At 72, Woody Allen figures he's not yet made his masterpiece.


Director Woody Allen, shown in December in New York, says he wants complete creative control of his films. He won't even let backers see a script. ((Evan Agostini/Associated Press))

The director of films such as Annie Hall and Manhattan, both of which are held up as classics, still feels he's made nothing to rival a Citizen Kane.

"I've never really made one, in all the films I've made, that I'd consider a masterpiece," he told CBC cultural affairs show Q in an interview Monday.

Instead, Allen said he's still working at his craft — still improving with every film he makes.

"It's not an exact science. So every time you begin a film project you're starting from scratch and there's always a lot of stuff to learn and a lot of pitfalls and a lot of mistakes that you make and they're not really avoidable by just going through some formula," he said.

Allen said it's taken him some time to abandon the comedies that made him famous and to make dramas.

"It was a question of the seduction of success and cowardice — two traits that I have inbred in me," he said. "My films were comic films and they were very very successful and so people expected that of me and I was more at home doing comic films and less at home doing tragic things."

His 1978 drama, Interiors, was a box office flop but Allen believes he turned the corner on Crimes and Misdemeanors and got better still with Match Point.

Match Point was set in London, as is his following film Scoop and his next film, Cassandra's Dream, due for release in February. 


Tom Wilkinson, left, Ewan McGregor, centre, and Colin Farrell appear in Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream. ((The Weinstein Company/Associated Press))

Allen said he was lured away from his native Manhattan, the setting of most of his films, by an offer of money.

"It originated when I first had a script for Match Point. I was going to do it in New York but some people came along from London and said, 'We'd like to bankroll this for you. We'll give you the money you need to make the picture if you make it in London.'"

He admits he was "trepidacious" about London, but once he began filming, he had a good time. And because he's uncompromising with investors, Allen sometimes has difficulty getting backers.

"The way I work I don't let anybody see a script. No one has anything to say about casting; I have complete control of everything," he said.

"Of course it's always hard to raise money because I go in and say, 'Look I don't make a fortune on my films and I have to have complete control of everything and I want you to put up the money and then leave me alone.' People are very often reluctant to take that proposition."

Cassandra's Dream stars Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell as Cockney brothers who are lured into crime by financial woes. It opens in February in Canada.

Allen said he goes on making films to "fill the time" rather than to leave a legacy.

'Zero interest' in legacy

"I have zero interest in any legacy," he said. "When I'm done I couldn't care less if they flush those films down the toilet. To me it doesn't matter. I had fun making them and I get to work with witty guys and beautiful women."

Filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg are influential and their work is reverberating through the work of other young filmmakers, Allen said.

But he sees no such following for his own films.

"I just don't see films coming out that are shot the way I shoot them. I don't think young filmmakers think, 'God I've got to make a film like this guy.' "