DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
BROADWAY DANNY ROSE (director/writer: Woody Allen; cinematographer: Gordon Willis; editor: Susan E. Morse; music: Nick Apollo Forte; cast: Woody Allen (Danny Rose), Mia Farrow (Tina Vitale), Nick Apollo Forte (Lou Canova), Craig Vandenburgh (Ray Webb), Herb Reynolds (Barney Dunn), Paul Greco (Vito Rispoli), Frank Renzulli (Joe Rispoli), Sandy Baron, Corbett Monica, Jackie Gayle, Morty Gunty, Will Jordan, Milton Berle (as themselves), Paul Greco (Vito Rispoli), Frank Renzulli (Joe Rispoli), Edwin Bordo (Johnny Rispoli), Gina DeAngelis (Johnny's Mother), Gerald Schoenfeld (Sid Bacharach), Tony Turca (Rocco), Sandy Richman (Teresa), Olga Barbato (Angelina); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Charles H. Joffe/Robert Greenhut; MGM Home Entertainment; 1984)

 
"It's a lovable Woody at the top of his game."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Woody Allen ("Sleeper"/"Love and Death"/"Manhattan") directs, writes and stars in this modest film that fits him to a tee. We're in Woody's showbiz milieu, and he comes through with a funny, warm, charming and perceptive comedy shot in black and white.

A close-knit group of old-time Borscht Belt comics (Sandy Baron, Corbett Monica, Jackie Gayle and Will Jordan, all played by themselves) meet in Manhattan's famed Carnegie Deli on Seventh Avenue to swap funny showbiz stories and get around to telling about the legendary big-hearted but small-time Broadway talent agent Danny Rose (Woody Allen). The boys all sadly laugh that the hapless Danny, a loser with no luck, gets dumped by his clients when they reach the Big Time, leaving him with the acts no one wants.

Danny's clients include a balloon twister, an inept hypnotist, a bird act, a wine-glass player, a blind xylophonist, a stuttering ventriloquist, and a promising has-been overweight Italian lounge singer, Lou Canova (Nick Apollo Forte), who's a boozer and an adulterer who had one hit song way back in the 1950s called "Agita." By some miracle Danny works magic on Lou so he makes a comeback, even getting Milton Berle to scout him at the Waldorf-Astoria for a possible TV spot on his special. But Lou is cheating on his wife Teresa (Sandy Richman) and has Danny act as a beard (pretending to be the boyfriend of Lou's mistress). Danny ventures to New Jersey to escort Lou's hot widow girlfriend Tina (Mia Farrow, almost unrecognizable in a blond wig, gaudy tight pants suit outfit and sunglasses while speaking Brooklynese) to the show. When Danny meets Tina's family and friends, he discovers she's connected with the Mafia through her executed former Mafia hubby and that certain gangland types at the gathering take unkindly that he's Tina's new lover. It seems Tina's engaged to one of their own and they think she left him for Danny. They want revenge on the guy who took away his girl, and the engaged man's Mafia enforcer brothers kidnap Danny and Tina. They escape through the Jersey Meadowlands after being left tied up in a Jersey City warehouse and hurry to catch the show. After putting his life on the line for Lou, such as getting him out of dives into the Big Time, holding his hand so that he can perform without having an anxiety attack and being his beard, Danny's told in the lobby of the Waldorf by the opportunistic and ungrateful slob that he wants to change managers.

What makes it work so well is that it all seems believable and natural, even if it's farfetched. It's a lovable Woody at the top of his game.

REVIEWED ON 8/1/2009       GRADE: A-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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