Friday, July 11, 2008

Woody's Roundup

OK, so Cover Riddle #6 was dependent on being able to identify all the people in the pictures. Let's see...

  • Brent Spiner as Data in Star Trek
  • Paul Simon guest hosting Saturday Night Live
  • Kirsten Dunst in the title role of Marie Antoinette
  • Wallace Shawn as the voice of Rex in Toy Story
  • Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct
  • director Todd Field (In the Bedroom, Little Children) in Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut
  • Itzhak Perlman, famed violinist
  • Zach Braff on Scrubs
  • Lewis Black, actor/comedian
  • Lisa Marie in Mars Attacks!
  • David Blaine, um, "magician"
  • Sigourney Weaver in Aliens

    And what do they all have in common? They all made their feature film debut in a Woody Allen film!

    Maybe I'm just a nut for trivia, but I think that's remarkable. Let's go through that list again:
  • Brent Spiner as "Fan in Lobby" (Stardust Memories, 1980)
  • Paul Simon as "Tony Lacey" (Annie Hall, 1977)
  • Kirsten Dunst as "Lisa's Daughter", uncredited (New York Stories, 1989)
  • Wallace Shawn as "Jeremiah" (Manhattan, 1979)
  • Sharon Stone as "Pretty Girl on Train" (Stardust Memories, 1979)
  • Todd Field as "Crooner" (Radio Days, 1987)
  • Itzhak Perlman as Himself (Everyone Says I Love You, 1996)
  • Zach Braff as "Nick Lipton" (Manhattan Murder Mystery, 1993)
  • Lewis Black as "Paul" (Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986)
  • Lisa Marie as "Office Xmas Party Guest" (Alice, 1990)
  • David Blaine as "Spectator", uncredited (Celebrity, 1998)
  • Sigourney Weaver as "Alvy's Date Outside Theatre" (Annie Hall, 1977)

    This is based on the sometimes dubious IMDb listings, but it's accurate enough for our purposes. There are even a few more notable names that were close calls, just one or two minor credits off a Woody Allen debut: Jennifer Garner, Sylvester Stallone, Danny Devito, and Adrien Brody (who debuted in New York Stories, but technically in the segment directed by Francis Ford Coppola).

    Again, thanks to those who participated and congrats to reader Mimi who was the only one to get it right. From the Fong Songs prize bucket, she received a 2-disc cover compilation from the UK chock full of covery goodness. Onto the cover songs!

    Anita Kerr - What's New Pussycat? [originally performed by Tom Jones]
    What's New Pussycat? (1965), starring Peter Sellers and Peter O'Toole, was Woody Allen's feature film debut both as an actor and writer. The song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the film was also nominated for an Oscar that year.

    Built to Spill - Take the Money and Run [originally by Steve Miller Band]
    Run DMC - Take the Money and Run (Feat. Everlast) [originally by Steve Miller Band]
    Technically Woody Allen's directorial debut was the 1966 film What's Up, Tiger Lily?, a comically re-dubbed version of a Japanese action movie. His first "proper" directorial effort was 1969's Take the Money and Run.

    Annie Hall - Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go [originally by Wham!]
    While Diane Keaton covering Wham! in character may be an intriguing if completely bizarre prospect, this is simply an Italian band called Annie Hall (damn!). Just a note for aspiring artists: naming your band after a popular movie does not do you any favours in the Google department. I did manage to find their myspace page, though clearly the "anniehall" myspace address was taken and they had to settle for "unclepig". This isn't a particularly audacious claim to make, but not only is this my favourite Woody Allen film, but one of my favourite films of all-time, period.

    Edward Norton - Just You, Just Me [originally written by Jesse Greer & Raymond Klages]
    Woody Allen's first and only musical (I think), Everyone Says I Love You features several unlikely actors breaking into big music numbers including Edward Norton in an early role, here backed by the Helen Miles Singers on the jazz standard Just You, Just Me. Written by Jesse Greer & Raymond Klages, the song debuted in the 1929 MGM musical, Marianne. Frequent Woody Allen collaborator, Dick Hyman also performed a version of the same song in Hannah & Her Sisters.

    Dick Hyman & Mike Lipskin - 'Deed I Do [originally by Walter Hirsch and Fred Rose]
    Dick Hyman - Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da [originally by The Beatles]
    As an old school New York City jazz man, Dick Hyman made a perfect fit for Woody Allen's musical sensibilities. He has served in various roles as composer, arranger, conductor, and pianist for Stardust Memories, Zelig, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Broadway Danny Rose, Hannah and Her Sisters, Radio Days, Bullets Over Broadway, Mighty Aphrodite, Everyone Says I Love You, Sweet and Lowdown, The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion, and Melinda and Melinda. His only on-screen credit is as "Band Leader" in The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. I first discovered Hyman when I stumbled upon the stunning Stride Piano Summit album at the library, which the 'Deed I Do cover is from. As I later became a Woody Allen enthusiast, I was pleasantly surprised to find Dick Hyman's name repeatedly gracing the opening credits. That Beatles cover is from an electronic album Dick Hyman did in the late 60's (think: Moog synthesizer).

    Incidentally, the writing credits on popular jazz standards is the first big hole in wikipedia's compendium of knowledge that I've come across. Spoiled by the google/wiki one-two punch, it's strange to have to dig a little deeper and find the right combination of google keywords just to find the original composers for these songs that have been recorded hundreds of times. And it's not like these are traditional folk songs of lost origin either... I mean, even those have extensive wiki entries.

    Woody Allen and His New Orleans Jazz Band - After You've Gone [originally by Turner Layton]
    If it wasn't apparent from the soundtracks to his films, which often feature predominantly jazz scores, Woody Allen is a jazz enthusiast. In fact, he supposedly took his stage name (his birth name was Allan Konigsberg) from clarinetist Woody Herman. Allen himself is a clarinetist with his own band that plays dixieland jazz. The 1996 film Wild Man Blues documented Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band on a European tour and, as far as I know, he still plays weekly in New York. That is, of course, when he's not filming. Just a couple weeks ago, Allen and his band played two shows at the Montréal Jazz Festival for the first time, after previous invitations conflicted with his filming schedule. First recorded by Marion Harris in 1918, After You've Gone is my all time favourite standard, so I was happy to find Woody and his band perform this on the Wild Man Blues soundtrack.

  • 1 comment:

    Andrew Ryan said...

    I should have got that, but I didn't. The reason I should have got it is that I managed to notice something similar regarding the cast of the movie Antz. Woody Allen starts, of course, but consider who else is in it: Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Christopher Walken. Now although Walken had acted before Annie Hall, I think you can see that all three actors got their first significant roles in other Allen movies.