I like a lot of Woody Allen’s movies. Black and white or in color. Comedy or drama. He’s made a lot of movies and a good number of them are good to great.
I recently watched one I had been meaning to get to but for one reason or another hadn’t: Broadway Danny Rose. Release in 1984, it was the follow-up to Zelig (a personal favorite of mine). It’s a good one with a lot of great things about it that you would never get the opportunity to see if you didn’t watch this movie.
The movie is framed by this group of comedians telling stories inside the hallowed walls of the Carnegie Deli in Midtown Manhattan (closed since 2016). They get on the subject of Danny Rose (Allen) who is a 5th rate talent agent whose clients include a guy that makes balloon animals, an ice skating penguin dressed as a rabbi, and a lady that plays music on glasses filled with water. Danny’s best client is Lou Canova (Nick Apollo Forte), a 3rd rate womanizing lounge singer with a drinking problem.
Rose runs into Milton Berle on a streetcorner and convinces him to watch Canova sing at the Waldorf Astoria. Berle agrees that if he likes what he sees he will hire him as his opening act.
Rose’s problems arise in the form of Tina (Mia Farrow), Canova’s sidepiece that happens to have a jealous mobster ex-boyfriend. Unknowingly, Rose agreed to act as a “beard” to Tina so Canova’s wife doesn’t catch on to the affair. The mobster, believing the relationship to be real, puts out a hit on Danny.
The rest of the movie involves Tina and Rose on the run from a bunch of 2nd rate hitmen that takes the pair all over Manhattan and northern New Jersey while trying to make it to the Waldorf to see Canova perform. One of the best lines involves the pair wandering around marshland in New Jersey, lost. Rose mutters –
“God, I never saw so many reeds in my life. I feel like Moses”.
Earlier I mentioned the movie gives you an opportunity to see you normally couldn’t anywhere else. A prime example of this is a scene in the warehouse where the balloons from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are house. Rose and Tina are getting shot at by gangsters and there’s the huge Underdog balloon in the background. It’s surreal, dreamlike, and very cool.
The standout performance of the movie Farrow’s Tina, who gets lost in the role compliments of a pair of huge sunglasses that she wears for pretty much her entire screentime. The wardrobe was a big part of that admittedly, but her acting was also terrific. I never once “saw” Farrow, only Tina.
Overall I would recommend this movie. It moves at a brisk pace, is funny, and has some neat things you won’t see in any other movie.