We’re cheating a bit with this last one, which not a feature film at all, but a 25-minute film made for public television. What makes it interesting is that it is a 25-minute film made for public television by Woody Allen, who created this wickedly funny political satire for New York’s WNET in 1971. In addition to writing and directing, Allen played the titular role, a close adviser to the Nixon White House (clearly modeled on Henry Kissinger). The film was done in a pseudo-documentary style that inserted Allen’s Wallinger into real footage of the historical figures he was parodying — an early prototype for one of his most acclaimed films, 1983’s Zelig. (The film was also his first on-screen collaboration with future leading lady Diane Keaton.) Though Men of Crisis is clever, well-made, and explosively funny, WNET got cold feet before it aired; the station feared that the notoriously petty Nixon administration would take offense to the film and pull their funding. So it never aired, much to Allen’s chagrin, and was something of a legendary unseen work until a videotape finally turned up at the station in 1997. Unfortunately, Allen has yet to allow it to either air on the station or see a DVD release; the only way you can view it (legally, anyway) is at the Paley Center for Media. If you live in New York, however, it’s totally worth the trip.
(Special thanks to DVD Savant’s “DVD Wish List” for suggesting some titles, and Film Threat’s invaluable Bootleg Files for background info.)