If you click on my About page you’ll see a list of my likes and dislikes, with Woody Allen films making the faves. A few times people have asked me why I support him when I’m a feminist, usually around the time he releases a new movie and his daughter publishes another reminder of how he abused her. I’m sad to say, it’s been easy for me to separate the man from the story, and just enjoy his films, especially as I (deep breath) don’t fully believe it’s true. I have no idea where I got this idea, of Mia Farrow being a liar, I must have read it when I was a kid somewhere, and it’s stuck with me that she’s not all there, I think is the polite way of saying… she’s batshit crazy. Years later someone told me that Mia had complained about her mother ruining her life by having too many children and never giving her attention, and wasn’t it weird that she then adopted loads of children? When I heard this story it immediately connected with that idea I had of her, and somehow made sense. When I saw the excellent documentary “The Kid Stays in the Picture” about a Hollywood film producer, he is scathing about Farrow, describing her as ruthless and manipulating in her control of her then husband Frank Sinatra. What? How was one of the most powerful men in Hollywood controlled by a little twenty-something woman? She must have mad manipulation skills. Again, I felt like I didn’t trust her. Weird, when I don’t know her.
I remember the scandal of Woody Allen having supposedly molested their daughter, Dylan, and how it just seemed to die out and everyone carried on watching his films and giving him awards. Annie Hall is amazing, but the other 1970’s films from Allen’s ‘golden period’ I’m so-so about. His best works, for me, are from the 90’s. When La La Land came out people were saying how brilliant it was to have a classic Hollywood musical again. It’s not a good film, a five out of ten at best (maybe a six with that ending). If you want some old school realness check out Everyone Says I love You (top picture) which captures musicals of yesteryear brilliantly, and has Ed Norton and Drew Barrymore being the most adorable couple ever. It also features Natalie Portman and Julia Roberts, every Woody Allen film in the 90’s had the biggest stars. I really like the short, funny stories in Deconstructing Harry, especially Robin Williams who plays a man literally blurry whilst everyone around him is in normal focus. Mighty Aphrodite, Bullets Over Broadway, Sweet and Lowdown, all brilliant, and into the early 2000’s I liked Melinda and Melinda, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, and Hollywood Ending in which Allen himself stars as a director who goes blind but with the help of an intern tricks his cast into thinking he can see (hmm, some kind of allegory?). I grew up watching these films, and have fond memories of them, I even like The Purple Rose of Cairo from the 80’s starring Mia-before-the-troubles-Farrow. I remember my grandmother telling me she really liked it, and she hardly liked any films – it’s such a sweet story about a film character falling in love with a woman who keeps coming to the cinema to see his film, and he leaps out of the screen to be with her.
It’s no wonder actors queue up to work with Allen. His stories are original in a sea of repetitive Hollywood nonsense, and he writes well for women – they are often nominated for Oscars for his films. But now people are demanding Allen is boycotted as part of the #MeToo #TimesUp movements to speak out about abuse and let men know their time is up with getting away with it. Journalist Bob Weide has written extensively about the case Mia launched against Woody in the 90’s, and a lot of it aligns with my anti-Mia feeling, so I suppose I’ve found it easy to swallow. He explains that Woody was never charged or convicted with anything, the accusations never made it to court – there was a court case, but that was over custody as Woody had serious concerns about the children’s safety with Mia (he lost). Woody claimed Mia was after revenge because he’d started a relationship with her adopted daughter Soon Yi, even though she’d broken up with Allen and they hadn’t lived together in years. The police and child psychologists were suspicious of how Mia kept changing her story, and that she chose to go shopping the day of the alleged attack on Dylan, when she had been briefing adults who worked in the house that Woody couldn’t be trusted. It’s not likely a parent would do that, unless they were setting up a story. Woody claimed she had threatened him with something that would destroy him, and he said “are you going to kill me?” She replied it would be worse, and it has been – knowing that this kind of thing sticks, and was going to stick harder to a man already a bit obsessed with younger girls in some of his films, and who the press had mistakenly said was marrying his adopted daughter (Soon Yi is Andre Previn’s adopted daughter). Allen has evidence that Mia asked him for film work years after the case, and she also spoke in defence of certified Hollywood nonce Roman Polanski when there was talk of him being extradited to America in the 2000’s, which doesn’t make sense at all.
Recently, Woody and Mia’s adopted son, Moses, now nearly forty and with a family of his own, has disowned his mother and spoken out in defence of Woody, after years of siding with Mia and not talking to his dad. He said he’d had flashbacks of his childhood, remembering Mia coaching Dylan what to say to the police, and her beating all her children numerous times in anger. He is sure the whole thing was for made up for revenge against Allen, which backs up Weide’s theories, and connects to Mia’s portrayal in The Kid Stays in the Picture. Today on Twitter, after Oprah’s epic Golden Globes speech, people were laying in to Greta Gerber for not denouncing Allen when asked if she regretted working with him. Maybe she doesn’t, maybe her and other actors believe all this revenge stuff. Or maybe they believe Dylan and selfishly care more about their own careers. The jury might be out on Allen, but Polanski admitted to raping a thirteen year old girl, so I don’t know why Jodie Foster and others choose to work with him, so weird… but that’s showbiz, eh. (This recent article on why actors choose to work with Roman Polanski when he’s not sorry about drugging and raping a child is tough reading).
I’m getting tired of defending Allen, I don’t know him either. Maybe I’ve been easily led by stories about Mia that aren’t true, and they’ve only stuck with me because I heard them as a child and have grown up hearing them? Is it ever right to say with any degree of certainty that I don’t believe an abuse victim? It’s astonishing that I even doubt Dylan. I might erase him from my About page, though I’d be a hypocrite because I’d probably still watch and recommend his movies. There’s no doubt he’s weird – he could have dated anyone, instead he dated a very young woman who had been raised by his ex. Lots of men do things like that, though, it’s creepy and not right, but he didn’t deserve a smear campaign of that magnitude. I still believe this scandal is the only way Mia can stay relevant, though she can’t seem to get any work. Maybe that’s Hollywood sexism at its finest, support the man, blacklist the woman. Or maybe people got wind of how nuts she is. The real victim here is Dylan, whatever’s happened she’s definitely been abused by one or other of her parents, and that’s abominable. One day she might have a frightening recall like Moses experienced, and it would be horrific for her to realise she’s been her mother’s puppet all along. In Weide’s defence he says he doesn’t think we should ignore Dylan or claim she’s a liar, she’s believes her truth, and she’s definitely a victim who deserves to be heard. I wish her all the happiness in the world, she deserves that too. I do, however, object to her brother, Ronan, jumping on the #MeToo movement and using it to try and smear his father’s name. That’s not what it’s about, shame on him and Mia.
What do you make of it all?