both embarrassed and excited when Mom strode up to Allen and said in her enthusiastic way, “Mr. Allen, my daughter just loves your movies, and I knew she’d be thrilled if you’d say hello to her.” Allen had a deer-in-the-headlights look (can’t blame him, really; for all he knew, we could’ve been stalkers, or at least pests), while Cavett smirked and said, “Oh, here we go.” Mom gave Cavett a sort of elegant version of The Hairy Eyeball as she said to him, “I wasn’t talking to you, sir.” Then she turned to Allen and said, “It wasn’t so long ago that you were a movie fan like my daughter. How would you feel if someone you admired was rude and dismissive to you?” Looking both chastened and somewhat bewildered, Allen shook my hand, and I thanked him, and then our respective parties went our separate ways in the restaurant for lunch. Ah, if only Mom had lived to see our much more upbeat encounter in 2010 with our favorite Oscar-winner, Adrien Brody! (For those who didn't read this over at our friend and fellow blogger Clara Fercovic's Via Margutta 51 blog, here's the link: http://via-51.blogspot.com/2011/09/if-i-had-to-keep-4-guest-dorian.html)
|Woody Allen schlepped here. (So did our family!)|
|Is Ted hoping to make out on this stakeout?|
|At Cafe des Artistes, Marcia knows when to hold ‘em, but does Larry know when to fold ‘em?|
|“I’ll pretend I’m a pair of comfortable old shoes until the coast is clear.”|
|Will our heroes push up daisies in The Garden State?|
As Nick and Nora, er, Larry and Carol dash around scenic parts of Manhattan and New Jersey trying to find clues without getting themselves murdered, the cowardly if practical Larry keeps kvetching and Carol keeps grumbling about how “Ted would know what to do…” It’s a delightful tip of the hat to Allen and Keaton’s 1973 classic Sleeper and its President’s Nose/“Emo would know what to do” gag! Just thinking about the comparison had me laughing even more than I already was! More affectionate salutes to classic movies abound, including the Vertigo ad on a crosstown bus, where Carol is sure she’s just seen the allegedly dead Mrs. House looking very much alive at the moment; and the big finale with our beleaguered couple and villain caught in a funny yet suspenseful send-up of Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai in Mr. House’s revival theater. Larry gasps, “I’ll never say life doesn’t imitate art again!”
As Larry Lipton, Allen gives himself most of the best lines as he quips and dithers his way through their adventures, and why not? After all, who can say Woody Allen’s dialogue better than the man himself? Play to your strengths, I always say! Some of his best MMM lines:
On the emotions Wagnerian opera brings out in Larry: “…I always feel like invading Poland.”
On how Carol’s been dwelling on sinister things since she decided to play amateur detective : “You should wear happy glasses.”
Stunned to discover that a key player in the mystery plot is dead, and after they’d brought her a gift and everything: “She’s dead? Try giving her the present!”
Begging Carol to get rid of her fixation on the case and her jealousy of Marcia: “There’s nothing wrong with you that couldn’t be cured with Prozac and a polo mallet.”
|Looking for Maxwell House, Carol finds Mrs. House!|
|That’s not the kind of helping hand our heroes need!|
|Is that pride skeptical Larry is swallowing there in the elevator?|
|Eye contact is crucial when you’re catching killers!|
|Uh-oh! This wasn't the kind of movie-date night our heroes had in mind!|
|Life imitates art with the Mrs. Dalton gang!|
But overall, MMM is Woody Allen Light—Light-Hearted, that is! Don’t take my word for it, watch this charming last scene (or don’t, if you’d rather be surprised):
|“…And the punchline is, ‘Would you believe I’m waiting for a train?’”|
Special photo treat from our pal and fab fellow blogger Caftan Woman!
Her sister Maureen got to meet Woody Allen in person!
Her sister Maureen got to meet Woody Allen in person!
“…And the punchline is, ‘Would you believe I’m waiting for a train?’”