Posted Oct 28 2015

Directors' Shorts - Woody Allen - Men Of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story

 In 1972, Woody Allen did his best to ensure Richard Nixon wouldn’t get re-elected by contributing this short film to PBS television, only to have the film dropped from broadcast due to pressure from the Nixon administration. It has hardly been seen since.

By the time of Men Of Crisis, Allen had already made two full features as director (three if you count his re-edited What’s Up Tiger Lily?) This short most closely resembles his debut, 1969’s Take The Money and Run, in its mock documentary style and use of crime-doc voice over, this time from actor Reed Hadley. It also however foreshadows Allen’s later turn in The Front, with his on screen participation in the House Un-American Activities Committee here, and also sees him playing with the notion of intercutting himself and others into historical footage and events, something that would come to fruition years later in his ground breaking Zelig.

Louise Lasser, the then Mrs. Allen, who had just co-starred with him in Bananas makes an appearance, as does a young Diane Keaton, this short marking her first onscreen appearance with Allen.

More than anything, it’s very, very funny and a rare chance to see Allen at his gag-writing finest, tackling both the short form and political satire. A definite “lost” gem.


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