New York Magazine has a long and rather excellent article on Woody Allen, Larry David, their upcoming comedy "Whatever Works," and the death (or dying nature) of their breed of Jewish comedy.
It's a rather engaging feature. However, more interesting to us is the fact that it reveals a detail about "Whatever Works" that we — and presumably many others — didn't know: Allen's 40th movie as a writer/director is actually a script left lying around from his '70s heyday.
"Remember the Woody Allen of the seventies, the guy who several generations of New Yorkers decided was the comedic poet laureate of their era of the city? The man with whom they had a great first date (1973’s Sleeper) that deepened into a full-on relationship (1977’s Annie Hall) and then further enriched itself into true love (1979’s Manhattan), because we always fall in love with the one who makes us laugh? Whatever Works is, in essence, the missing movie from that period—the film that would have rounded out the New York phase of Allen’s early career if only he had made it."Apparently it was originally written for Jewish American actor and Zero Mostel, who died the year "Annie Hall," came out so then Allen scrapped it. And Allen updated it for Larry David, but apparently very slightly.
Also, David, who had never really worked with Allen aside from two small appearances in "New York Stories" and "Radio Days," — when he first received the script and offer, kind of freaked out when he realized he was being offered the lead role.
“I opened this script up,” says David, “and there’s Boris [the main character] all over page one. I turned to page 50, and there’s Boris. I went to the last page and saw that Boris had a big speech. And I thought, I need to tell him I can’t do this, really. I called and said, ‘I think you’re under the wrong impression about my acting from the show, because it’s all improvised, and it’s all in my wheelhouse. I haven’t really played a character before.’ ”Allen told him to chill, encouraged him to improvise and told him not to worry (David memorized the script regardless). Back to "Whatever Works" being a long lost script from the '70s. Does that mean it's a classic in the waiting? Reviews from Tribeca were decent but weren't exactly glowing (or at least from what we saw) and folks like Movieline are calling his excavation of the script, "recycling" (but yes, they always write with playful cheekiness).
Hmm, well, it's good enough for us to give it a shot. Despite some claims that "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" was overrated, we (mostly) loved it, so we'll keep our fingers crossed from more Allen magic. "Whatever Works" opens up in theaters on June 19 in limited release.
PS, we went to go see Woody Allen's jazz band (Woody Allen & The Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band) at the Carlyle here in New York earlier this year and much to our delight, John Doumanian, the "coke fiend" from "Annie Hall" was in attendance. That was pretty great.