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The Reluctant Film Art of Woody Allen$
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Peter J. Bailey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813167190

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813167190.001.0001

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Everyone Loves Her/His Illusions

Everyone Loves Her/His Illusions

The Purple Rose of Cairo and Shadows and Fog

Chapter:
(p.149) 11 Everyone Loves Her/His Illusions
Source:
The Reluctant Film Art of Woody Allen
Author(s):

Peter J. Bailey

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813167190.003.0011

These films are considered together in this chapter not only because they are two of Allen’s greatest cinematic accomplishments, but because they share so many elements in common—including their very hedged conclusions affirming the value of art. In Purple Rose, Cecilia’s Depression era infatuation with Hollywood movies provides her with the only consolation her grim working-class existence affords; Kleinman, the Kafkaesque protagonist of Shadows and Fog, escapes the murderous political atmosphere of his European town to sign on with the circus as assistant to the Great Irmstedt, the circus magician. Cecilia ultimately chooses the actor who plays Tom Baxter in Purple Rose rather than the character, since she concludes that she must side with reality over illusion; reality proves unreliable when the actor flees back to Hollywood, betraying all the romantic promises he had made to her. Kleinman’s commitment to magic (Allen’s favorite shorthand for art) is compromised when Irmstedt’s craft fails to capture the killer who has been terrorizing the town, a roustabout affirming that “everyone loves his illusions,” even though they are nothing but illusions that fail to alter the realities of the human condition.

Keywords:   “cheek to cheek”, Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers, artifice of cinematic resolution, Depression America, Jewel Theater, political factions, Franz Kafka, film noir, German Expressionism, Fritz Lang, M, Kaufman Astoria Studios

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