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A Brief Guide to Woody Allen’s Favorite Things

Like every good neurotic, obsessive, or perfectionist (and sometimes all of the above), director Woody Allen is a lover of lists. Over the span of his career, the iconic filmmaker has shared his likes, dislikes, and absolute favorites of just about everything that highlights his eclectic tastes. In honor of his birthday, we’ve collected some of those lists — and they deserve a bookmark in your browser for eternal reference.

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Favorite books

Woody Allen’s films are littered with cultural references, including a number of literary influences — as his 1975 film Love and Death demonstrates, with never-ending nods to Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. When speaking with Five Books last year, the filmmaker discussed the titles that have stuck with him throughout his lifetime:

Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger

Catcher in the Rye has always had special meaning for me because I read it when I was young — 18 or so. It resonated with my fantasies about Manhattan, the Upper East Side, and New York City in general.”

Really the Blues, Mezz Mezzrow

“The story, while probably just a lot of junk, was compelling for me because it was about many musicians whose work I knew and admired and the ins and outs of jazz joints that I knew about and the legendary songs that were played in the legendary nightclubs. So I had a great time reading it when my own jazz passion was forming. But I know it’s not a very good or even a very honest book.”

The World of S. J. Perelman, S. J. Perelman

“The funniest human being in my lifetime, in any medium — whether it’s stand-up, television, theater, prose, or movies — is S. J. Perelman. There is nobody funnier than S.J. Perelman.”

Epitaph of a Small Winner, Machado de Assis

“I was shocked by how charming and amusing it was. I couldn’t believe he lived as long ago as he did. You would’ve thought he wrote it yesterday. It’s so modern and so amusing. It’s a very, very original piece of work.”

Richard Schickel’s biography of Elia Kazan

“It’s the best show business book that I’ve read. It’s brilliantly written and it’s about a brilliant director who was very meaningful to me when I was growing up and becoming a filmmaker.”

Read the full interview.

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