Have been trying to link Woody Allen to...

SOME REPUBLICANS

August 27, 1992|By THEO LIPPMAN JR.

SOME REPUBLICANS have been trying to link Woody Allen to the Democrats. But in fact this scandal occurred during Republican administrations.

If what happened in and to the Evil Empire in the Eighties and Nineties is due to Reagan-Bush rule, so is what happened in and to the Woody Allen-Mia Farrow love affair.

The fact is, during the Jimmy Carter administration, Allen and Farrow did not behave this way. They didn't get serious until 1981, after Ronald Reagan was elected president. They didn't begin adopting their children until 1985, inspired, or reassured, perhaps, by the re-election of Reagan.

The decisions that led inevitably to their tragic present situation were made during and in the spirit of Morning in America -- everything was possible and times would always get better for the very rich being made richer by Reagan policy. And now, as George Bush and his inept crew stumble along with the nation into ever-worsening (or never-improving) economic and morale malaise, Allen's and Farrow's lives collapse. They are metaphors for the Bush Era.

I don't mean to suggest that Woody is a Republican (though the message of many of his movies is that liberals are neurotic losers). In his greatest movie ("Annie Hall," made during the Carter Era), he played a character who entertained at a fund raiser for Adlai Stevenson. He probably is a Democrat. No, he probably is a non-Republican. His only truly political film -- which you never saw -- was principally anti-Richard Nixon, but it was also anti-Democratic.

Allen said of the work, titled "The Politics of Woody Allen," that it attacked Nixon only because Nixon was president at the time; if Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson had been, he would have satirized them, he said.

"The Politics of Woody Allen" was made in 1972 for the Public Broadcasting Service. Its story began with the 1968 election. Here's an example of the humor:

Voice as newsreel shows Richard Nixon: "The Republicans choose a man of force and magnitude -- of personal charisma and a profound grasp of major issues -- but that man refuses the nomination and they settle for Richard Nixon."

Woody played the central figure in the spoof, a Henry Kissinger type named Harvey Wallinger. "Nobody goes in to see the president without going through Harvey Wallinger," a character explains. "If you want something done, you've got to be in good with Harvey. If Mrs. Nixon wants to kiss her husband, she has to kiss Harvey first."

There were also scenes showing Hubert Humphrey making an obscene finger gesture to President Johnson, a suggestion that Pat Nixon tries to have an affair with Harvey and an irreverent portrayal of a Catholic nun.

PBS considered it in bad taste and asked changes. Allen said it was supposed to be in bad taste and refused to make the changes. So it was never broadcast.

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