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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