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After his success with the comedy Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), Woody Allen turned to two dramas. September was released in December 1987 followed by Another Woman in 1988. According to John Baxter in Woody Allen: A Biography, "Embarking on another drama immediately after September was a calculated risk. September hadn't been released when Allen started shooting (Another Woman) in October 1987, and Orion still had every reason to believe that the earlier film would do well. Were that to happen, Another Woman could be the film that sealed Allens new standing as a dramatic film-maker." Unfortunately, however, neither drama did well with critics or audiences.
In Another Woman, Gena Rowlands plays Marion Post, a middle aged woman who appears to have it all. She is a successful professor at a women's college, is married to a cardiologist, and has many friends. Marion comes to realize, however, that her life and relationships aren't as perfect as she thought. This realization begins when Marion rents an apartment to use as an office while she writes her new book. Due to some kind of acoustic anomaly, she is able to hear conversations in the apartment next door where an analyst has his office. Marion becomes intrigued by the sessions of a young pregnant woman considering suicide (Mia Farrow). The woman is never named in the film until the end credits where she is identified as "Hope." Through Hopes story and a series of encounters with her family and friends, Marion begins to see that she has lead a cold and detached life. Marion's childhood and first marriage are seen in realistic dream sequences and flashbacks. According to Baxter, Allen later described Marion as "the character...who of all those in his work most resembled him intellectually."
There are different reports on the origins of the story idea for Another Woman. According to Allen, several years earlier he had an idea for a comedy about a man who overhears a woman talking to her analyst. When he discovers she is beautiful, he uses the information he learned in her sessions to make her fall in love with him. But Allen was uncomfortable with the eavesdropping aspect of the story and put it away. He would later use the idea in Another Woman and again in Everyone Says I Love You (1996). Mia Farrow recalls a different origin to the film. In her autobiography, Farrow explains how she lived in an apartment next to a well-known analyst and always saw famous patients coming and going. Farrow says she once asked Allen, "Wouldn't it be so cool to get one of those spy listening devices? We could hear what they're saying through the wall." Allen responded disapprovingly asking if she would want to define herself as someone who would do that. Farrow states, "My unworthy thought was somewhat redeemed when the script of Another Woman was built around just such a situation."
Originally, Mia Farrow was to have played Marion, but since she was pregnant, the part went to Gena Rowlands. Several other cast changes also took place during filming. Ben Gazzara had the role of Marion's husband, Ken, but Allen recast Ian Holm in the role. Dianne Wiest was set to play the role of Hope but had to back out due to illness. Then Jane Alexander took the part, but when she didn't work out, Mia Farrow took the role and her pregnancy was written into the film. Farrow was seven months pregnant when filming began. She gave birth to Woody Allen's son Satchel (named after the baseball player Satchel Paige) in December 1987. Farrow took a month off and then returned to the set and finished shooting her scenes with a padded stomach.
In Woody: Movies From Manhattan, author Julian Fox describes how producer Robert Greenhut and production manager Joe Hartwick, "were often driven mad by Woody's perfectionism on Another Woman, exemplified by a scene, already shot, which Woody decided to rewrite and shoot again on the very last day of filming." The scene was ultimately cut from the final film. Allen also changed his mind several times about the film's opening. At one point he wanted a tracking shot to follow Marion walking down the street carrying groceries for her new apartment. After crews spent two hours setting up track for the camera shot, Allen changed his mind. Instead of the outdoor shot, the film opens with Marion in her apartment.
Another Woman had a very limited release in the United States and earned less than two million dollars at the box office. Younger audiences thought the characters were too old to have the romantic problems they did, while older viewers had trouble believing all New Yorkers discuss Heidegger at cocktail parties. According to Fox, "After its disappointing reception (Allen) suggested that he should have made two movies one a money making comedy with himself and Mia or Diane Keaton as the protagonists, and another film, more serious, which would not do so well. But 'I wasn't good enough,' (Allen) said, 'to have it rise to the level I wanted.'"
Director: Woody Allen
Producer: Robert Greenhut
Screenplay: Woody Allen
Cinematography: Sven Nykvist
Film Editing: Susan E. Morse
Art Direction: Speed Hopkins
Cast: Gena Rowlands (Marion), Mia Farrow (Hope), Ian Holm (Ken), Blythe Danner (Lydia), Gene Hackman (Larry), Martha Plimpton (Laura), John Houseman (Marion's father), Sandy Dennis (Claire), Betty Buckley (Kathy), David Ogden Stiers (Young Marion's father), Philip Bosco (Sam), Harris Yulin (Paul).
by Deborah Looney