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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A collection of brilliant films - some out of print otherwise.
This collection is currently the only way to get new region 1 copies of some of Allen's greatest and most important films, including 'Annie Hall', 'Stardust Memories', 'Interiors', 'Bananas' and others. I can only hope that these films are going out of print in anticipation of an upgraded re-release (hopefully blu-ray?), but there's always the danger that they've gotten...
Published on April 14 2011 by K. Gordon

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3.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic movies - come on MGM! Utilize the DVD format!
I could go through my blow by blow account of each of these wonderful movies but I won't. If you're not a huge fan of Woody you won't buy this set it's that simple. If you love Annine Hall and Bananas but don't recognize some of the less popular titles, I'd recommend a trip to the video store before [buying] on the set. Stardust Memories seems to be his inspired...
Published on June 21 2000


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A collection of brilliant films - some out of print otherwise., April 14 2011
By 
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Woody Allen Collection, Set 1 (Annie Hall/Manhattan/Sleeper/Bananas/Interiors/Stardust Memories/Love and Death/Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask) (DVD)
This collection is currently the only way to get new region 1 copies of some of Allen's greatest and most important films, including 'Annie Hall', 'Stardust Memories', 'Interiors', 'Bananas' and others. I can only hope that these films are going out of print in anticipation of an upgraded re-release (hopefully blu-ray?), but there's always the danger that they've gotten caught up in some sort of rights war, in which case this it could be a while before these films reappear, and grabbing this set now makes even more sense.

My brief reviews of each, on a 4 star scale;

Bananas (1971) ***1/2 Incredibly funny, broad, slapstick, surreal political satire as Woody takes over a Latin American country to impress a girl. A few bits feel dated, and it didn't make me laugh quite as much as 'Take the Money and Run' when I recently re-watched Allen's 'early funny films', but it still has more than it's share of great comic moments. The whole trial sequence is genius worthy of the very best of the Marx Brothers. (Or, in a more modern context Monty Python). Personally I don't love the score -- it tends to underline jokes that don't need the help. It was after this that Allen went away from having music written for his films, using existing pieces instead, which became a huge part of his filmmaking style.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (1972) *** While all the early Woody Allen films are funny and worthwhile, this is probably the most uneven to my taste. Allen took the famous, serious non-fiction book about sex, and turned it into a series of short comedy pieces. A couple segments are pure genius (inside the male body during sex, Gene Wilder falling in love with a sheep), a couple are pretty good (Woody as a medieval court jester trying to have an affair with the queen, who is locked into a chastity belt, a mad scientist creates a giant milk squirting breast that goes on a rampage) and a few are real duds. Also, of all the Allen films, this might have the weakest DVD print/transfer quality.

Sleeper (1973) ***3/4 While all of Allen's early comedies are pretty wonderful, this film represents a big leap in technical proficiency. For the first time you sense him really thinking about how the camera is telling the story. And in finding Diane Keaton, Allen was finally paired with an actress who's comedic strengths were a great match for his. This film relies less on verbal jokes (although there are brilliant lines) and more on visual gags. It almost feels like you're watching a great silent comedy at times. Better music too, with jazz taking over from traditional score the first time in Allen's films. A funny, inventive, sophisticated if sometimes wonderfully silly comedy, with almost no dead moments. For me it represents the beginning of the shift from Allen as a brilliantly funny writer and comic who happened to make films, to becoming one of our very best filmmakers.

Love and Death (1975) **** I'm not surprised this was rumored to be Allen's favorite film. I'd say it's the best of his flat out comedies. All the strengths he was gathering as a filmmaker came together in this brilliant satire of (among other things) 19th century Russian literature, war, epic films about war, Ingmar Bergman, etc. etc. It's very very smart, and very very funny. An amazing mix of sophisticated intellectual verbal comedy, parody, low and high-brow visual gags (from speeded up film of bopping a character repeatedly over the head with a bottle, to homages to great images from early Russian films) , terrific cinematography, and some real ideas, both political and philosophical. Diane Keaton is wonderful, and fully comes into her own as Allen's on screen equal partner. And the look of the film shows the deep visual sophistication that would become a hallmark of the next phase of Allen's career; Annie Hall, Manhattan, etc. With this film Allen completed his journey from brilliant joke teller to brilliant director-writer. It would be his next film, Annie Hall, that would make the world realize he was a world class filmmaker. But you can see the all groundwork laid here, and have a lot of fun in the process.

Annie Hall (1977)**** Quite simply one of the best films about romantic relationships ever made. Brilliantly written. Brilliantly acted -- Diane Keaton is tremendous, the supporting cast is full of gems and Allen himself takes the leap to present himself as a real (if funny) human being and not a walking joke. And brilliantly
photographed by the great Gordon Willis of 'The Godfather' and many of most important films of the 70s and 80s. Wildly funny and ultimately heartbreaking. It's hard to imagine anyone who has ever been in love, or struggled through grown-up relationships NOT identifying with a lot of this film. I loved it in my late teens when it first came out, and I love it even more 32 years later. Every time I see it I notice different details, depending on my own current life experiences. A film of enormous wit, humor, invention, and understanding of the human heart. Its completely unique, playful and idiosyncratic in style and approach, but that experimentation somehow only makes it more accessible and universal. If you haven't seen it, you owe yourself a try, even if you're not a Woody Allen 'fan'. And if you saw it long ago, it may be time for another look.

Interiors (1978) ***1/4 A totally serious, almost theatrical examination of the meltdown of a rich, WASPy family might seem worlds away from anything Allen's earlier films prepared us for, but for the most part he's very up to the task, creating a gallery of disturbing and unforgettable moments and characters. Yes, it's derivative of Bergman, but it's also pretty damn good. Beautifully photographed by Gordon Willis, with amazing performances (Geraldine Page, Mary Beth Hurt, Maureen Stapleton in particular are brilliant, but everyone is good). The script does border on cliché at moments, and some specific dialogue is clunky, but there's something deeply moving and hard to shake in it's overall final effect. Under appreciated in its time, it's faults now seem very forgivable, and there's excitement in watching a great filmmaker stretch his talent in a new direction.

Manhattan (1979) ***3/4 One of the most stunningly beautiful to look at films of the last 50 years, made with great wit, and full of strong observations about loss, aging, and how we lie to ourselves. Still, it doesn't quite rise to the level of `Annie Hall' for me in terms of timelessness or emotional impact. A film I really, really like, respect, see why others have it on their '10 best of all time' lists, etc. but feel guilty that I can't flat out love. Somehow all the adult characters' self-obsessed narcissism keeps me at arms length. I identify with moments, but -- unlike Annie Hall - not the whole. That said, it's strengths are so strong, and it has affected so many so deeply that I would say its a film any film lover owes themselves the chance to see. If nothing else, Gordon Willis' photography will leave you with images you'll never forget.

Stardust Memories (1980)**** II know -- I'm supposed to like 'Manhattan' more. I know -- this straddles the line between homage and rip-off when it comes to
Fellini... But it's so physically beautiful, and so full of unforgettable moments of humor and heartbreak, that I can watch it over and over and just see more and more in it. It's an odd, wonderful mix of sad, angry, surreal and very funny. It's a chilling, hysterical look at the emptiness of being famous, at what it means to not trust your own worth as an artist, what it means to be scared of happiness. The jump cut sequence with Charlotte Rampling is one of the best, most incisive pieces of film-making I've ever seen. Period. For me, it's a tragically underrated film. This is brave, unique, special film-making in a world with far too little.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "They do nothing but give awards", June 23 2001
By 
Holy Olio "holy_olio" (Grand Rapids, MI USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Woody Allen Collection, Set 1 (Annie Hall/Manhattan/Sleeper/Bananas/Interiors/Stardust Memories/Love and Death/Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask) (DVD)
__________________
Annie Hall is one of the best films of the 1970s, in some ways it defined them. Woody outdid himself, and yet it really was just the first of his "real" movies. Without this one, well, never mind, I can't bear to contemplate that. This is often rated as one of the best American movies ever made. I'd like to warn you that it has no chase scenes or shootouts, no hostages get taken, no wrongly-convicted criminals try to break out of jail, and no one says "excellent" or high-fives. It's just a good film. If you don't have an ounce of heart or have a poor ability to remember premarital affairs, you may not like it. Otherwise you will.
Manhattan - Not only one of Woody Allen's best movies, one of the best movies, period. While Annie Hall is a great movie, the development of Allen's talent between AH and Manhattan is startling. The chemistry of the cast is a factor in its success. The humor is smoothly integrated into the dialogue and not distracting. The scenes are well acted, shot, and edited. It's a love story in which the only mature participant is a 17 year old.
Interiors - Not much music in the soundtrack, which contributes to the somber feel of this film. Despite some of the critical rejection of it, and despite the Bergman influence, this is one of his finest. I remember seeing this reviewed by Gene Shalit who was nearly speechless (not much of a change, since he was doing those 30 second reviews for Today back then) and in awe. The performances were natural and believable, and the cast were well chosen. This film may appear derivative, but I found it to be innovative and original, and couldn't take my eyes off it, despite the deliberate drabness.
Stardust Memories is one of Woody's most underrated films, stronger than any of his "early, funny ones" and is very cohesive, particularly with repeated viewings. The gags have more impact because most of the movie is stress and strain. There's a jail scene (a common element in Woody's films - off the top of my head, there are at least four other movies with some form of confinement), three different breakups, and its flashbacks anticipates the recent "Deconstructing Harry". Stardust Memories was in part a kiss-off to critics of "Interiors". It's shot in black and white, has a great cast and performances, has unexplained props (like a cervical collar), Laraine Newman (first cast of SNL), Brent Spiner (Commander Data in ST:TNG), and the most graceful integration of Woody's childhood memories. This is a movie best experienced more than once -- another thing it has in common with "Deconstructing Harry".
Love and Death is one that I've only seen once, and it didn't make much of an impact on me. A friend of mine considers this the best of Woody's funny movies, and he's the one who loaned it to me. I found it a little too gag-filled, although I must admit that I fell asleep a few times.
Sleeper is a more sophisticated version of Bananas. Although it also gets preachy, it looks better on the screen, has better gags, and superficially is a great send-up of science fiction of all kinds. I love the bit about health food.
Bananas is poorly shot, preachy, and not too funny, which is odd because it's one of the "early, funny ones". I know people who mistakenly think of this as his finest work. [...]
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask is one of his classic funny ones, but having seen it I don't see anything much to recommend it. The gags look like things he based on his stage act that may have been daring during the Bitter End years. [...]
Now that we know what is in the second Woody box, the main question to ask is "why?" This first box set is a far better deal, and the selections in the second box mostly mystify fans, buffs, and critics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every one a gem, May 29 2001
This review is from: The Woody Allen Collection, Set 1 (Annie Hall/Manhattan/Sleeper/Bananas/Interiors/Stardust Memories/Love and Death/Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask) (DVD)
Every film in this collection is a gem. Annie Hall and Manhattan are both top notch, followed by Bananas, Everything you wanted to Know about Sex, Sleeper...heck, even Interiors was such a radical departure its worth seeing at least once or twice. But to me the real diamonds in the rough of this set are Stardust Memories and Love and Death. These two films are probably Woody's least talked about, but really, I think they are both fantastic films. Love and Death is full of the witty one liners and pratfalls that were prevelant in his "earlier, funnier" works... but you can see in the dialogue of Love and Death that Woody was maturing. And Stardust Memories, my favorite Woody film. This film says so much for anyone who fancies themselves an "artist" who is trying to figure out what they want to say...and how to say it. Maybe my one beef is the lack of extras on these DVD's... but for the money, you can't beat the price of this set.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy collection of the director's work, Jan. 25 2001
By 
Norman Landsburg (Chapel Hill, NC United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Woody Allen Collection, Set 1 (Annie Hall/Manhattan/Sleeper/Bananas/Interiors/Stardust Memories/Love and Death/Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask) (DVD)
Just about anybody can enjoy a Woody Allen movie; it simply requires all your attention and intellect while viewing it. This collection shows Allen as a comedy director (Bananas, Sleeper) and his transition to deeper, more bittersweet films (Annie Hall, Manhattan). An excellent job by MGM, though Annie Hall is the only non-anamorphic title in the bunch. I look forward to more Woody Allen film collections on DVD in the future.
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4.0 out of 5 stars For those interested in learning the MIND of Woody Allen, Dec 9 2001
By 
Puck Mackie (Japan) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Woody Allen Collection, Set 1 (Annie Hall/Manhattan/Sleeper/Bananas/Interiors/Stardust Memories/Love and Death/Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask) (DVD)
Every movie in this collection will leave you in deep thought one way or the other long after you view them. This is the sort of collection you can own and view multiple times without tiring of the plots, and there's always something new to get out of the stories each time you see them. "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan" are more prominent and famous over the others because there are more moments where you can laugh and enjoy the characters.
"Interiors" is not a film to be viewed for uplifting entertainment, but you can still appreciate it for its unique perceptiveness into a wealthy New York family's misery. It's serious movies like this one where you can delve into the artist's mind and pick apart his brain, enjoy the neurotic journey, and later you will be able to see reoccuring themes and motifs appear in his later works. What makes "Interiors" special is that it captures the essence of a family's life that rarely any other author or filmaker would bother to examine. Through this movie you can step outside yourself and feel the raw anguish and bitter remorse of all old maids around the world, and even still have the desire to sock them in the kisser. However i must warn this movie is for people seriously interested in examining human character and family dynamics. This doesn't follow a climax/ happy ending standard.
"Everything you always wanted to know about sex But were afraid to ask" is a fun film, and one of his earliest. There are a few weak and dull moments, but there are other episodes that make it all worthwhile. Right before you want to let out a big yawn you'll choke with laughter till you cry. It's inspiring to see how much Woody Allen has accomplished since.
All in all, this collection is the most diverse in mood compared to the other collections. From silly slapstick humor to neurotic-relationship drama, and the bleak and miserable... This pack carries a sample of Woody Allen's every style.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent addition to a well-rounded DVD collection., July 8 2000
By 
Rene (Connecticut USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Woody Allen Collection, Set 1 (Annie Hall/Manhattan/Sleeper/Bananas/Interiors/Stardust Memories/Love and Death/Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask) (DVD)
There are several reasons to buy this collection of earlier Woody Allen films. First, it's an excellent buy and an easy way to add substance to your DVD collection. More importantly, it gives you an opportunity to own several movies you will enjoy watching again and again.
Following the films chronologically you see Allen's progression from slapstick comedy to more character-driven humor. One is not better than the other, but the humor in later films, like Manhattan, is more subtle and sophisticated. Some would argue that Allen's best movies, including Hannah and Her Sisters, were made after the films compiled here. And, they may be right. But, you see here the evolution of an artist and the seed for those films. For Woody Allen fans and lovers of New York, these earlier films are required viewing.
There is something to be said for each of the films in the collection. And, full reviews of each film are available elsewhere. However, one thing that is consistently enjoyable in all of the films is the quality of the performances given. The best example is what a joy it is to watch Diane Keaton in each of the films in which she appears. She is a wonderful actor. And, for people like me who aren't big fans of Mia Farrow, this collection is "Mia free."
It is hard for me to imagine who wouldn't enjoy most if not all of the movies here. And, with the low per-film cost, there is little risk in owning them all. I look forward to a compilation in the future that includes Radio Days, Hannah and Her Sisters, Broadway Danny Rose and Mighty Aphrodite. In the mean time, I am glad to own these eight films.
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5.0 out of 5 stars In Response to the Below Review, July 2 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Woody Allen Collection, Set 1 (Annie Hall/Manhattan/Sleeper/Bananas/Interiors/Stardust Memories/Love and Death/Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask) (DVD)
This is in response to the below review which states that there are "No extras, no remastered sound or video, no trailers even!"
I happen to have this set, which I seriously doubt this person does, and I am very pleased with this collection. Every disk in the set does indeed have the original trailer for the movie. And with the exception of Annie Hall, all the movies have anamorphic widescreen transfers. The movies look beautiful, especially when you consider they're over 20 years old (some almost 30). The sound is presented the way is was originally recorded; seriously, do we really need a DTS soundtrack for a Woody Allen movie? And you can't blame MGM because there are no extra features; Woody Allen has stated that he wants his movies to speak for themselves, and he feels that extra features would take away from that so he does not want them included. Also, each disk does come with a 2-page booklet that lists some interesting facts about the movie.
Overall I think this is a great collection, and if your a Woody Allen fan you should definitely pick this one up.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic movies - come on MGM! Utilize the DVD format!, June 21 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Woody Allen Collection, Set 1 (Annie Hall/Manhattan/Sleeper/Bananas/Interiors/Stardust Memories/Love and Death/Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask) (DVD)
I could go through my blow by blow account of each of these wonderful movies but I won't. If you're not a huge fan of Woody you won't buy this set it's that simple. If you love Annine Hall and Bananas but don't recognize some of the less popular titles, I'd recommend a trip to the video store before [buying] on the set. Stardust Memories seems to be his inspired response to all the fans who wanted him to make the "funny, earlier movies." Just a word of warning. If you're a viewer who wants to see the earlier,funnier films, Interiors, Stardust Memories, and possibly Manhattan may disappoint.
My big problem with this set is the fact that MGM seems to be ignoring the benefits of the DVD format. I own most of these films on video and, except for a widescreen display of these movies, this appears to be the same presentation!
No extras, no remastered sound or video, no trailers even!
MGM/UA: This is a set that is clearly for the collector and really big fan. Go the extra mile!
Having said all that, of course I'll buy the set. I'm just disappointed. If you don't consider yourself a major fan - I'd recommend buying the VHS version or buying the titles you know and love already on DVD.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Woody fans (like me) will scream in ecstasy, June 21 2000
This review is from: The Woody Allen Collection, Set 1 (Annie Hall/Manhattan/Sleeper/Bananas/Interiors/Stardust Memories/Love and Death/Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask) (DVD)
Eight Woody-Allen-films in one DVD-collection. This is clearly a must for all collectors of great film classics. The included pictures should especially attract fans of his "earlier, funnier" work.
Most of the films on the DVD's were made in the 70's and most of them are pure comedies. "Bananas", "Sleeper" or "Love and Death" are among the funniest work by the director. It's unnecessary to say more words about the masterpieces "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan". Their place in the film history books is certain. Another film of the collection is the underrated "Interiors", which might not be funny, but a well observed, subtle, bergmanesque drama. "Stardust Memories" was also treated in an inappropriately hostile way when it was released.
I already said in my reviews of "Annie Hall" and "Deconstructing Harry", that I consider Woody Allen as one of the funniest, wittiest and finest filmmakers. It's really a pity that his latest films are all struggling to find an audience. I recently found out that his last film "Small Time Crooks" (which I haven't seen yet) succeeds to draw in customers. Maybe this is the beginning of his commercial comeback. Artisticly, he rarely let me down.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best of the best of the early Woody Allen!, May 21 2000
By 
Marc-David Jacobs (Portland, Oregon, United States of America) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Woody Allen Collection, Set 1 (Annie Hall/Manhattan/Sleeper/Bananas/Interiors/Stardust Memories/Love and Death/Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask) (DVD)
Naturally, since I'm writing this review about a month and a half before this boxed set is released, I cannot possible base this on the actual DVDs. Hell, I don't even own a player! Hah, this review is a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. If you remember that line, then I guarantee that you will love this set! These are the first eight movies that Allen directed (not counting What's Up, Tiger Lily?, which he has since called a mistake and Take The Money And Run, which is already available on DVD) and starts with his 1971 slapstick comedy Bananas (from whence comes that earlier reference for those of you struggling to remember). It moves on through 1972's Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid To Ask); 1973's sci-fi, Keaton- (Buster, not Diane) inspired masterpiece Sleeper; the last of his purely slapstick comedies, the albsolutely wonderful Love And Death from 1975. It then moves on to his more intellectual and move acclaimed Annie Hall from 1977 (the only one of these already available in the DVD format); his 1978 Bergmanesque drama Interiors; the 1979's lovingly made black-and-white Manhattan and finishing with 1980's Stardust Memories. I have loved all of these movies, but have hesistated to buy them until they came out on the (from what I've heard) superior DVD format. And, now they have (and, of course, for the technologically stable, it's on VHS, too!) For anyone who ever loved Woody Allen's films, books or even his plays, I can personally guarantee that you will not be let down by these films.
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