Woody Allen Amuses Himself by Giving Untruthful Answers in Unaired 1971 TV Interview

Celebri­ties tire of giv­ing inter­views. I’ve learned this by spend­ing most of my career con­duct­ing inter­views myself, and thus des­per­ate­ly try­ing to mas­ter ask­ing the ques­tions that wake up a weary inter­vie­wee, get­ting them engaged enough to cast aside the boil­er­plate and speak like a con­vers­ing human being. But what about the celebri­ties them­selves? What can they do to spice up their expe­ri­ence? In 1971, the oft-inter­viewed Woody Allen sat down with Grana­da Tele­vi­sion and took a bold move to keep things inter­est­ing, appar­ent­ly chal­leng­ing him­self to reply to each ques­tion as untruth­ful­ly as pos­si­ble. Though the con­ver­sa­tion nev­er aired, Allen did man­age to keep up the rou­tine for quite some time, and you can watch near­ly forty min­utes of it in the clip above.

The inter­view­er asks Allen for a syn­op­sis of his new pic­ture. “It’s a dra­ma about human emo­tion in the Unit­ed States,” the direc­tor flat­ly replies. “It deals with the tragedy of divorce as it relates to the chil­dren and those who have to suf­fer con­tin­u­al­ly from the effects of an unhap­py home.” So it con­tains no com­e­dy what­so­ev­er, then? “No, I try and keep as much com­e­dy out of my films as pos­si­ble.” The film osten­si­bly under dis­cus­sion: Bananas. Asked ques­tion after broad, brief ques­tion, Allen lobs back ever dri­er and more implau­si­ble fab­ri­ca­tions. His ded­i­cat­ed fans, though, will notice that he does slip in a fac­tu­al state­ment. Asked if he watch­es his own films, he says no; and indeed, he famous­ly nev­er looks back at past work. The increas­ing­ly ner­vous-sound­ing inter­view­er (who may be in on the joke?) asks why. “Because I don’t have the patience to sit through them.”

h/t @lit_hum

Relat­ed con­tent:

Woody Allen Answers 12 Uncon­ven­tion­al Ques­tions He Has Nev­er Been Asked Before

Meetin’ WA: Jean-Luc Godard Meets Woody Allen in 26 Minute Film

Woody Allen Lives the “Deli­cious Life” in Ear­ly-80s Japan­ese Com­mer­cials

Woody Allen Box­es a Kan­ga­roo, 1966

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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Comments (9)
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  • Jeff says:

    Great inter­view. Real­ly fun­ny. Is there any chance that we can watch the unaired “Har­vey Wallinger Sto­ry”… Out of the Paley Cen­ter in NYC, I was nev­er able to see it.

  • John Gutierrez says:

    Dear Lord, that’s as hard as I’ve laughed in a long time! Just a ter­rif­ic inter­view. Bra­vo to Woody for nev­er break­ing char­ac­ter.

  • Joe says:

    The word genius is overused, but not here.

  • Alibrando says:

    I can almost see the con­ver­sa­tion in his head think­ing “How dumb is this inter­view­er?” I think Woody Allen is intel­lec­tu­al­ly chal­lenged by how amaz­ing­ly this inter­view­er keeps ask­ing him incred­i­bly lame ques­tions with­out any sign of real­iz­ing Woody Allen is not seri­ous so it turns into a marathon sar­casm that is incred­i­ble. Lots of laughs.

  • Wesley says:

    This is real­ly great to watch, but how can any of you think the inter­view­er is NOT in on this, when at 12.13 he breaks out laugh­ing and asks to take a break.

  • Daedalus says:

    The inter­view­er is not in on it, but there’s no way in all of hades the inter­view­er did­n’t get what was going on after ten sec­onds of that inter­view­er. Because he’s very, very good at what he does, he’s rolling with it.

  • Walter says:

    Bril­liant! After the inter­view­er asks for a break at 12:13, you can clear­ly see Woody break char­ac­ter.

  • Lawrence Bayne says:

    Ali­bran­do, I fer­vent­ly hope you are being sar­cas­tic from start to end of your con­tri­bu­tion.

  • Mr LaJavanaise says:

    The inter­view­er in this clip is actu­al­ly John­nie Hamp, the pro­duc­er of ‘Cin­e­ma’ who also pro­duced ‘The Woody Allen Show’ on British TV in ’65. He has giv­en an exclu­sive inter­view to come­di­an Matt Rop­er reveal­ing the back­ground to this ses­sion: http://www.cinemasauce.com/all-about-woody

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