Shadows and Fog (7/27/12)

Movie One Hundred Seventy Seven

In Woody Allen’s Shadows and Fog, there is a serial strangler on the loose and a bookkeeper gets caught up in the town’s madness.

A vigilante mob on the search for a strangler wakes up Kleinman (Woody Allen) to help them track the killer down. Outside of town, a group of circus performers is staying. Irmy (Mia Farrow), a sword-swallower,  and Paul (John Malkovich), a clown, are having a dispute which causes Irmy to travel into town for a place to stay. She finds herself in a brothel, and after receiving $700 from a young patron (John Cusack), she is arrested. Kleinman is also at the police station and as the two are leaving, they become close to avoid any danger from the strangler still on the loose.

Woody Allen pays homage to German Expressionism in Shadows and Fog and apparently it was a huge miss with audiences and many critics. I found myself quite taken with Shadows and Fog, partly because of the star studded cast but also because of the natural comedy from having Woody Allen in a noir-like setting. On the surface, this is not a typical Woody Allen film but it’s definitely a Woody Allen film, it’s just in a different wrapper.

When I first heard of Shadows and Fog, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I imagined a serious film where Allen completely steps out of his comfort zone and does something totally unexpected. This isn’t the case, however, despite having a dark feel, having Allen injected into the film’s world significantly changes the tone. This is what makes Shadows and Fog so confusing. It’s clearly an homage to films like M, but Allen keeps you laughing more than worrying. I understand why Shadows and Fog was one of Gene Siskel’s picks for worst of the year, but I also found myself enjoying it.

As one of Allen’s most expensive pictures, Shadows and Fog was a huge flop at the box office and it seems to be fairly unknown from what I can tell. I’m not sure who the target audience should be for a film like this and I’m finding it difficult to even recommend it outright. I will say that I enjoyed watching Shadows and Fog because I was keen to try something new from Woody Allen.

I give it 4 Third Man tributes out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


29 responses to “Shadows and Fog (7/27/12)

  1. Andy,
    This is a lesser Woody for me. I remember when it first came out being surprised that Carlo Di Palma was the DP (which in itself is not surprising being that Woody used Di Palma in most of hs movies during that time of his career…)… But I think going with Sven Nykvist, or Gordon Willis (I think he was working on The Godfather III at that time) would have given an edge on the German Expressionism look WA was paying homage to…
    Le Clown

    • I definitely agree with you there. Since he was trying something new anyway, a different DP could have really taken the look of this into great new places. I guess it was an experiment that failed for Allen but it mostly worked for me. Thanks!

      • Andy,
        In some ways, I completely agree with you. This is not my favourite Woody Allen film, but it is much better than anything he has done for the past 10 years. At least. IMO, of course.
        Le Clown

          • Andy,
            It was not a bad movie at all. Middle of the road, but enjoyable. In his recent ones, I also enjoyed Match Point.
            Le Clown
            PS: I like the work Sara is doing for your banner. I think you’ll be happy.

          • Oh, definitely not bad it just seemed like everyone loved it and I was left saying “yeah, it was fine”. Match Point is one we own, I think it may be the only other 21st century WA film I’ve seen, I’d have to look.

            Excellent! I’m excited to see more.

  2. This is one of the few Woody Allen films I haven’t seen. After your review I’ll check it out. To be honest, he’s not my favorite filmmaker but you’ve got to respect the guy for cranking out films as frequently as he does, especially at his age. Clint Eastwood and Ridley Scott are the only other directors I can think of that put ’em out as fast. If only John Carpenter would rise from the dead (and not make a piece of shit).

  3. I believe a big influence was I. Bergman as well; check out my positive review of TO ROME WITH LOVE and don’t forget the dark metaphysics of the superb MATCH POINT. Great posting!

  4. I wasn’t a big fan of this one. I might have to rewatch it since it has been years. I do remember a bookstore in Boston used to play this movie in the coffee shop quite a bit, but it didn’t have the sound on. It was kind cool to watch it that way. But I usually had my head buried in a book so I didn’t watch it all.

    • Apparently not many people were/are a fan of this one, so you aren’t alone there. It’s fun to watch films you’ve seen before without the sound on to make up your own story and soundtrack.

  5. This is one of the few Woody Allen movies that has escaped me Andy. It sounds, by your review, something that will definitely appeal to me. I’ll keep my eye out.

  6. Pingback: My July Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

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