What will almost certainly be their final film together is now being sneak-previewed in various parts of the country.

It is called Husbands and Wives, and the plot involves a college professor and his wife and a 21-year-old student. Woody, of course, is having an affair with the student. Farrow plays the wife.

At one point in the film, Allen's character talks of his attraction to "crazy women." He says to his wife:

"I thought you were different. I thought you were sane and strong, but it turns out, in your own quiet way, you're just as crazy as the rest of them." There is a scene in the film in which the young woman attempts to seduce Allen, who plays a man with a self-destructive streak.

Allen tells the young girl that their relationship just could not work out. Then he adds, "Why do I hear $50,000 worth of psychotherapy dialing 911?" I never miss a Woody Allen movie. In this I'm not alone. When I lived in Chicago, it often meant standing in lines in below-freezing temperatures to get a seat on opening day. The cold never bothered me. Neither did it deter anyone else who was a Woody Allen fan.

His films are so memorable. They become a part of our lives. We talk about Woody Allen over dinner and drinks as if we know him personally. I still remember pivotal events of the periods in which the films appeared.

Annie Hall won four Academy Awards, for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and for Diane Keaton as Best Actress of 1977. But Woody didn't bother to show up for the awards ceremony. He spent the night playing with a small musical group in Michael's Pub in New York. That was the year Gary Gilmore was killed by a firing squad up in Utah. It was also the year Groucho Marx and Elvis Presley died.

Jimmy Carter urged all Americans to become better family people. "Those of you who are living in sin, I hope you get married," Carter said. "And those of you who have left your spouses, go back home." In those days, George Bush and Dan Quayle were still more than a decade away from assuming their roles as moral arbiters.

Manhattan came out in 1979. That was the year O.J. Simpson retired from football and Ronald Reagan began his pursuit of the Republican nomination. How good is Woody Allen as a filmmaker? I answer that with a question. Over the years, who's better? I always remember that unforgettable scene in Annie Hall when Woody dines with Annie's WASP family. Annie's grandmother peers across at Woody, who is transformed in her eyes into a bearded rabbi.

What will he look like to us when this gruesome business has finally run its course?


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