Woody Allen’s Typewriter, Scissors and Stapler: The Great Filmmaker Shows Us How He Writes

Here’s a fas­ci­nat­ing lit­tle win­dow into the work­ing habits of one our most bril­liant and pro­lif­ic artists. It’s from Robert B. Wei­de’s 2011 PBS film Woody Allen: A Doc­u­men­tary. In the scene above, Allen shows us the machine he has used for six­ty years, the only type­writer he has ever owned: an ear­ly fifties man­u­al Olympia SM‑3. “I bought this when I was six­teen,” Allen says. “It still works like a tank.”

Every com­e­dy sketch, every screen­play, every essay ever writ­ten by Allen was com­posed on the one type­writer. When Wei­de asks Allen how he man­ages with­out the “cut-and-paste” func­tions of a word proces­sor, he pulls out a pair of scis­sors and an old Swing­line sta­pler. “It’s very prim­i­tive, I know,” says Allen, “but it works very well for me.”

“Allen’s per­sis­tence in using the one and only type­writer of his life, and in prac­tic­ing cut-and-sta­ple edit­ing are cer­tain­ly curi­ous, quaint, idio­syn­crat­ic, even endear­ing,” writes Richard Brody in the Front Row blog at The New York­er; “but they’re also proof on the wing of two of Allen’s life­long qualities–untimeliness and hermeticism–as well as of the endur­ing strug­gle in his films between writ­ing and expe­ri­ence.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Woody Allen Answers 12 Uncon­ven­tion­al Ques­tions

Woody Allen Box­es a Kan­ga­roo, 1967

Woody Allen Talks With the Reverand Bil­ly Gra­ham

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