- Sweet and Lowdown
name = Sweet and Lowdown
image_size = 200px
caption =original movie poster
Sean Penn Samantha Morton Anthony LaPaglia Uma Thurman
Sony Pictures Classics
4 September 1999
runtime = 95 min.
language = English
imdb_id = 0158371|
"Sweet and Lowdown" is a 1999 film written and directed by
Woody Allenwhich tells the story of a (fictional) arrogant, obnoxious, alcoholic jazz guitarist named Emmett Ray (played by Sean Penn) who may be the best guitarist in the world. (Or second, if you count his idol, Django Reinhardt.) The film also stars Uma Thurman, Anthony LaPaglia, and Samantha Mortonas Hattie, a lovable young mute girl. Allen appears briefly as himself, being interviewed about Ray's music. The film, loosely based on Federico Fellini's film "La strada", was one of Allen's most well-received dramatic films.cite web | url = http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/sweet_and_lowdown/ | title = Sweet and Lowdown | publisher = RottenTomatoes.com | accessdate = 2007-01-23]
Hot off his 1969 directing debut "
Take the Money and Run", Allen signed a contract to direct a series of films with United Artists. Told to "write what you want to write," Allen wrote "The Jazz Baby", a dramatic screenplay about a jazz musician set in the thirties. Allen said later that the United Artists executives were "stunned....because they had expected a comedy. [They] were very worried and told me, 'We realize that we signed a contract with you and you can do anything you want. But we want to tell you that we really don't like this.'"Bjorkman, Stig, ed. "Woody Allen on Woody Allen: Revised Edition". London: Faber and Faber, 1995, 2004. p. 36-7.] Allen went along with United Artists, writing and directing "Bananas" instead. In 1995, he dismissed "The Jazz Baby" as having been "probably too ambitious."Bjorkman, Stig, ed. "Woody Allen on Woody Allen: Revised Edition". London: Faber and Faber, 1995, 2004. p. 36-7.]
In 1998, Allen returned to the project, rewriting the script and dubbing it "Sweet and Lowdown". In the role of Emmet Ray, a jazz guitarist whom Allen had originally planned to play himself, the director cast
Sean Penn. (Allen also considered Johnny Depp, but the actor was busy at the time.)Bjorkman, Stig, ed. "Woody Allen on Woody Allen: Revised Edition". London: Faber and Faber, 1995, 2004. p. 347-56.] Though Allen was initially wary of working with Penn, having heard that he was difficult, he later said that "I had no problem with him whatsoever....He gave it his all and took direction and made contributions himself... a tremendous actor."Bjorkman, Stig, ed. "Woody Allen on Woody Allen: Revised Edition". London: Faber and Faber, 1995, 2004. p. 347-56.]
Allen's use of Penn (and Morton) paid off when "Sweet and Lowdown" was nominated for
Academy Awardsfor Best Actor in a Leading Role (Sean Penn) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Samantha Morton). Morton's nomination was especially notable, considering the fact that she doesn't utter a single word of dialogue in the film. Allen has said that he told Morton to "play the part like Harpo Marx. And she said, 'Who is Harpo Marx?' and I realized how young she was. Then I told her about him [and] she went back and saw the films."Bjorkman, Stig, ed. "Woody Allen on Woody Allen: Revised Edition". London: Faber and Faber, 1995, 2004. p. 347-56.] In addition to her Oscar nomination, Morton's performance was met with critical acclaim, with Salon.comcritic Stephanie Zacharek saying that she "quietly explodes [the movie] ....Her performance is like nothing I've seen in recent years."cite web | url = http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/sweet_and_lowdown/ | title = Sweet and Lowdown | publisher = RottenTomatoes.com | accessdate = 2007-01-23]
"Sweet and Lowdown" was filmed entirely in
New Yorkbut set in the Chicago area and California.Bjorkman, Stig, ed. "Woody Allen on Woody Allen: Revised Edition". London: Faber and Faber, 1995, 2004. p. 347-56.]
The music for the film was arranged and conducted by
Dick Hyman. All of the guitar solos are played by guitarist Howard Alden. Alden also coached Sean Pennon playing the guitar for his role in the film.
*Sound bites from the film were utilized in the song "The Strange Famous Mullet Remover", written by white rapper
Sage Francisoff his album Personal Journals.
*imdb title|id=0158371|title=Sweet and Lowdown
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