That’s Amore: Italy as Muse Woody Allen on Italian Movies and ‘To Rome With Love’
Woody Allen, center, in his new film, “To Rome With Love,”
“I WANTED nothing more than to be a foreign filmmaker,” Woody Allen said recently, “but of course I was from Brooklyn, which was not a foreign country. Through a happy accident I wound up being a foreign filmmaker because I couldn’t raise money any other way.
That film, which Sony Pictures Classics will release on June 22, is an ensemble comedy featuring Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Roberto Benigni and Mr. Allen himself among the Americans and Italians who get mixed up in a series of intertwining adventures and romances.
After toying with titles like “The Bop Decameron” and “Nero Fiddled,” Mr. Allen changed the film’s name to one that reflected not only his affection for Italy but also for that country’s proud tradition of cinema and maverick filmmakers who inspired him to make personal movies of his own.
As a teenager in New York, Mr. Allen, now 76, said in an interview by phone, “my group was hardly an intellectual group — it was a group of mugs.” But he added: “Italian movies were a great staple of our cultural diet. They were a tremendous influence in terms of showing us that one could make movies about mature subjects with profound themes.”
Mr. Allen spoke to Dave Itzkoff about four movies by Italian filmmakers that influenced him most profoundly. “They invented a method of telling a story and suddenly for us lesser mortals it becomes all right to tell a story that way,” Mr. Allen said. “We do our versions of them, never as shockingly innovative or brilliant as when the masters did them.”