Woody Allen's films in my opinion range from tedious and boring to classic and brilliant. Husbands and Wives is one of the worst: a Bergman-like attempt to make a slow-paced study of intimate relationships which comes across as pretentious rather than insightful. The use of a documentary-like hand held camera (at least it looks like it is) apparently in an attempt to add realism I found just added irritation. Chalk this one up to experiment.
The Flame and the Arrow is a classic Saturday matinee swashbuckler that doesn't try or pretend to be anything else, and as such it's one of the best of its genre. This 1950 technicolor feature rises above B status because of its incisive direction by Jacques Tourneur, a veteran Hollywood genre film maker best remembered for the noir classic Out of the Past and the horror classic Cat People, and also because of the spectacular athletics of an astonishingly youthful Burt Lancaster. There's also an effective sound track by major film composers Max Steiner; Virginia Mayo as the love interest stands around very prettily, which is about all you expect the female love interest in a movie like this to do. It's the sort of film you might have thought was the best movie ever made when you were fifteen years old, and can still enjoy fifty years later.
One of Woody Allen's best films, Radio Days is a lovingly detailed and authentic portrait of a 1940s childhood in Rockaway Beach, NY, cleverly built around memories of the popular music of the day, which was universally listened to on the radio. The conceit works, and the result is one of Allen's least neurotic, least pretentious, and funniest works. It's interesting that it's a thoroughly Woody Allen movie in which Allen doesn't actually appear, though he does a running voice-over. I'd recommend it even to people who don't usually like Allen movies.
Akira Kurosawa's Dreams is a melding of autobiography, zen philosophy, Noh drama, Japanese folklore, and modern anxieties about nuclear and ecological doom. It is a masterpiece by a genius director, and one of cinema's great studies in color (comparable only so far as I can think of to two much happier films, Renoir's French Cancan and Minelli's An American in Paris.) Some people have complained about the film's long periods of little or no action, an apparently simplistic morality, inaccurate science, non-realistic dance sequences, and obviously artificial special effects, not understanding that all these elements are quite deliberate stylistic features consciously employed to devastating effect by a master film maker in total control of his medium. If you don't understand this when you see it, keep watching it again and again until you do understand it.
Shadows and Fog, one of Woody Allen's best films, is a successful experiment in combining Kafka-like surrealism (Orson Welles' The Trial seems like a clear influence,) typical Allen neurotic comedy, and film noir. The film overcomes its influences to make a profound statement about the human predicament in a way that is not at all pretentious. Allen stars as Max Kleinman (Max = big, Kleinman = small person,) a skittish coward who is drafted by local vigilantes in a plan to catch a murderer (Lang's M is also a clear influence,) but ends up wandering around in a literal and existential fog complaining, "I can't find out my role in the plan." The excellent black and white photography is just right for the mood. The movie gains extra interest from a number of star cameos, including Madonna, Lily Tomlin, John Malkovich, and Jody Foster.