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August 03, 2009


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Nicely put, Glenn. For a pretty fascinating first-hand account of the latter part of Krim's years at UA and then at Orion, check out Mike Medavoy's for-some-reason-little-read memoir YOU'RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR NEXT ONE. Not as essential as FINAL CUT, but a very engaging read nevertheless.

Ryan Kelly

Steven Spielberg once said something very telling on this subject, that I think speaks to the 'revolving door' concept you talk about. When asked why he worked for so many different studios, his answer was "Because it's harder to hit a moving target". I think if the world's most financially successful director has to have that kind of mentality, then all less successful than him (which, in that field, would be everybody else) must deal with unfathomable worlds of shit.

But well said, the comparison between Allen and Apatow; two incredibly different directors working under extremely different conditions, with wholly different aims, is so frivolous that 'frivolous' doesn't quite sum it up.

Ryland Walker Knight

Yeah, and you didn't even get into how the movies talk to each other. --I don't think there's much of a conversation, really, besides the obvious, um, heritage particulars.

Tony Dayoub

If anything, Funny People bears more of a resemblance to James L. Brooks' work at its messiest.


Woody's comedies were not "blockbusters" but were all certainly substantitive hits, especially SLEEPER. His films cost little so the return was heftier.


If Allen built up capital for anything, it wasn't Annie Hall, it was Interiors. Up until Annie Hall his films pulled about $20 million during their runs (a respectable figure for a big comedy), and then Annie Hall doubled that. The next year Interiors cut it in half, making $10 million, and flip flopped for the rest of his career between financial successes making the typical "Woody Allen movie," that is, new york relationship films, and other more diverse films. Hell, even the film he shot twice, September, only took in under a million dollars in its entire run. It's about now you consider how inconsequential these figures are of course. Allen's made a film a year for over 40 years, and he's never had the success Apatow has financially. A key distinction between Apatow and Allen is that Apatow is foremost a producer, and is incapable, I believe, of making a film that doesn't interest audiences. Even his "flop" Walk Hard, took in more than a lot of comedies. I think the Brooks comparisons are more apt, and if you've seen both Annie Hall and Funny People, you'd have to be an idiot to think they're anything alike as films. But I guess to work at Vanity "Celebrity Death Whores" Fair, you might just have to be that idiot.


@Ryan Kelly

I'll avoid name-dropping because it's tacky, but I've had a chance to see several "name" directors speak courtesy of my school, and Spielberg isn't the only one with that mentality. Listening to what very experienced and successful directors have to say about dealing with executives is flat-out depressing and explains, frankly, why most movies suck. Most memorably, one speaker said that most executives he deals with are functionally ignorant of film history and usually don't even like movies or TV. They're just in it because TV is a "popular product".


There's a wonderful anecdote on the commentary for Criterion's release of Days of Heaven(paraphrasing from memory here) where someone says that then Paramount owner and Gulf + Wsstern CEO Charles Bluhdorn saw a cut of the film and was extremely impressed. Apparently he later approached Malick and said (something to the effect of) "I don't care if you make a penny, you can do whatever you want here".

It's hard to imagine anything like that happening in the movie industry today, no matter how much capital you have.


For all his corporate background, Charles Bludhorn actually loved movies. He gave Leone carte blanche on OUATITW as well.

The Siren

Always very glad to see someone correcting the record on a matter of film history. And The 40-Year-Old Virgin is very cute but if Apatow is the next Woody Allen I just don't want to live anymore.

Final Cut is an excellent book and my copy wound up with an ex-boyfriend. I lost more good books that way. And CDs too. The boyfriends on the other hand...I digress. Anyway, my favorite part of the book is toward the end, when Martin Scorsese is screening "Raging Bull" for a roomful of suits. The credits roll and everyone is silent -- not even applause -- and then Andy Albeck gets up, shakes Scorsese's hand and says, "Mr Scorsese, you are an artist." And leaves.


Great stuff, Glenn


Glenn - really enjoyed this post. Interesting side note of which I'm reasonably confident you're aware:

Apatow has apparently signed a three-movie deal with Universal. From what I've heard, he'll be writing and directing all three. Interesting...


I love Woody Allen, but does anyone here think he's made a worse movie than September? I remember the scene where Sam Waterston was caught kissing Dianne Wiest and he explains it to a hurt Mia Farrow "I want her to come with me to New York... (looking at Wiest and remembers something) or Paris?". That was hilarious.

Dan Coyle

It hurts me, it HURTS me that anyone would dare compare Apatow, at this stage of his career and development as a writer, to the Woody Allen of Annie Hall.


Great corrective, Glenn...it really provides perspective.

Frankly, I think the more film artistry can be separated from the industry apparatus the better, but maybe that's just me. There was a time when it worked wonders but that time is long past.


Richard Brody also had an interesting response to this:

"Above all, Allen is an intellectual, and Apatow isn’t. Allen’s references to Kierkegaard and Dostoyevsky have no place in Apatow’s comic world; imagine the “Seventh Seal” spin Allen would have put on Apatow’s Swedish doctor (and imagine the dick jokes Apatow would have gotten out of Wallace Shawn’s “homunculus,” from “Manhattan”). The interests and inclinations of intellectuals are put in a favorable light by their reflection—and commercial validation—in Allen-land. It’s as if the Oscar had been won by the whole Upper West Side. Whereas Apatow, who went from Syosset to Los Angeles seemingly without absorbing much of the cultural authority of the slender island in between, brings to bear on his work and his worldview a moralism similar to Allen’s but without the overtly intellectual justifications. And I think that many critics are made uneasy by Apatow’s separation of moral seriousness from explicit intellectual references. Of course, the best classic Hollywood movie directors did the same thing—and, until the French New Wave came along to show Americans what they were missing, many of those directors’ best films took their lumps from most critics here too."

As I said there, I like Apatow, but if he's today's Woody Allen that says quite a bit about "today" doesn't it?


(And no, I don't quite think that's Brody's point but to me it seems inevitable...)

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