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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 June 2010
Most of Woody Allen's great early films are here (the only exception being 'Take the Money and Run', his very first, which is absent for some reason). This is a wonderful 'starter' set for anyone curious about Allen, and a must have for any fan who doesn't already have all the titles seperately.

My brief comments on the films (on a 4 star scale)

Bananas (1971)***1/2 Incredibly funny, broad, slapstick, surreal political satire as Woody takes over a Latin American country to impress a girl. A few bits feel dated, and it didn't make me laugh quite as much as 'Take the Money and Run' when I recently re-watched Allen's 'early funny films', but it still has more than it's share of great comic moments. The whole trial sequence is genius worthy of the very best of the Marx Brothers. (Or, in a more modern context Monty Python) Personally I don't love the score -- it tends to underline jokes that don't need the help. It was after this that Allen went away from having music written for his films, using existing pieces instead, which became a huge part of his filmmaking style.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (1972) *** While all the early Woody Allen films are funny and worthwhile, this is probably the most uneven to my taste. Allen took the famous, serious non-fiction book about sex, and turned it into a series of short comedy pieces. A couple segments are pure genius (inside the male body during sex, Gene Wilder falling in love with a sheep), a couple are pretty good (Woody as a medieval court jester trying to have an affair with the queen, who is locked into a chastity belt, a mad scientist creates a giant milk squirting breast that goes on a rampage) and a few are real duds. Also, of all the Allen films, this might have the weakest DVD print/transfer quality.

Sleeper (1973) ***3/4 While all of Allen's early comedies are pretty wonderful, this film represents a big leap in technical proficiency. For the first time you sense him really thinking about how the camera is telling the story. And in finding Diane Keaton, Allen was finally paired with an actress who's comedic strengths were a great match for his. This film relies less on verbal jokes (although there are brilliant lines) and more on visual gags. It almost feels like you're watching a great silent comedy at times. Better music too, with jazz taking over from traditional score the first time in Allen's films. A funny, inventive, sophisticated if sometimes wonderfully silly comedy, with almost no dead moments. For me it represents the beginning of the shift from Allen as a brilliantly funny writer and comic who happened to make films, to becoming one of our very best filmmakers.

Love and Death (1975) **** I'm not surprised this was rumored to be Allen's favorite film. I'd say it's the best of his flat out comedies. All the strengths he was gathering as a filmmaker came together in this brilliant satire of (among other things) 19th century Russian literature, war, epic films about war, Ingmar Bergman, etc. etc. It's very very smart, and very very funny. An amazing mix of sophisticated intellectual verbal comedy, parody, low and high-brow visual gags (from speeded up film of bopping a character repeatedly over the head with a bottle, to homages to great images from early Russian films) , terrific cinematography, and some real ideas, both political and philosophical. Diane Keaton is wonderful, and fully comes into her own as Allen's on screen equal partner. And the look of the film shows the deep visual sophistication that would become a hallmark of the next phase of Allen's career; Annie Hall, Manhattan, etc. With this film Allen completed his journey from brilliant joke teller to brilliant director-writer. It would be his next film, Annie Hall, that would make the world realize he was a world class filmmaker. But you can see the all groundwork laid here, and have a lot of fun in the process.

Annie Hall (1977)**** Quite simply one of the best films about romantic relationships ever made. Brilliantly written. Brilliantly acted -- Diane Keaton is tremendous, the supporting cast is full of gems and Allen himself takes the leap to present himself as a real (if funny) human being and not a walking joke. And brilliantly photographed by the great Gordon Willis of 'The Godfather' and many of most important films of the 70s and 80s. Wildly funny and ultimately heartbreaking. It's hard to imagine anyone who has ever been in love, or struggled through grown-up relationships NOT identifying with a lot of this film. I loved it in my late teens when it first came out, and I love it even more 32 years later. Every time I see it I notice different details, depending on my own current life experiences. A film of enormous wit, humor, invention, and understanding of the human heart. Its completely unique, playful and idiosyncratic in style and approach, but that experimentation somehow only makes it more accessible and universal. If you haven't seen it, you owe yourself a try, even if you're not a Woody Allen 'fan'. And if you saw it long ago, it may be time for another look.

Manhattan (1979) ***3/4 One of the most stunningly beautiful to look at films of the last 50 years, made with great wit, and full of strong observations about loss, aging, and how we lie to ourselves. Still, it doesn't quite rise to the level of `Annie Hall' for me in terms of timelessness or emotional impact. A film I really, really like, respect, see why others have it on their '10 best of all time' lists, etc. but feel guilty that I can't flat out love. Somehow all the adult characters' self-obsessed narcissism keeps me at arms length. I identify with moments, but -- unlike Annie Hall - not the whole. That said, it's strengths are so strong, and it has affected so many so deeply that I would say its a film any film lover owes themselves the chance to see. If nothing else, Gordon Willis' photography will leave you with images you'll never forget.
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on 23 October 2009
Woody Allen Col. Vol.1 Box Set:

This box set comes with nice packaging includes 6 discs and a 4-page booklet. Discs are taken from the current individiual releases, so we do not get any new extras for movies , there are just original trailers for each movies. Highly recommended box set for all Woody Allen fans.

Audio And Subtitle Information:
-------------------
Annie Hall
Audio:English,French,German,Italian,Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Subtitles: Danish, Dutch, English, English HoH, Finnish, French, German, German HoH, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish
Aspect Ratio:1.85:1

-------------------
Bananas

Audio:English,French,German,Italian,Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Subtitles: Danish, Dutch, English, English HoH, Finnish, French, German, German HoH, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish
Aspect Ratio:1.85:1

-------------------
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask

Audio:English,French,German,Italian,Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Subtitles: Danish, Dutch, English, English HoH, Finnish, French, German, German HoH, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish
Aspect Ratio:1.85:1

-------------------
Love And Death
Audio:English,French,German,Italian,Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Subtitles: Danish, Dutch, English, English HoH, Finnish, French, German, German HoH, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish
Aspect Ratio:1.85:1

-------------------
Manhattan
Audio:English,French,German,Italian,Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Subtitles: Danish, Dutch, English, English HoH, Finnish, French, German, German HoH, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish
Aspect Ratio:2.35:1

-------------------
Sleeper
Audio:English,French,German,Italian,Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Subtitles: Danish, Dutch, English, English HoH, Finnish, French, German, German HoH, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish
Aspect Ratio:1.85:1

-------------
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on 15 October 2010
If you're buying this then surely you already know that you like these old Woody Allen movies so there's no need for me to attempt to review the films themselves. I found the box set is well presented with each disc in a very slim case with the usual picture cover and short spiel and technical info on the back. More importantly the transfers to DVD have been done well. Plenty of movies from the pre-digital era have suffered from shoddy transfer to DVD with cropped pictures, poor sound, and video quality resembling VHS. Fortunately the movies in this set have not suffered any of those problems. You can immerse yourself in watching them without risking being distracted or disappointed by anything except the casting, acting, sets, wardrobe, or dialogue.
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on 10 February 2006
A simply sublime collection of six of Woody Allen's early films with Annie Hall clearly the one to savour. Am slightly puzzled that this does not include his first film as director -"Take the Money and Run", which is a side-splitting gem. For this omission I would have deducted half a star - but I can't so 5 stars it has to be and deservedly so ! At the price, it is stunning value for money . Go get it!!
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on 18 May 2005
Woody Allen is one of those directors who is forgotten when you mention the greastest directors of the 70's (i.e. Scorsese, De Palma, Lucus. this collection brings together his films from that generation (excluding one or two). The two best films in this collection, and the two bet known for being his best films are Manhatten and Annie hall. Both of these films tred the line between romantic films and comedies. Others to be included are Sleeper, Love and Death, Bananas and Everything you wanted to know about sex.
My one problem with this collection are that all disks are bare-bone. A few extras would have come a treat but apparently Woody doesn't DO extra features!
Overall, this collection is a must have and any fan of comedy!
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on 31 August 2009
For anyone getting into Woody Allen for the first time or for devoted fans changing from video to DVD this is the prefect collection. Here we have two of cinema's most perfect moments in Annie Hall and Manhattan along with early gagfest features such as Bananas and Sleeper. If you ever find yourself doubting Allen's credentials as a genius just take your pick out of this DVD collection, sit back, and try not to laugh. You'll find it impossible!
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on 9 October 2007
This is a brilliant collection of great Woody Allen films. Unlike the other volumes in the series, this set doesn't contain a single bad or poor film. The only downside is that a previous, identical boxset was released but with the addition of Manhattan. This set therefore feels like it's missing something. I think the most likely reason for removing Manhattan and placing it in the Vol 2 boxset is that the rest of these films are pure comedies, whereas Manhattan is a much broodier film. Still, if you can't get hold of the older boxset, then you really should buy this one. Annie Hall is an absolute classic (Allen's best film?), and the other are highly enjoyable. Love and Death in particular took me surprise - it's fantastic. Well worth the asking price!
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on 4 January 2011
This is Woody Allen at his cheeky best.

Bananas is a great comedy film and Love and Death has great comedy in it.

A good box set from the time he was great.

Would have liked to see Play it again Sam in this box set to complete the package of his great 70's work.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 June 2010
Most of Woody Allen's great early films are here (the only exception being 'Take the Money and Run', his very first, which is absent for some reason). This is a wonderful 'starter' set for anyone curious about Allen, and a must have for any fan who doesn't already have all the titles seperately.

My brief comments on the films (on a 4 star scale)

Bananas (1971)***1/2 Incredibly funny, broad, slapstick, surreal political satire as Woody takes over a Latin American country to impress a girl. A few bits feel dated, and it didn't make me laugh quite as much as 'Take the Money and Run' when I recently re-watched Allen's 'early funny films', but it still has more than it's share of great comic moments. The whole trial sequence is genius worthy of the very best of the Marx Brothers. (Or, in a more modern context Monty Python) Personally I don't love the score -- it tends to underline jokes that don't need the help. It was after this that Allen went away from having music written for his films, using existing pieces instead, which became a huge part of his filmmaking style.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (1972) *** While all the early Woody Allen films are funny and worthwhile, this is probably the most uneven to my taste. Allen took the famous, serious non-fiction book about sex, and turned it into a series of short comedy pieces. A couple segments are pure genius (inside the male body during sex, Gene Wilder falling in love with a sheep), a couple are pretty good (Woody as a medieval court jester trying to have an affair with the queen, who is locked into a chastity belt, a mad scientist creates a giant milk squirting breast that goes on a rampage) and a few are real duds. Also, of all the Allen films, this might have the weakest DVD print/transfer quality.

Sleeper (1973) ***3/4 While all of Allen's early comedies are pretty wonderful, this film represents a big leap in technical proficiency. For the first time you sense him really thinking about how the camera is telling the story. And in finding Diane Keaton, Allen was finally paired with an actress who's comedic strengths were a great match for his. This film relies less on verbal jokes (although there are brilliant lines) and more on visual gags. It almost feels like you're watching a great silent comedy at times. Better music too, with jazz taking over from traditional score the first time in Allen's films. A funny, inventive, sophisticated if sometimes wonderfully silly comedy, with almost no dead moments. For me it represents the beginning of the shift from Allen as a brilliantly funny writer and comic who happened to make films, to becoming one of our very best filmmakers.

Love and Death (1975) **** I'm not surprised this was rumored to be Allen's favorite film. I'd say it's the best of his flat out comedies. All the strengths he was gathering as a filmmaker came together in this brilliant satire of (among other things) 19th century Russian literature, war, epic films about war, Ingmar Bergman, etc. etc. It's very very smart, and very very funny. An amazing mix of sophisticated intellectual verbal comedy, parody, low and high-brow visual gags (from speeded up film of bopping a character repeatedly over the head with a bottle, to homages to great images from early Russian films) , terrific cinematography, and some real ideas, both political and philosophical. Diane Keaton is wonderful, and fully comes into her own as Allen's on screen equal partner. And the look of the film shows the deep visual sophistication that would become a hallmark of the next phase of Allen's career; Annie Hall, Manhattan, etc. With this film Allen completed his journey from brilliant joke teller to brilliant director-writer. It would be his next film, Annie Hall, that would make the world realize he was a world class filmmaker. But you can see the all groundwork laid here, and have a lot of fun in the process.

Annie Hall (1977)**** Quite simply one of the best films about romantic relationships ever made. Brilliantly written. Brilliantly acted -- Diane Keaton is tremendous, the supporting cast is full of gems and Allen himself takes the leap to present himself as a real (if funny) human being and not a walking joke. And brilliantly photographed by the great Gordon Willis of 'The Godfather' and many of most important films of the 70s and 80s. Wildly funny and ultimately heartbreaking. It's hard to imagine anyone who has ever been in love, or struggled through grown-up relationships NOT identifying with a lot of this film. I loved it in my late teens when it first came out, and I love it even more 32 years later. Every time I see it I notice different details, depending on my own current life experiences. A film of enormous wit, humor, invention, and understanding of the human heart. Its completely unique, playful and idiosyncratic in style and approach, but that experimentation somehow only makes it more accessible and universal. If you haven't seen it, you owe yourself a try, even if you're not a Woody Allen 'fan'. And if you saw it long ago, it may be time for another look.
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on 6 December 2011
Any Woody Allen fan should have this collection of movies. It has all of my favourites, Manhattan, Annie Hall, Love and Death and Bananas! The only one I don't really think has to be in the collection is "Everything you always wanted to know about sex". It is a nice collection of short movies on the theme, but still not worthy of a collection, I feel. Broadway Danny Rose might have been a better choice. But then again, maybe they wanted to show a bit of the diversity present in Woody's work. In that case, the selection is efficient.

The DVDs come in a neat case, making it easier to organize them and keep them together.
My all-time favourite movie from this box set would have to be Annie Hall. I've already seen it over 5 times and still watch it every time I recommend it to a friend. It does such a great job of capturing the processes and steps every relationship goes through; with its believable dialogue and adorable characters (Diane Keaton was incredible in that part! It's amazing to see her so early in her career). And Woody playing the main male character, the quirky, neurotic, amusing, shy man who is really just a film version of his real self... sheer delight to watch!
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