Critical Reception


- “Oedipus Wrecks” is pure comedy. I think that’s the right idea for this project — unapologetically goofy humor not only works in small doses, but is often better at 30 minutes than at 90. [2]


- I was a great admirer of Another Woman, Interiors and even, to a certain degree, September, yet they still felt partly like exercises, or experiments; like Allen was consciously trying to do something different. Oedipus Wrecks on the other hand, is so natural and easy-going it’s hard to feel like this isn’t Woody Allen’s true voice. It may be unfair for me to say, but it seems like this is what flows from Allen naturally, while movies like Another Woman are effortful departures. [2]


- Allen's mistake, I think, was to avoid dealing with the actual consequences that would result from such a startling manifestation. The last half of the film sees more odd and off-balance than funny. –Roger Ebert [4]


- If ''Oedipus Wrecks,'' Mr. Allen's priceless contribution to the collection, has the edge over its companion pieces, it's partially because he's an old hand when it comes to short fiction… In his own idiosyncratic way, Mr. Allen is a master of the short story form…''Oedipus Wrecks'' has the voice and freewheeling manner of Mr. Allen's best prose pieces. - Vincent Canby [5]


- Laughing for 35 straight minutes is truly a liberating experience. I’m really not trying to be down on Allen’s serious films, but watching Oedipus Wrecks felt like finally escaping a conversation with a brilliant but self-absorbed and humorless party guest and getting back into the room with all the nice, funny people. The first two thirds of New York Stories is 50% pretty good and 50% god-awful, but Oedipus Wrecks is essential for Allen fans. [2]


- “New York Stories”, financed and released by Touchstone Pictures, a subsidiary of Diisney, did poorly at the box office. Despite the reputations of the three superstar filmmakers, it grossed a disappointing $10.8 million against an estimated negative cost of $19 million. [6]


- 73% Rotten Tomatoes rating


-“Oedipus Wrecks” runtime is 40 minutes

-Released March 10, 1989 [3]

-Production Company: Touchstone Pictures

-Distributor: Touchstone Pictures

-Rated PG

- New York Stories Budget: $15 million

-New York Stories Grossed $10.6 million [3] or $10,763,469 [1]

- Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1 [1]

- This is Allen’s first comedy since Broadway Danny Rose, although the last time he did something this single-mindedly funny was probably Love and Death, which feels like a lifetime ago. During the early, funny films I often opined that I was getting anxious for more serious fare, but at the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, it’s great seeing him so free-wheeling and funny after so many downers in a row. [2]


- Oedipus Wrecks is everything that September, Another Woman and Hannah and her Sisters was not. It’s filled with exactly the same smart, wacky, Jewish humor that made him famous in the first place. If calculating on a laughter-per-minute basis, it’s probably the funniest movie he’s made yet. [2]


- “Usually after working on something for a long period of time you just want to go on to something else, to something completely different.” –Woody Allen [3]


- “I did mention it to my producer, Robert Greenhut, and he thought it would be a good idea to get three people to direct one episode each. And originally he suggested that I and Martin Scorsese – whom he had worked with once – and Steven Spielberg should be in the project. And he got the three of us together, and we agreed to do it. We all thought it was a nice idea. And then Spielberg couldn’t do it, so they got Francis Coppola instead. It was an easy project, because I had a funny idea. You know, no problem.” – Woody Allen [3]


- Allen on casting Mae Questel: “Well, Juliet Taylor tried almost every Jewish old lady in town. She went to old ladies’ homes, she went to acting groups. And finally, after I had seen about thirty actresses, Mae Questel came in as part of a routine thing and (Woody snaps his fingers) the second I saw her, the second she read, she was right on the nose. She couldn’t be better. She even loos like my mother. –Woody Allen [7]


-Allen on casting Jesse Keosian: “Then one day Juliet Taylor said to me, ‘A wonderful little woman came into my office, after my scouting at the older persons’ retirement homes, and I think she’s the greatest looking little woman. And she says she knows you from school. She says she was your biology teacher.’ So I said, ‘Mrs Keosian?’ And she got the part.”  –Woody Allen [7]


"Oedipus Wrecks " Screening Companion

- The role of the magician was originally written for Wallace Shawn. Instead, Allen decided to go with a real magician (George Schindler). [2]


- Mia Farrow is still pregnant, which means this must’ve been shot around the same time as Another Woman. [2]


- Jessie Keosian, who plays Aunt Ceil in the Woody Allen segment, "Oedipus Wrecks," was Allen's high school biology teacher. They had not met since high school until the audition for this film. [1] the most financially successful short-film compilation of all-time is still Woody Allen’s own Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask. [2]



- “Oedipus Wrecks” went into production seven months before “Crimes and Misdemeanors.”


- The “Oedipus Wrecks” segment features two famous voices — that of Betty Boop (Mae Questel) and that of Marge Simpson (Julie Kavner). [2]


- Mae Questel (the mother), who’s also a singer, sang the song “Do The Chameleon” for the movie Zelig. [2


- Kirsten Dunst makes her screen debut as one of Mia Farrow’s daughters. [2]


[1] –

[2] –

[3] - Turner Movie Classics

[4] – Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun Times, published March 3, 1989.

[5] – Vincent Canby for The New York Times, published March 12, 1989.

[6] – The Unruly Life of Woody Allen by Marion Meade

[7] – Woody on Woody In Conversation with Stig Bjorkman