When Diane Keaton recently sang the praises of Woody Allen and referred to all the actresses whom he wrote great roles for as Woody's Girls, I secretly thought... was I, too, possibly a Woody gal, albeit a much lesser one? Or was it just the effect of watching too many award shows, and the unseasonably terrific L.A. weather?
I adore Woody's latest film Blue Jasmine. I watched it on the plane and then showed it to my aunt's caregiver who really related to the economic disparity aspects of the story. And of course, Cate Blanchett was divine. And scary. Especially for those of us who too often imagine ourselves babbling away in Tompkins's Square Park about what could have been, as we take a break from collecting old soda pop cans for resale.
Reviews I've read said that Woody was not conscious of making a political film, but merely telling a story of one woman's plight. Well, his strong unconscious must be at work despite his denials. When Alec Baldwin's character, Hal (here comes the SPOILER) announces he's leaving Cate Blanchett's Jasmine for a teen-age au pair, I gulped -- art reflecting life? Does Baldwin's character suffer for his love choice the way Woody has not had to? His marriage to Mia Farrow's adopted daughter has proved successful. And in the eyes of his critics, is he now redeemed by writing a tragic end for Alec?
My Woody-time was on Crimes and Misdemeanors playing a girl who was part of a documentary film crew following Alan Alda's character around. I was on the set many days, and took wonderful photos of Mia and the baby Satchel, who is now called Ronan. I surprised Mia by telling her I had seen her perform beautifully in a play called Mary Rose by J.M. Barrie, while I was studying in Manchester. She barely remembered she had done the play, and amazed that an American had seen it.
Not having read the script of Crimes, I was unaware that there was a secondary story about Woody Allen's character making a film about a philosopher, Levy , who commits suicide. At the time, I was working on a film about Abbie Hoffman. When Crimes was released, Abbie had committed suicide, and I too had to look at footage of someone who was no longer alive.
These coincidences are interesting. But are they enough to make me a true Woody gal -- Class B? In the scene where Woody's character interviews Alan Alda about comedy, Woody directs me to fix Mr. Alda's hair. Being petite, it was a leap I had to make to reach the top of Alan Alda's head, and each time I jumped, I desperately wanted to improvise, saying things like: "Sorry, just covering up that bald spot."
In the years that passed, I re-thought that lost moment over and over. I reprimanded myself for being so shy, and afraid to add to Mr. Allen's directions, which were clearly MOS. But why couldn't I have pulled a Gloldblum moment? The first time the world sees Jeff Goldblum, he's picking up a phone in Annie Hall and says: "What's my mantra?" Brilliant. My friend Joe, upon hearing my regrets, once suggested I should have asked for an apple box to climb on, thereby not only making a joke of my height, but demonstrating my in-depth knowledge of film props.
Still, the top of my head made the cut along with my left hand. Perhaps a new category will be created this year for the Oscars: Body Parts. Appendages will flank the stage, waving and thanking their appreciation to the obstetrician that pulled them out of the mother, and the kindly editor that left them in the picture.