Woody Allen

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People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It's scary to think so much is out of one's control. There are moments in a match when the ball hits the top of the net and for a split second it can either go forward or fall back. With a little luck it goes forward and you win. Or maybe it doesn't and you lose.

Woody Allen (born Allen Stewart Königsberg on December 1, 1935) is an American film director, writer, musician, actor and comedian.

See also: Woody Allen films

Quotes[edit]

To you I'm an atheist; to God, I'm the Loyal Opposition.
Can we actually "know" the universe? My God, it's hard enough finding your way around in Chinatown.
  • I think crime pays. The hours are good, you meet a lot of interesting people, you travel a lot.
  • Allen: That's quite a lovely Jackson Pollock, isn't it?
    Woman: Yes, it is.
    Allen: What does it say to you?
    Woman: It restates the negativeness of the universe. The hideous lonely emptiness of existence. Nothingness. The predicament of man forced to live in a barren, godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void with nothing but waste, horror, and degradation, forming a useless, bleak straitjacket in a black, absurd cosmos.
    Allen: What are you doing Saturday night?
    Woman: Committing suicide.
    Allen: What about Friday night?
  • On bisexuality: It immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night.
    • The earliest source located is here, in the sidebar "Quotations According to Woody Allen" which appeared alongside the New York Times article "Everything You Wanted to Know About Woody Allen at 40" by Mel Gussow, 1 December 1975, page 33. Full text also available in Lakeland Ledger, 25 December 1975 on google news.
    • Unsourced variant: "Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night."
  • There have been times when I've thought of suicide but with my luck it'd probably be a temporary solution.
  • The difference between sex and death is, with death you can do it alone and nobody's going to make fun of you.
  • It figures you’ve got to hate yourself if you’ve got any integrity at all.
    • Quoted by Douglas Brode in Woody Allen – His Films and Career (1985).
  • I should stop ruining my life searching for answers I'm never gonna get, and just enjoy it while it lasts.
  • What a world. It could be so wonderful if it wasn't for certain people.
  • [The universe is] haphazard, morally neutral, and unimaginably violent.
  • Some guy hit my car fender the other day, and I said unto him, "Be fruitful and multiply." But not in those words.
    • The Woody Allen Companion (1993) edited by StephenJ. Spignesi, Ch. 7.
  • I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don't want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment.
    • The Illustrated Woody Allen Reader (1993)
    • The joke about immortality also appears in On Being Funny (1975)
    • In an interview in Rolling Stone magazine from April 9, 1987, Allen said "Someone once asked me if my dream was to live on in the hearts of people, and I said I would prefer to live on in my apartment."
  • How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?
    • As quoted in Love, Sex, Death & The Meaning of Life : The Films of Woody Allen (2001) by Foster Hirsch, p. 50.
  • We're worth a lot of dough. Whatever you see is antiques. This thing here. This is from — I don't remember exactly. I think it's the Renaissance or the Magna Carta or something. But that's where it's from.
  • As a filmmaker, I'm not interested in 9/11 [...] it's too small, history overwhelms it. The history of the world is like: He kills me, I kill him, only with different cosmetics and different castings. So in 2001, some fanatics killed some Americans, and now some Americans are killing some Iraqis. And in my childhood, some Nazis killed Jews. And now, some Jewish people and some Palestinians are killing each other. Political questions, if you go back thousands of years, are ephemeral, not important. History is the same thing over and over again.
  • I have no apprehension whatsoever. I've been through this so many times. And I found that one way or the other, your life doesn't change at all. Which is sad, in a way. Because the people love your film... nothing great happens. And people hate your film... nothing terrible happens. Many years ago, I would... I would... a film of mine would open, and it would get great reviews, and I would go down and look at the movie theater. There'd be a line around the block. And when a film is reviled, you open a film and people say "Oh, it's the stupidest thing, it's the worst movie." You think: oh, nobody's going to ever speak to you again. But, it doesn't happen. Nobody cares. You know, they read it and they say "Oh, they hated your film." You care, at the time. But they don't. Nobody else cares. They're not interested. They've got their own lives, and their own problems, and their own shadows on their lungs, and their x-rays. And, you know, they've got their own stuff they're dealing with.... So, I'm just never nervous about it.
  • I made the statement years ago which is often quoted that 80 percent of life is showing up. People used to always say to me that they wanted to write a play, they wanted to write a movie, they wanted to write a novel, and the couple of people that did it were 80 percent of the way to having something happen. All the other people struck out without ever getting that pack. They couldn’t do it, that’s why they don’t accomplish a thing, they don’t do the thing, so once you do it, if you actually write your film script, or write your novel, you are more than half way towards something good happening. So that I was say my biggest life lesson that has worked. All others have failed me.
  • To me there's no real difference between a fortune teller or a fortune cookie and any of the organized religions. They're all equally valid or invalid, really. And equally helpful.
  • This is my perspective and has always been my perspective on life: I have a very grim, pessimistic view of it. I always have, since I was a little boy. It hasn’t gotten worse with age or anything. I do feel that it’s a grim, painful, nightmarish, meaningless experience, and that the only way that you can be happy is if you tell yourself some lies and deceive yourself.
  • My relationship with death remains the same - I'm strongly against it,
    All I can do is wait for it,
  • You start to think, when you’re younger, how important everything is and how things have to go right—your job, your career, your life, your choices, and all of that. Then, after a while, you start to realise that – I’m talking the big picture here – eventually you die, and eventually the sun burns out and the earth is gone, and eventually all the stars and all the planets in the entire universe go, disappear, and nothing is left at all. Nothing – Shakespeare and Beethoven and Michelangelo gone. And you think to yourself that there’s a lot of noise and sound and fury – and where’s it going? It’s not going any place… Now, you can’t actually live your life like that, because if you do you just sit there and – why do anything? Why get up in the morning and do anything? So I think it’s the job of the artist to try and figure out why, given this terrible fact, you want to go on living.
  • The film studios learned to our dismay but to their pleasure that if they spent $200 million making a film they could make half a billion on it. So they were not interested anymore in quality films… They can’t afford to be that risky at those prices. Consequently you’re getting a lot of remakes, sequels, dopey comedies full of toilet jokes…

Getting Even (1971)[edit]

  • I don't believe in an afterlife, although I am bringing a change of underwear.
    • "Conversations with Helmholtz"

My Philosophy[edit]

  • Can we actually "know" the universe? My God, it's hard enough finding your way around in Chinatown.
  • It is impossible to experience one's own death objectively and still carry a tune.
  • Eternal nothingness is O.K. if you're dressed for it.
  • Not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber on weekends.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972)[edit]

  • Is sex dirty? Only if it's done right.
  • They called me mad... But it was I - yes I - who discovered the link between excessive masturbation and entry into politics!
  • When it comes to sex there are certain things that should always be left unknown, and with my luck, they probably will be.

Sleeper (1973)[edit]

Main article: Sleeper (1973 film)
  • My brain: it's my second favorite organ.
  • Oh, he was probably a member of the National Rifle Association. It was a group that helped criminals get guns so they could shoot citizens. It was a public service.
  • I'm not really the heroic type. I was beat up by Quakers.
  • Sex and death. Two things that come but once in my lifetime, but at least after death you're not nauseous.

Love and Death (1975)[edit]

To be happy is to love, to be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy, therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness — I hope you're getting this down.
Main article: Love and Death
  • To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But, then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer, to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love, to be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy, therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness — I hope you're getting this down.
  • Human beings are divided into mind and body. The mind embraces all the nobler aspirations, like poetry and philosophy, but the body has all the fun.
  • The important thing, I think, is not to be bitter. You know, if it turns out that there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. I think that the worst you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever.
  • "Sex without love is an empty experience. But as empty experiences go, it's one of the best."

Without Feathers (1975)[edit]

What if nothing exists and we're all in somebody's dream? Or what's worse, what if only that fat guy in the third row exists?
  • As the poet said, "Only God can make a tree"— probably because it's so hard to figure out how to get the bark on.
    • "The Early Essays".
  • Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.
    • "The Early Essays".
  • The chief problem about death, incidentally, is the fear that there may be no afterlife — a depressing thought, particularly for those who have bothered to shave. Also, there is the fear that there is an afterlife but no one will know where it's being held. On the plus side, death is one of the few things that can be done just as easily lying down.
    • "The Early Essays".
  • What a wonderful thing, to be conscious! I wonder what the people in New Jersey do.
    • "No Kaddish for Weinstein".
  • Thought: Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage.
    • "Selections from the Allen Notebooks".
  • What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet.
    • "Selections from the Allen Notebooks".
  • If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank.
    • "Selections from the Allen Notebooks".
  • It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens.
  • The lion and the calf shall lie down together but the calf won't get much sleep.
    • "Scrolls".
  • What if nothing exists and we're all in somebody's dream? Or what's worse, what if only that fat guy in the third row exists?
    • from the play "God".
  • Rabbi Raditz of Poland was a very short rabbi with a long beard, who was said to have inspired many pogroms with his sense of humor. One of his disciples asked, "Who did God like better, Moses or Abraham?"
    "Abraham," the Zaddik said.
    "But Moses led the Israelites to the Promised Land," said the disciple.
    "All right, so Moses," the Zaddik answered.
    • "Hassidic Tales, with A Guide to Their Interpretation by the Noted Scholar"

Annie Hall (1977)[edit]

Main article: Annie Hall
  • I heard that Commentary and Dissent had merged and formed Dysentery.
  • I can't get with any religion that advertises in Popular Mechanics.
  • I had dated a woman briefly in the Eisenhower administration, and it was ironic to me, because I was trying to do to her what Eisenhower had been doing to the country for the last 8 years.

Side Effects (1980)[edit]

  • It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off.
    • "The UFO Menace".
  • Interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is finite. This is a very comforting thought — particularly for people who can never remember where they have left things.
    • "The UFO Menace".
  • More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.
    • "My Speech to the Graduates"

My Apology[edit]

Woody Allen as Socrates...
  • Of all the famous men who ever lived, the one I would most like to have been was Socrates. Not just because he was a great thinker, because I have been known to have some reasonably profound insights myself, although mine invariably revolve around a Swedish airline stewardess and some handcuffs.
  • Death is a state of non-being. That which is not, does not exist. Therefore death does not exist. Only truth exists. Truth and beauty. Each is interchangeable, but are aspects of themselves. Er, what specifically did they say they had in mind for me?
  • Hey listen — I've proved a lot of things. That's how I pay my rent. Theories and little observations. A puckish remark now and then. Occasional maxims. It beats picking olives, but let's not get carried away.
  • Agathon: But all that talk about death being the same as sleep.
    Socrates: Yes, the difference is that when you're dead and somebody yells, "Everybody up, it's morning," it's very hard to find your slippers.

Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)[edit]

  • Taste my tuna casserole — tell me if I put in too much hot fudge.
  • What has gotten into you lately? Save a little craziness for menopause!
  • I bought her this handkerchief... and I didn't even know her size.
  • I can't listen to that much Wagner, ya know ? I start to get the urge to conquer Poland.

Don't Drink the Water (1994)[edit]

  • [about his daughter] I'd rather she grew up here than grew up as an orphan, you know I can tolerate anybody's orphans but my own.
  • ...years of insanity have made this guy crazy!

Deconstructing Harry (1997)[edit]

  • Harry: Between the Pope and air conditioning, I'd choose air conditioning.
  • Harry: You think the President of the United States wants to fuck every woman he meets?... Well, bad example.
  • Harry: The most beautiful words in the English language aren't "I love you" but "it's benign."
  • Harry: Every hooker I ever speak to tells me that it beats the hell out of waitressing. Waitressing's gotta be the worst fucking job in the world.
  • Cookie: What are you sad about?
    Harry: I'm spiritually bankrupt. I'm empty.
    Cookie: What do you mean?
    Harry: I'm frightened. I got no soul, you know what I mean? Let me put it this way: when I was younger it was less scary waiting for Lefty than it is waiting for Godot.
    Cookie: You lost me!
    Harry: You know that the universe is coming apart? You know about that? You know what a black hole is?
    Cookie: Yeah. That's how I make my living.
  • Burt: Do you care even about the Holocaust or do you think it never happened?
    Harry: Not only do I know that we lost six million, but the scary thing is that records are made to be broken.
  • Harry: No, I don't think you're paranoid. I think you're the opposite of paranoid. I think you walk around with the insane delusion that people like you.
  • Harry: Tradition is the illusion of permanence.
  • Harry: (On being called a self-hating Jew) Hey, I may hate myself, but not because I'm Jewish.
  • Doris: You have no values. With you it's all nihilism, cynicism, sarcasm, and orgasm.
    Harry: Hey, in France I could run for office with that slogan, and win!
  • The Devil: You want me to turn the air-conditioning on?
    Harry: You have air-conditioning in Hell?
    The Devil: Sure, it fucks up the ozone layer!
  • Harry: All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it.

Standup Comic (1999)[edit]

A CD compilation of Allen comedy routines from 1964-1968

  • A lot of things have happened in my private life recently that I thought we could review tonight.
  • I feel sex is a beautiful thing between two people. Between five, it's fantastic.
  • A fast word about oral contraception. I was involved in an extremely good example of oral contraception two weeks ago. I asked a girl to go to bed with me, she said "no."
  • Basically my wife was immature. I'd be at home in the bath and she'd come in and sink my boats.
  • I was in analysis. I was suicidal. As a matter of fact, I would have killed myself, but I was in analysis with a strict Freudian and if you kill yourself they make you pay for the sessions you miss.
  • I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam; I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me.
  • I tended to place my wife under a pedestal.
  • I'm not a drinker — my body will not tolerate spirits. I had two Martinis on New Year's Eve and I tried to hijack an elevator and fly it to Cuba.
  • When I was kidnapped, my parents snapped into action. They rented out my room.

Mere Anarchy (2007)[edit]

How could I not have known that there are little things the size of "Planck length" in the universe, which are a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimeter?
  • How could I not have known that there are little things the size of "Planck length" in the universe, which are a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimeter? Imagine if you dropped one in a dark theater how hard it would be to find.
  • And how does gravity work? And if it were to cease suddenly, would certain restaurants still require a jacket?
  • With that, he scribbled in an additional ninety thousand dollars on the estimate, which had waxed to the girth of the Talmud while rivaling it in possible interpretations.
  • I have also reviewed my own financial obligations, which have puffed up recently like a hammered thumb.
  • She quarreled with the nanny and accused her of brushing Misha's teeth sideways rather than up and down.
  • As we know, for centuries Rome regarded the Open Hot Turkey Sandwich as the height of licentiousness.
  • I was supremely confident my flair for atmosphere and characterization would sparkle alongside the numbing mulch ground out by studio hacks. Certainly the space atop my mantel might be better festooned by a gold statuette than by the plastic dipping bird that now bobbed there ad infinitum.
  • Bidnick gorges himself on Viagra, but the dosage makes him hallucinate and causes him to imagine he is Pliny the Elder.
  • To a man standing on the shore, time passes quicker than to a man on a boat — especially if the man on the boat is with his wife.

Attributed[edit]

  • I have learned one thing. As Woody says, "Showing up is 80 percent of life." Sometimes it’s easier to hide home in bed. I’ve done both. - 1977 August 21, New York Times, Section 2: Arts and Leisure, He’s Woody Allen’s Not-So-Silent Partner by Susan Braudy, Page 11 (ProQuest Page 83), New York.
  • Woody Allen later wrote in a letter: "My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book. In the midst of the conversation, as I’m now trying to recall, I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up." - 1989 August 13, New York Times, On Language: The Elysian Fields by William Safire.

Others[edit]

  • “I WANTED nothing more than to be a foreign filmmaker, but of course I was from Brooklyn, which was not a foreign country. Through a happy accident I wound up being a foreign filmmaker because I couldn’t raise money any other way.”
  • "You know, the whole American culture is going down the drain, you can't turn on a television set and see anything, or walk in the street and not find garbage, or neighborhoods that were formerly beautiful now have McDonald's in them, and it's all a part of an enormous degeneration of culture in the United States. People that exist in that culture are forced to make moral decisions all the time about their lives, their occupations, their love-lives, and they make decisions that are commensurate with what's happening to them in this culture, and it's too bad that that's happening because that's what Manhattan is about, that New York used to be such a great city, so wonderful, and it has to fight every day for its survival against the encroachment of all this terrible ugliness that is gradually overcoming all the big cities in America.
    This ugliness comes from a culture that has no spiritual center, a culture that has money and education, but no sense of being at peace with the world, no sense of purpose in life. They don't know what they're doing, or why they're here. They have no religious center, they have no philosophical center, and so they act, they do what's expedient at the moment. They have no long view of society. They only have the view of quick money, and kill the pain of the moment, and so instead of dealing with the real problems that exist, that are complicated, they sweep them under the rug by turning on the television set, or taking cocaine, or doing many things that enable them to escape confrontation with the unpleasant realities of the world."


Quotes about Allen[edit]

  • In this land of unlimited opportunity, a place where, to paraphrase Woody Allen, any man or woman can realize greatness as a patient or as a doctor, we have only one commercial American filmmaker who consistently speaks with his own voice. That is Woody Allen, gag writer, musician, humorist, philosopher, playwright, stand-up comic, film star, film writer and film director.
  • With the possible exception of What's Up, Tiger Lily (1966), the schlocky Japanese spy movie to which he attached his own, sidesplitting English soundtrack, no Woody Allen movie has ever been more or less serious than another of his works. He's always been serious. It's the audiences who have been frivolous.
    In Zelig he reassures us that he can still be funny and moving without making the sort of insistent filmic references in which he delights but which can be infuriating to others. Zelig is a nearly perfect — and perfectly original — Woody Allen comedy.

External links[edit]

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