Then there is her wonderful Irish shrew of a mother. Maureen O'Sullivan, now in her 80s, was once the jungle companion of Tarzan of the Apes in the 1930s adventure films. She charges about honking the accusation that Woody is an evil man.

For those in a voyeuristic frame of mind, there is Woody's film Hannah and Her Sisters, readily available on videotape.

It was filmed in 1986 right in Farrow's New York apartment while they were still a couple. Included in the cast are Farrow, her children and her mother. In it, Woody plays her ex-husband, who makes his living as a television executive.

The film opens during a Thanksgiving Day party in the apartment. Farrow is surrounded by her children and her parents, including O'Sullivan, who gives a salty performance as her movie mother. The scene was Woody's tribute to Ingmar Bergman's opening scene in Fanny and Alexander. Watching the doings makes you feel uncomfortably like you are spying into the actual mnage before the troubles surfaced. Your eyes automatically search for the children, wondering which of the girls is Soon-Yi. You wonder which one is the little boy Farrow claims Woody molested.

You look for them and you despise yourself for doing so. But such is the power of these awful charges. It stains the character of everyone within hearing distance.

In Woody's first appearance on screen, he is shown walking into a television studio. He is accosted by a producer who tells Woody about a sketch that can't be aired on that night's show.

"Why all of a sudden is this sketch considered dirty?" Woody's character asks.
"Child molestation's a touchy subject," the producer says.
"Read the papers," Woody says. "Half the country's doing it." Is this more evidence against Woody? Or were these remarks later noticed by Farrow and used diabolically to build her own case?

By the way, no one knows if half the country is "doing it." But certainly every literate person in it has by now read about Woody supposedly "doing it" with Farrow's children. Mia's former husband, Frank Sinatra, has also chimed in on Mia's side. Wonderful!

Sinatra, who married Farrow when he was over 50 and she had just turned 20, now becomes the defender of the cross. @rule:

@body:And, of course, there is the galloping, harrumphing barrister, Alan Dershowitz. You remember him, of course. He is the defender of such worthies as Claus von Bulow and Leona Helmsley. Dershowitz says that it is not true that Mia demanded that Woody make a lump payment of $7 million in return for her silence.

The money, Dershowitz says, was not a payoff. It was to be used for support payments for the family. It would make it unnecessary for her to undergo the humiliation of soliciting funds from Allen each month. By now the thought police are everywhere, scouring through Woody's classic films, searching for lines they believe provide clues to his diabolical intentions. We are all in search of Woody Allen as Humbert Humbert.

No matter whether he was Alvy Singer in Annie Hall or Isaac Davis in Manhattan or the college professor in his newest film, the character, in essence, is always Woody Allen. The character Woody projects on the screen is tortured, full of self-doubts about his own character, and immensely talented. Woody's life has become tangled beyond repair. "I don't believe in an afterlife," he once said, "although I am bringing a change of underwear." He will need more than that to get through this siege, which promises to be bloodier and longer than the battle for Sarajevo. There may be no survivors.

Woody's act of betrayal with Soon-Yi was hinted at on screen as long ago as 1979 in Manhattan, when he as a middle-aged writer fell in love with the schoolgirl played by 17-year-old Mariel Hemingway. One fears that Woody, even with all his talents for creating a sympathetic persona, will be unable to untwist this latest turn in his life into a warm and humorous tale. Not even background music by George and Ira Gershwin or poignant scenes of the Brooklyn Bridge or the New York skyline can create the miracle.

It was one thing for Woody to fall in love with a teenager in Manhattan. As he did that, he was playing a nudnik who was unable to decide whether his life ambition was to write the Great American Novel or be Humphrey Bogart.

Real life is different. In reality Woody is a rich and powerful figure in the film industry. More important, he had already been involved with the same woman for a dozen years. And the young girl he has taken up with was his adopted daughter since she was 8 years old.

@body:All last week, writers in the New York Times took turns fretting over the revelations. Headline writers had a field day. Woody Allen was much more interesting than George Bush.

He was even accused of sexually abusing Farrow's 7-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan, whose custody Allen also seeks.

In Manhattan, Mariel Hemingway says, "I'm legal, but I'm still a kid."
In Annie Hall, Woody says, "Even as a kid, I always fell for the wrong women. I feel that's my real problem." In Bananas, Woody says, "I'm doing a sociological study of perversion. I'm up to advanced child-molesting." Allen and Farrow made a dozen films together during their odd relationship. During this time, they had one child of their own and adopted several, but never lived under the same roof. He lived on the east side of Central Park and she and the children on the opposite side of the park.

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