Story about Woody Allen's favorite typeface

Kitblog has a nice piece about Windsor-EF Elongated, the typeface Woody Allen uses in the titles of nearly all his movies. It includes screengrabs of lots of Allen movies that use white Windsor on black.
Picture 5-55 How did Woody Allen chose this typeface? In a previous iteration of this post, the mystery of Woody Allen’s typeface of choice was solved by this amazing story posted by Randy J. Hunt in the comments (thank you, Randy):

"I’m currently taking a typeface design course with Ed Benguiat, and just last night he described a time when he would have breakfast at the same New Jersey diner every morning. Among the other that would dine there was Woody Allen. On one occasion [between 1975 and 1977], referring to Benguiat as a 'printer,' Allen asked him what a good typeface was. Benguiat had an affinity for WINDSOR and suggested it to him that morning. He’s used it in every film since."

Link (Via Yesbutnobutyes)


  1. Everyone, I think, finds a typeface they ultimately stick with. Me, I can’t me get enough Centaur.

    My grandfather was a printer in San Francisco his whole life (the owner of Arion Press was an apprentice to him, for instance). The first typeface I could recognize — at about age 4 — was Centaur. Heck, my school lunch bags were printed in 60 pt Centaur.

    I still adore it, and my Centaur and Arrighi advertising broadside for Centaur monotype and linotype services, from my grandfather is one of favorite things.

    Appropos of nothing, except that this audience might enjoy it — broadsides included some long discussion of the type face or some other story — to give the potential customer a look at a finished product in the potential font. This broadside of mine includes this delightful little comment that tells me that even in the 1940s, folks didn’t want open access to everything:

    “Although a typefounder’s specimen sheet seems an odd place for Carl Purtington Rollins’ pungent comment on the availability of Centaur. I cannot refrain from referring to it here because of the implied challenge to its prosective users. I quote only part, ‘Mr. Rogers’ fine roman has now been cut for the monotype machine by the English house. This is a situation not at all commendable. One of te conditions of modern [1948-ed.] printing seems to be that every printer, anywhere, shall be able to buy any type face which exists, whether he knows how to use it or not. I am no believer in any kind of censorships, but I believe firmly in what James Truslow Adams has so recently pointed out in ‘Harper’s’ that which everyone can get too easily ceases to have value for anyone.'”

  2. Woody Allen appeared at a promotional screening of “Hollywood Ending” in Atlanta, 2002. He told us the reason he’s been using the same style of titles all of these years was due to money. He couldn’t see the value of budgeting, say, a hundred thousand dollars for an elaborate sequence when the simple titles did the job and looked nice enough.

  3. Comments on the article at Kit-blog have pointed out that the Woody Allen type is not actually Windsor EF Extended.

    I submitted (at about comment #14 there) some observations of a few obvious differences (thickness of the horizontal on A and the up-strokes on the W, the tail curl on the a) but my comment got dropped for some reason.

    I couldn’t provide the correct type variant, but now two other commenters have nominated Windsor EF Light Condensed as the most likely one.

  4. Caslon is my favorite for display text but nothing beats Baskerville for good solid block of text. It’s strong, simple, elegant and eye pleasing without being too showy. Garmond is nice as well but completely superfluous if you have Baskerville at hand. I even changed my open office preferences and set Baskerville as my default font instead of the horrible excretion that is Times New Roman.

    An aside: can anyone explain to me why the publishing industry still mandates Courier as the font for manuscripts? If I were an editor, I’d rather stick needle sin my eyes, monospaced or not.

  5. @ #6

    Because editors are pure evil. A real writer should know that.

    I work quite a bit with typefaces, and I must say Garamond is a close second to Times on the hackneyed scale. Bakserville always strikes me as old-fashioned, but I’ll take it over times any old day.

    I’ve been using the Stone family a lot lately. I’m so jadded with everything. I have 30,000 commercial fonts and can’t find any I feel comfortable with.

  6. To Keith, re: Courier for manuscripts:

    Partly I’m sure it’s just what they’re used to — any editor who’s been in the business more than twenty years cut their teeth on typewritten manuscripts, which were (obviously) monospaced, so they find them easier to read, annotate, etc. Obviously, you should send them whatever they ask for. That standard is slowly changing; there are a lot of places that don’t mind Times nowadays.

    There are good reasons for wanting a monospaced font, though — it makes it easy to calculate page counts, for one thing. A line of 12-pt. Courier is always going to have about the same number of characters, and each page will have about the same number of lines, modulo paragraph ends and dialogue; editors have quick-and-dirty formulae they use to turn a manuscript into a published book in their heads. Courier also leaves plenty of space for edits — if you leave out a leter, there’s enough room to mark it in Courier, whereas Times likes to eat up white space.

    I’m sure (the apparently evil) TNH can shed more light than I can — I cribbed the bulk of this post from what she and other editors have posted online, on Usenet and other places.

  7. My favourite typeface for printed matter is probably Robert Zapf’s Optima aka Zapf Humanist. Classy, eclectic and a joy to read.

  8. The font is first used, white on black of course, in “Sleeper” (1973). Norman Gorbaty designed the titles for that film, as well as the earlier “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask” and “Bananas.”

    I’ve always assumed the use of the font in “Sleeper” was an intended one-off, meant to jibe with the old-fashioned jazz and slapstick that run through the film, but that Woody liked the look so much he brought it back again and again until it became a fixture.

    Note that the title cards never fade in or out or scroll. They just flash in, flash out. Cheapest way to go, and the cards can be synced up nicely with whatever jaunty song he’s opening with.

    At this point, that typeface is one of the few things about his films I enjoy unreservedly.

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