12/28/1992 at 01:00 AM EST
In a few bitter weeks Last fall, director Woody Allen, victim of an irony more savage than any of his own devising, went from being America's most cherished neurotic genius to a man of darkened reputation and uncertain future. For 12 years, Allen, 57, had been involved with actress Mia Farrow, 46, in a relationship whose warmth and durability seemed to undercut the morose comic hopelessness that was his trademark. Allen even became the legal father of two of Farrow's adopted children as well as the natural father of his and Farrow's son, Satchel, now 5. Allen's coupling with Farrow was a sign of affirmation for much of his audience, which made the relationship's shattering end, with the announcement that Allen had been romancing Farrow's 19-year-old adopted daughter, Soon-Yi, all the more devastating. Then, a few headline-crazed days later, came the shocking accusation, still under investigation by Connecticut State Police, that Allen had sexually abused his adopted daughter, Dylan, now 7.
Allen furiously denied this. But as for Soon-Yi, he said in one interview, "The heart wants what it wants." For many of Allen's onetime fans, the statement had the ring less of philosophy than of cold self-indulgence—his heart had, after all, taken what it wanted at the cost of considerable anguish to Farrow and their shared family. Farrow, after presenting Allen last February with a knife-skewered valentine, went to court to deprive him of custody of their three children and recently signed to write her autobiography for $3 million.
None of this proved sufficiently titillating to lure audiences to the final Allen-Farrow collaboration, the purported movie à clef Husbands and Wives, in which Allen played a husband attracted to a much younger woman and Farrow played the wife who divorces him. But even as the film came and went, questions about Allen's integrity could not be so easily exorcised. In the movie's last scene, a weary Allen asks the camera, "Is this over?" Sorry, Woody; not yet.