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BROADWAY DANNY ROSE

USA, 1984 (MIFF 1984)

Director: Woody Allen

Is it possible for a movie to be deeply nostalgic and hilariously funny at the same time? Woody Allen's latest proves it can be done. He plays the title role of a vaudeville agent-manager who is the subject of the reminiscences of seven comedians sitting around the Carnegie Deli one afternoon commiserating about present woes and past good times.The mention of Broadway Danny Rose provokes instant merriment and a rush of anecdotes.

Danny really was something from another era: an incorrigibly tacky, fast-talking operator—but good-natured; he cared, he really cared. Yet somehow he never seemed to get the time, the place and the client together. But then what can you expect from a guy whose clients included a blind xylophonist, a roller skating penguin and a one-legged tap dancer?

Like a parody of Damon Runyon, the film creates pungent, bitter sweet period flavour of old Broadway, with its seedy promoters, hustling hopefuls, scruffy has-beens, hucksters, tootsies and fall-guys. This was the state of things when Woody Allen himself was starting out as a Jewish stand-up comic. "Broadway Danny Rose" boasts a constellation of zany characters, not the least of whom is a marvellously transformed Mia Farrow's portrayal of Tina Vitale, a floozie with a heart of brass ("My trouble is I like my work and I think it's ugly").

In keeping with the nature of his film—it's as if Bob Hope were playing Citizen Kane—Allen comes close to being a straight man, a foil for all the mad figures who swirl around him.

Production company: Orion Pictures Distribution: Roadshow

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