“He adored Windsor-EF-Elongated. He idolised it out of all proportion.” Uh, no. Make that, “He romanticised it out of all proportion.” Oh, and it might have been a heavier weight of EF Windsor Light Condensed rather than EF Elongated.
In case you’re wondering, we’re talking typefaces here, and, specifically, the one Woody Allen has used in the titles of most of the films he has directed, including his latest, You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger.
Windsor is a playful display face with heavy rounded serifs designed by Elisha Pechey in 1905 for the Sheffield type foundry Stephenson, Blake. Times New Roman it ain’t. It’s the kind of typeface you might have expected to have seen in adverts pasted on to the sides of buildings in London or New York a century ago. Today it announces Woody Allen as surely as Johnston type does the London Underground.
The story goes that Allen was looking for a typeface for Love and Death (1975). At the time he ate breakfast in the same New Jersey diner as Ed Benguiat, the great American typographer (and jazz percussionist), who recommended Windsor. Allen liked it, and that was that. Windsor became a signature of his films, along with old jazz tunes, thick-framed specs, fast-paced dialogue and neurosis.
Well, not quite that. You may or may not be surprised to learn that there are websites that discuss Allen’s choice of Windsor in the kind of detail that’s as intense as his scripts. Did Sleeper beat Love and Death in the Windsor stakes? Which is it really – Elongated or Light Condensed? What’s certain is that Allen has used Windsor in at least 36 of his 46 films. He clearly adores Windsor as much as he does New York.