Summer 2003 • Vol. XXV No. 3/4 NonfictionJuly 1, 2003 |

The Catskills Reinvented (And Redeemed): Woody Allen’s “Broadway Danny Rose”

Woody Allen, most especially in his early films, but extending through the middle period of his career (from Annie Hall in 1977 to Crimes and Misdemeanors in 1989), fashioned a persona built upon what Vivian Gornick labeled a "rich and potent outsider's anxiety," combining it with a wild, risky inventiveness that also defined his own generation of comics such as Mort Sahl, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, and Lenny Bruce ("Face It" 9). Like his predecessors, he created comic foils, objects of ridicule, to act out a sense of deprivation and humiliation he felt at being Jewish, and thus his work embodies an anger and hostility (usually expressed in the form of passive-aggressiveness), as well as a self-mocking view of Jewishness, often associated with the Borscht Belt comedians. Yet, interestingly, the one film among the thirty or so he has made that actually envisions a harmonious community (rather than the loneliness of the isolated spiritual seeker) is based on his memories of the Cats

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