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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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PRINTED FROM KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The University Press of Kentucky, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in KSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

Allen and His Audience

Allen and His Audience

Sweet and Lowdown

(p.277) 20 Allen and His Audience
The Reluctant Film Art of Woody Allen

Peter J. Bailey

University Press of Kentucky

Allen’s highly ambivalent attitude toward his audience is compared in this chapter with jazz guitarist Emmet Ray’s egocentric stance toward the “jerks” who pay his salary in the joints in which he performs on jazz guitar. He constantly insists that he’s “a very great artist,” as Allen never would, and his dedication to art is precisely what alienates him from his audience. “I let my feelings come out in my music” is his explanation of his life/art dichotomy, but the movie clearly suggests that he feels only in his music and has no real empathy for those who listen to it, and little more for those who care for him. Ray isn’t Woody Allen, though they have in common the Modernist tenet of art’s lack of accountability to its audience. The difference is that Allen can make a thoroughly moving film about Ray’s failure to acknowledge the humanity of his audience. It may be that this light, genial, lovely film more affectingly and movingly epitomizes Allen’s profoundly conflicted dedication to art than many of his more celebrated and serious movies.

Keywords:   Adam Gopnick, Django Reinhardt, Zhao Fei, Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night, Howard Arlen, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”, “Unfaithful Woman”

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