By John H. Foote
Let me be clear…i believe the accusations leveled at Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis CK and many others but I struggle and always have with the allegations the Farrow family, specifically Dylan and Mia have made towards Woody Allen. 99% of the time I believe the woman, but there are too many holes in Farrow story to believe her. Her scorch the earth campaign against Allen has grown tiresome because she uses it to draw attention away from her shortcomings as a mother. Regular beatings? Children living in fear of her? Brainwashing? Banishment if you went against her? I believe Mia Farrow to be dangerous to her children, in fact, dangerously mentally ill.
Does it make sense that a man in the public eye, in his late fifties, never before charged or accused of child molestation would one day in 1992 drive to his ex-lovers home, where family members had been coaxed to hate him, where the maid despised him, that he would choose that day to coerce his seven-year-old daughter into the attic and assault her? Does that sound even remotely logical to you? A child who adored him, looked forward to his visits, loved his stories, often stood at the door waiting for him to arrive? Consider too, Allen is intensely claustrophobic, the attic would be an instant hell to him, and the many people at the home were watching him like a hawk, told not to leave him alone with the kids to ruin his visit. I too suffer from acute claustrophobia, cannot handle a blanket thrown over me, so I understand what an attic might do to him. But think about it! He arrives at a home filled with haters, filled with people who loathe him for hurting Mia, manages to sneak the little girl to the attic (though the location changed through the years) and assault her…does that make the slightest bit of sense to anyone? Would she not cry out, weep in pain, shame? Would she withdraw from him instantly? She did not. Only after Farrow reported the incident to her lawyer, not the police mind you, did Dylan push her father away.
Mia Farrow and Allen had been partners romantically for twelve years, not sharing a residence but sharing a life. Working together on films throughout the nineties, she became his new muse, and for the first time was taken seriously as an actress. After critical acclaim in Rosemary’s Baby (1968), her career stalled with uneven work, eventually a laughable performance as Daisy in The Great Gatsby (1974). With Allen, she found roles written for her and through the eighties gave an array of outstanding performances in Broadway Danny Rose (1984) for which she should have been Oscar nominated, The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and Crimes and Misdemeanours (1989). He was, during that period, by all accounts a father figure to her younger children but never Soon-Yi as it was made clear from the beginning that Previn was her father.
In the months leading up to the day of the alleged assault on Dylan, Mia Farrow had discovered some compromising photographs of her adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, then nineteen, in Woody Allen’s sock drawer. Allen confessed to an affair, and by all accounts, Farrow turned her furious wrath on Allen, and he has been scrutinized and investigated ever since. Four months after confessing to the affair, four months after Mia attacked Soon-Yi, four months after threatening Allen and his sister with something worse than death, this alleged assault took place, she says. Two states found no evidence of sexual assault, there was not a shred of physical evidence, and in the beginning, Dylan Farrow denied her stepfather had touched her. It was only after Mia Farrow spent time alone with Dylan that her story evolved through the years. Her older brother Moses states he heard and saw Mia rehearsing Dylan with what to say, promising her a doll she wanted if she pleased her mother.
One month before finding those photos, before Allen admitted he was involved and in love with Soon-Yi, Farrow submitted a glowing letter of recommendation for Allen to adopt her children! She called him an attentive, loving, warm father figure, she made clear her love for him, his for her and the children, and theirs for him. One month later she was calling him day and night threatening him. She promised to ruin him, claiming she had something so horrific planned he would never recover. Could he have imagined the nightmare to come?
Child molestation is a horrific crime, one that should see the criminal jailed for life. Sadly the mere accusation of child molestation can become a stigma from which one never escapes. A child in The mid-west United States accused a school teacher of molestation, which he denied. There was no physical evidence, but the accusation by the nine-year-old was there. Ruined, he hung himself, only to have the child admit she had lied. I believe when such an accusation is made b a child we need to listen and take it very seriously, but how about all the facts? Every single one.
Woody Allen had been with Mia Farrow for more than a decade. She had done her best work onscreen for him in Broadway Danny Rose (1984) and Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), after never really finding herself as an actress in films such as The Great Gatsby (1974). Farrow had a reputation for getting involved with older men when she was very young, Frank Sinatra in the sixties, later Andre Previn and then Allen. She was known to be rather scattered, off the wall, even kooky, but some directors admired her acting. Allen was one of them.
He would help her raise her many adopted children, but at some point fell in love with Soon-Yi. Wrong? Certainly, it was immoral; a betrayal of Farrow but Soon-Yi was an adult, not a child. How about unfortunate; rather callous, but the heart certainly wants what the heart wants. That the two married, have been together twenty plus years and adopted two children makes clear it was hardly a mere affair. Woody Allen insists Soon-Yi is his soulmate and they certainly appear happy together twenty-five years later. Allen never asked Mia to marry him, they did not even share a residence, he had no interest in that, yet he did with Soon-Yi. But look deeper. If he was under any investigation as a child molester or sex offender, a predator of children of any kind if the adoption agency got even a hint of that, do you think he would have been permitted to adopt children, be in the presence of children, be a father to children? Being a public figure, the adoption agencies, governed by the state of New York would know everything about Allen, and they decided he was fit to adopt two children.
It should be known that Allen passed a lie detector while Farrow refused to take one and to this day never has. Allen volunteered to take the polygraph and the man who administered it saw no evidence of deception of any kind. It should be known that there was an exhaustive eight-month investigation into what Farrow claimed happened in the attic of her home outside New York, and not a single charge was laid. She would later attack Allen for taking four-year-old Dylan into bed with him and Mia, while all were in their underwear! When my daughters were three through six, they would often come upstairs to my wife and me, and without hesitation, I would plunk their little bodies between us and the three of us would sleep till morning. I was in my shorts, my wife wore a nightie, the girls wore pajamas, so am I suspected of wrongdoing? Fathers by the millions do the exact same thing without molestation on the mind. Your child comes in through the night, you pick them up and put them in bed with you. Millions of fathers around the globe have done that very thing without the thought of molestation in mind.
As Dylan Farrow grew, her brother Moses escaped the Farrow family home and confessed that Mia brainwashed the children against Allen, convinced Dylan that Allen had assaulted her, and if any of the children defied her, they were beaten or estranged from her. As she created a world where her approval was essential to their living, it was difficult to defy her, but Moses did. He speaks openly that Farrow verbally crucified Allen every chance she got, paid attention to the release dates of his films so another attack could be launched, and if the film was the least bit successful, the attack was more ruthless.
Allen has always enjoyed younger women, just as Chaplin did before him, Sinatra did before him, Eddie Murphy does today. Chaplin often got into trouble for his dalliances with very young women, teenagers sometimes with the studio left to clean up his mess. With no gossip magazines, no news, no internet, he came through relatively unscathed but everyone knew what was going on. One should ask why the longtime friends of Allen, Diane Keaton, Dianne Weist, Michael Caine, Tony Roberts, Alex Baldwin have stood by him through the relentless attacks on his character.
Recently Natalie Portman turned on him after her controversial comments at the Golden Globes commenting in a condescending manner about the all-male directing category. If Portman who has worked with Allen knows something she should come forward but I suspect she is going with instinct and what she has heard, or she has actively joined this witch hunt. Jumping in with her has been Greta Gerwig, Colin Firth, the sanctimonious Reese Witherspoon (who has never worked with Allen), Ellen Page, Timothee Chalamet and more to come out of the woodwork. Is it fashionable to slam Allen? Seems so. These actors were more than pleased working with him, yet now are on the attack which all seems pretty gutless to me. There is no doubt Harvey Weinstein is guilty, no doubt Kevin Spacey and Louis CK are guilty, but Allen? There are doubt, huge, lingering doubts.
Through the writing of Moses Farrow, now a family therapist, we have learned Mia Farrow was a violent, often abusive tyrant in her home, demanding fierce loyalty from her children. If not she was prone to slapping, throwing things or worse, ignoring them. So dependent were they on her approval, of course, they would lie for her. Moses recalls hearing Mia coaching Dylan, telling her what to say, he recalls her wanting a doll, being told no, but this doll appearing after she had done her mothers bidding. Mia lived in terror of anyone finding out how she mothered her brood because she presented an image of being Mother Earth. The question is, did she convince Dylan to lie, or worse did she convince that little girl Allen had assaulted her? There was no physical evidence of any assault, and remember Dylan initially denied the accusations against Allen. Soon-Yi spoke of Farrow’s blistering temper recalling how “she chose someone and picked on them, they became the target of her wrath.” Yes, it must have been devastating to learn that Allen and Previn were lovers, it must have gutted and humiliated her. Her reaction has been to attempt to ruin him, using her children as pawns in a carefully played game.
Kids lie. They will lie to protect themselves and they will lie for approval, and in her house the approval of Mia Farrow was paramount. I believe Dylan and Mia are lying, however, to be clear, I also believe Dylan no longer knows she is lying as it has drilled into her head since she was seven. Even the investigators commented her recollection of the events was far too detailed, polished and perfect to be the memories of a child, and had the sense of being recited. In addition, facts changed about her story through the early years and if Mia war present during the questioning, Dylan often looked to her mother for approval.
Well, she has it, but at what cost? If she is lying, and really only Allen, Dylan and Farrow know the truth, then she has been a pawn in a vicious game of retribution, escalating it with each critically acclaimed film Allen makes, managing to keep it in the public eye. Should it ever come out she is telling the truth, I will be the first to apologize, but I do not buy it. To me, it is unforgivable that Mia Farrow has dedicated her life, and apparently the lives of her children to manufacturing a lie to get back at Allen for a betrayal. Yes, he was wrong, Soon Yi was wrong, but it is not like it was a sexual fling because they married, they built a life, adopted children, and as a couple has thrived. Mia was left with her anger and rage, waiting for opportunities to attack Allen yet again, Dylan forever her accomplice and pawn.
They are the very reason the #MeToo movement makes me nervous, the reason it could so easily turn into a witch hunt. There are enough victims to suggest that Weinstein and Spacey are guilty, but just two women, an unstable, vindictive mother, and impressionable daughter have accused Woody Allen. No one else. Are pedophiles or abusers of children not serial in their nature, do they not seek out more victims? Their thirst more is unquenchable is it not? No one, not a single person has ever accused Allen of anything of the kind again. Yet again the Farrows are speaking out and at the height of the MeToo movement, some have joined their voices. With no evidence that Woody Allen did wrong, in fact, quite the opposite, lengthy investigations stating he was innocent, they have persisted, and now with guilt by accusation rampaging it’s way through this industry, the Farrows have important actors siding with them, claiming suddenly that they believe Dylan Farrow, and thereby believe Mia. Why? And why now? But then why has always been the question when discussing the Allen-Farrow nightmare. So many whys. Why would Allen, in his late fifties suddenly become an abuser of children? Why were the police not called at once? Why have the Farrows persisted with their accusations when evidence showed no assault had taken place?
I believe Allen is innocent and with that belief in mind, I ask the following.
Mia Farrow fancies herself a good mother, a true Mother Earth nurturing type. If she is lying about Allen abusing her child, and the evidence certainly suggests she has been less than truthful, what kind of mother is she really? What kind of human being is she? And Dylan, who initially had no memory of any assault, what about her? Obviously, Mia is to blame for implanting the idea and details but at what point should Dylan has realized these events did not transpire? What is a just punishment for Mia Farrow for what she has done for more than twenty years? Is there a suitable punishment?
If it comes out that Allen is innocent, suddenly the MeToo movement gets trivialized by Farrow, both of them and their claims. I hope they will spend as much time restoring Allen’s reputation as they did tearing him down.
My gut tells me I am right, but if not I will be the first to say so, apologize and write a full retraction.
But I think I am right.
And I know I am not alone in thinking such. An accusation does not mean guilt. Did we learn nothing from Salem 1692 or McCarthyism?
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.