The fall of 1978 was not kind to Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells. In between working as a Connecticut tree surgeon on weekends and borrowing rent money from his dad, he was writing film reviews for free and sharing magazine article pitches with individuals who seemed to have attained their position by means of something other than editorial competence.
Then it happened. Blogging wistfully over the weekend, Wells recalled crashing a film shoot at an art gallery near West Broadway and Prince, where he availed himself of craft service and stumbled into a bespectacled muse:
I walked into the main gallery room and there, sitting in a canvas chair and reading something intently, was young Woody Allen. He was being left alone, nobody hovering. Glasses, dark brownish-red hair, flannel shirt… and sitting absolutely still, like a Duane Hanson sculpture.
He might have had a bit of makeup on, or so I recall. But it was Woody, all right, and right away I said to myself, “I’m gonna get busted if I stand here and just stare at him.” So I walked around a bit more with a guarded expression and then went downstairs and asked somebody what the movie was called. “It’s a Woody Allen film… that’s all I know,” some guy said.
The movie turned out to be Manhattan. And those three minutes of proximity to the Woodman magically lifted Wells spirits at a time when he needed it most.