Happy Birthday, Woody Allen: 75 of His Best Quotes


Today Woody Allen — who was born and raised in Brooklyn as Allen Konigsberg — turns 75. To help celebrate a man who is arguably as famous for his neurotic outlook on life as he is his filmmaking, we’ve decided to roundup 75 of his best quotes. Some of them come from his films, while others are from his everyday life. The connecting thread? Almost all of them have to do with sex, death, or God, three of Allen’s favorite subjects.

Film still from Annie Hall (1977)

1. “I feel sex is a beautiful thing between two people. Between five, it’s fantastic.” – from a stand-up routine

2. “To you I’m an atheist; to God, I’m the Loyal Opposition.” – from Stardust Memories

3. “That sex was the most fun I’ve ever had without laughing.” – from Annie Hall

4. “Sex alleviates tension. Love causes it.” – from A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy

5. “I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy myself, but I didn’t.” – from The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

6. “You know a lot of geniuses, y’know. You should meet some stupid people once in a while, y’know, you could learn something.” – from Manhattan

7. “The man who said ‘I’d rather be lucky than good’ saw deeply into life. People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It’s scary to think so much is out of one’s control. There are moments in a match when the ball hits the top of the net and for a split second it can either go forward or fall back. With a little luck it goes forward and you win. Or maybe it doesn’t and you lose.” – from Match Point

8. “Between the Pope and air conditioning, I’d choose air conditioning.” – from Deconstructing Harry

9. “Sex and death are two things that come but once in my lifetime, but at least after death you’re not nauseous.” – from Sleeper

10. “I do the movies just for myself like an institutionalized person who basket-weaves. Busy fingers are happy fingers. I don’t care about the films. I don’t care if they’re flushed down the toilet after I die.”

11. “To me there’s no real difference between a fortune teller or a fortune cookie and any of the organized religions. They’re all equally valid or invalid, really. And equally helpful.” from a 2010 New York Times interview

12. “Honey, there’s a spider in your bathroom the size of a Buick.” – from Annie Hall

13. “I remember when I was a little boy, I once stole a pornographic book that was printed in Braille. I used to rub the dirty parts.” – from Bananas

14. “I feel like we’re in a Noel Coward play. Someone should be making martinis.” – from Manhattan

15. “I can’t enjoy anything unless everybody is. If one guy is starving someplace, that puts a crimp in my evening.” – from Annie Hall

Film still from Sleeper (1973)

16. “You’re God’s answer to Job, y’know? You would have ended all argument between them. I mean, He would have pointed to you and said, y’know, ‘I do a lot of terrible things, but I can still make one of these.’ You know? And then Job would have said, ‘Eh. Yeah, well, you win.'” – from Manhattan

17. “I can’t listen to that much Wagner. I start getting the urge to conquer Poland.” – from Manhattan Murder Mystery

18. “My brain: it’s my second favorite organ.” – from Sleeper

19. “I don’t believe in an afterlife, although I am bringing a change of underwear.” – from Getting Even

20. “Don’t you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we’re left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here.” – from Annie Hall

21. “Marriage? That’s for life! It’s like cement!” – from What’s New, Pussycat?

22. “Millions of books written on every conceivable subject by all these great minds and in the end, none of them knows anything more about the big questions of life than I do … I read Socrates. This guy knocked off little Greek boys. What the Hell’s he got to teach me? And Nietzsche, with his theory of eternal recurrence. He said that the life we lived we’re gonna live over again the exact same way for eternity. Great. That means I’ll have to sit through the Ice Capades again. It’s not worth it. And Freud, another great pessimist. I was in analysis for years and nothing happened. My poor analyst got so frustrated, the guy finally put in a salad bar. Maybe the poets are right. Maybe love is the only answer.” – from Hannah and Her Sisters

23. “When it comes to sex there are certain things that should always be left unknown, and with my luck, they probably will be.” – from Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask

24. “To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But, then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer, to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love, to be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy, therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness — I hope you’re getting this down.” – from Love and Death

25. “Interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is finite. This is a very comforting thought — particularly for people who can never remember where they have left things.” – from Side Effects

26. “My love life is terrible. The last time I was inside a woman was when I visited the Statue of Liberty.” from Crimes and Misdemeanors

27. “I think people should mate for life, like pigeons or Catholics.” – from Manhattan

28. “My God! I beat a man insensible with a strawberry!” – from Sleeper

29. “As the poet said, ‘Only God can make a tree’ — probably because it’s so hard to figure out how to get the bark on.” – from Without Feathers

30. “I worked with Freud in Vienna. We broke over the concept of penis envy. He thought it should be limited to women.” – from Zelig

Title screen from Manhattan (1979)

31. “I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable. ” – from Annie Hall

32. “I’m what you would call a teleological, existential atheist. I believe that there’s an intelligence to the universe, with the exception of certain parts of New Jersey.” – from Sleeper

33. “I don’t know if you’ve read my book, Advanced Sexual Positions: How to Achieve Them Without Laughing.” – from Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask

34. “Hey, Harvard makes mistakes too! Kissinger taught there!” – from Annie Hall

35. “The important thing, I think, is not to be bitter… if it turns out that there is a God, I don’t think that he is evil. I think that the worst thing you could say is that he is, basically, an under-achiever.” – from Love and Death

36. “Talent is luck. The important thing in life is courage.” – from Manhattan

37. “Tradition is the illusion of permanence.” – from Deconstructing Harry

38. “I can’t express anger. That’s one of the problems I have. I grow a tumor instead.” – from Manhattan

39. “Can we actually “know” the universe? My God, it’s hard enough finding your way around in Chinatown.” – from Getting Even

40. “What a world. It could be so wonderful if it wasn’t for certain people.” – from Radio Days

41. “I’d call him a sadistic, hippophilic necrophile, but that would be beating a dead horse.” – from What’s Up, Tiger Lily?

42. “You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.”

43. “Hey, don’t knock masturbation! It’s sex with someone I love.” – from Annie Hall

44. “It’s just gossip, you know. Gossip is the new pornography.” – from Manhattan

45. “Where did you go to finishing school? On a pirate ship?” – from Love and Death

Film still from Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

46. “When it comes to relationships with women, I’m the winner of the August Strindberg Award.” – from Manhattan

47. “Science is an intellectual dead end, you know? It’s a lot of little guys in tweed suits cutting up frogs on foundation grants.” – from Sleeper

48. “Regarding love… what can you say? It’s not the quantity of your sexual relations that counts. It’s the quality. On the other hand if the quantity drops below once every eight months, I would definitely look into it.” – from Love and Death

49. “Sylvia Plath – interesting poetess whose tragic suicide was misinterpreted as romantic by the college girl mentality.” – from Annie Hall

50. “Where I grew up… in Brooklyn, nobody committed suicide… you know, everyone was too unhappy.” – from Crimes and Misdemeanors

51. “I was nauseous and tingly all over. I was either in love or I had smallpox.”

52. “They probably sit around on the floor with wine and cheese, and mispronounce allegorical and didacticism.” – from Manhattan

53. “Love is too weak a word for what I feel – I luuurve you, you know, I loave you, I luff you, two F’s, yes I have to invent, of course I — I do, don’t you think I do?” – from Annie Hall

54. “I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.”

55. “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.”

56. “My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.”

57. “I’m twelve years old. I run into a synagogue. I ask the rabbi the meaning of life. He tells me the meaning of life but he tells it to me in Hebrew. I don’t understand Hebrew. Then he wants to charge me $600 for Hebrew lessons.” – from Zelig

58. “A relationship, I think, is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.” – from Annie Hall

59. “Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering – and it’s all over much too soon.”

60. “What if nothing exists and we’re all in somebody’s dream? Or what’s worse, what if only that fat guy in the third row exists?” – from Without Feathers

Film still from Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

61. “I had a mad impulse to throw you down on the lunar surface and commit interstellar perversion.” – from Manhattan

62. “When I asked my mother where babies came from, she thought I said ‘rabies.’ She said you get them from being bitten by a dog. The next week, a woman on my block gave birth to triplets… I thought she’d been bitten by a Great Dane.” – from Sleeper

63. “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”

64. “The two biggest myths about me are that I’m an intellectual, because I wear these glasses, and that I’m an artist because my films lose money. Those two myths have been prevalent for many years.”

65. “I don’t want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light.” – from Annie Hall

66. “Can you believe that? She says I’m not leader enough for her. Who was she looking for… Hitler?” – from Bananas

67. “If my films make one more person miserable, I’ll feel I have done my job.”

68. “Years ago I wrote this short story about my mother called ‘The Castrating Zionist.'” from Manhattan

69. “While we’re waiting for a cab I’ll give you your lesson for today. Don’t listen to what your teachers tell ya, you know. Don’t pay attention. Just, just see what they look like and that’s how you’ll know what life is really gonna be like.” – from Crimes and Misdemeanors

70. “No, I don’t think you’re paranoid. I think you’re the opposite of paranoid. I think you walk around with the insane delusion that people like you.” – from Deconstructing Harry

71. “My brother beat me. My sister beat my brother. My father beat my sister, my brother, and me. My mother beat my father, my sister, my brother, and me. The neighbors beat our family. The family down the street beat the neighbors and our family.” – from Zelig

72. “I thought of that old joke: This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, ‘Doc, my brother’s crazy, he thinks he’s a chicken.’ And the doctor says, ‘Well why don’t you turn him in?’ and the guy says, ‘I would, but I need the eggs.’ Well, I guess that’s pretty much now how I feel about relationships. They’re totally irrational and crazy and absurd, but I guess we keep going through it because most of us need the eggs.” – from Annie Hall

73. “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here. I’m 237 years old, I should be collecting social security.” – from Sleeper

74. “Chapter One. He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved. Behind his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat. Oh, I love this. New York was his town, and it always would be.” – from Manhattan

75. “It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” – from Without Feathers