Watching all of Woody Allen's films in order: Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story (1971)

Then See below (again!).

Now Truth be told I've already slipped slightly out of order. The next film to feature a Woody Allen credit was Don't Drink The Water (1969) an adaptation of the stage play he wrote whilst twiddling his thumbs between takes on the set of Casino Royale. But I'm still waiting for a copy to be sent by Amazon (dispatched ages ago, due to be delivered between the 4th and 17th February).

In the meantime. Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story (1971) is a mockumentary satire of the Nixon administration produced for PBS television which features Woody playing Wallinger, a thinly disguised parody of Henry Kissinger. It was his first film with Diane Keaton and also has Louise Lasser and the then current Richard Nixon-lookalike Richard M. Dixon. Like Zelig, these fictional figures were mixed in with actual newsreel footage of Hubert Humphrey, Spiro Agnew, and Nixon in embarrassing public moments.

Sadly, the film is unavailable. It wasn't even broadcast. PBS pulled it from the schedule at a very late stage concerned that their funding might by pulled by the Nixon administration if they were to present such a critical film so close to the election [source of course]. This old New York Times article speculates about a possible broadcast in 1997 but nothing seems to have happened. There are a couple of reviews on-line but these must be from the original broadcast, unless they know something different.

Which is great shame because it sounds like an important milestone in Allen's development as a filmmaker, gathering elements of Take The Money and Run and prefiguring Bananas. One known copy resides at The Paley Centre for Media's film library and their online record includes a detailed synopsis. It doesn't sound any more controversial than an old episode of Spitting Image or a modern political satire.

I emailed the Paley to ask them to ask about distribution and was told: "We do indeed have a copy but per Woody Allen's instructions we are not allowed to screen/stream it. Please let me know if you will ever be in NY though." Which I will of course. Perhaps Woody will reverse his decision at some point in the future if only so that people can study the piece more widely within the context of his career.

So no illustrative trailer this time either. Instead, here's a not unconnected film by Adam Curtis from last night's Newswipe about how all of us have become Richard Nixon now.


  1. Anonymous11:37 pm

    I've been lucky enough to have seen this film. It's typical of Woody's irreverent style and interesting to watch, exaggerating the quirks and idiosyncracies of those characters who appeared to be so 'sure of themselves' during this turbulent period of time.

  2. Anonymous11:32 pm

    I saw the video about 15 years ago. Apparently, one of the folks at the local PBS TV station got a copy of it before it was pulled from scheduling.