Yesterday, I wrote about lost songs by Sheldon Harnick. And a lost episode of Seinfeld. It just seemed timely today to show this lost film by Woody Allen. No, really. A film by Woody Allen that's been lost for almost half a century.
Alas, after watching the video just yesterday, and posting this today, it turns out that the film has been pulled due to a copyright claim by WNET. I'm going to leave the posting up, because I think it's a fascinating film to know about -- and maybe the claim will be ruled against, and the video will be accessible one day. Until then...sorry, and ack. But here's the tale regardless.
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Some of you may have seen this over on Mark Evanier's website, but it's too wonderful and rare to let slip through the cracks for those who haven't.
As Mark described it, "In 1971, Mr. Allen wrote, directed and appeared in a short film that was to air on PBS — a rather devastating look at the administration of one Richard M. Nixon. Due to cowardice and/or political pressures, it never aired on PBS but you can watch it below."
While I agree with what Mark says above about cowardice and pressure, it's nonetheless hard to be surprised that this didn't air. Far softer material has been blocked from being shown on TV, and PBS (being publicly funded) has a history of upsetting one party or another -- usually that one party has been the GOP, and the another one has been them, too -- and had shows cancelled or not aired. The wonderful Great American Dream Machine is a prominent program that likely bit the dust due to political pressure.
And this film is utterly scathing. And about a sitting president. It's also extremely funny. (How extremely may depend on your political opinions, but there's plenty of humor regardless.) It was done quite early in Woody Allen's filmmaking career, around the time when he was still making purely comic films, so it's a rare treat to see more of that. The same year that was supposed to be shown, Bananas was released. This film has touches of that, and the subsequent Zelig coming a decade later, all told from the perspective of a Henry Kissinger-like character played by Allen.
There are a few actors you'll recognize, most notably Diane Keaton and Louise Lasser (who he was either just divorced from or in the last stages of her marriage with Allen), but also Conrad Bain from Different Strokes, and Graham Jarvis, who a few years later would be in Marry Hartman, Mary Hartman with Ms. Lasser.
So, 43 years later, here is The Harvey Wallinger Story.
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Or...well, not. Hopefully it will re-appear before another 43 years pass. But for now...I leave it to your imagination....
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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