Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Broadway Danny Rose

Written, directed, and starring Woody Allen, Broadway Danny Rose is the story of a talent manager who is caught up in a world of trouble when he tries to retrieve his client‘s mistress from New Jersey only to get in trouble with the mob. The film explores the complications of love as well as a man’s desire to help out his client despite the fact that he’s sort of incompetent as Allen plays the titular character. Also starring Mia Farrow and Nick Apollo Forte. Broadway Danny Rose is a zany yet heartfelt comedy from Woody Allen.

The film is about this very caring yet somewhat incompetent talent manager who is always trying to do his best for the people he’s working for. Many of which are eccentric talent acts who don’t really get a lot of gigs and are sort of bad at what they do. One of them is a has-been lounge singer named Lou Canova (Nick Apollo Forte) who is playing at clubs as he’s got nowhere to go until the nostalgia crazes emerges where he’s on his way to a comeback that would culminate with a show opening for Milton Berle. Yet, in order for the show to be successful, Lou asks Danny Rose to get his mistress Tina Vitale (Mia Farrow) from New Jersey to attend the show but problems ensues involving jealous lovers and the Mafia as a lot of hilarity and strange moments ensue. All of which is told by a group of comedians eating at the Carnegie Deli in New York City.

Woody Allen’s screenplay creates a very unique narrative where these seven comedians are eating and chatting about everything as they tell the story about Danny Rose. A guy who is devoted to his clients in getting them gigs but they’re always something about them that never clicks with the audience as one of them is the worst ventriloquist in the world while another is a one-legged tap dancer. Then there’s Lou Canova who is this washed-up lounge singer who had his 15 minutes of fame in the 1950s as he is someone who sings standards to make a living until he gets a chance for the comeback that he’s craving for. Danny is hoping that Lou’s comeback would be great despite the fact that Lou is an egotistical and selfish drunk who can ruin things. Especially as Lou is married with kids as he’s also having an affair with this interior decorator from New Jersey.

Tina is a very unique woman who loves Lou but also can’t stand him sometimes as she is always go to a fortune teller for help to help guide her in life but there often complications. Notably as she hangs around with various people in New Jersey including a man who was an ex-boyfriend of Tina who accuses him of being with Danny which turns out to be a misunderstanding. The second act becomes about Danny and Tina as they become this unlikely pair who don’t really care for each other yet both realize their worth to Lou. There are some comical moments that happens as it does culminate with Lou’s comeback show in the third act but it’s later followed by some heartbreaking revelations that relates to Danny and his devotion to Lou.

Allen’s direction is quite straightforward in terms of the compositions he creates yet he does manage to maintain that sense of timelessness in his imagery. Notably as the film is shot in black-and-white where Allen does create something that is kind of magical but also engaging. Some of the compositions like the close-up of minor characters and such definitely recalls the work of Federico Fellini. There’s also moments where Allen’s approach to humor is quite subtle but also presented in some moments of silliness that involves a chase scene inside a parade storage building involving helium. There’s also some visually-striking moments that Allen creates while keeping the scenes in the deli low-key and intimate. The material in the third act is quite sobering not just in what happens to Danny Rose but also how it would play into Tina’s relationship with Lou. Overall, Allen creates a very mesmerizing yet entertaining film about loyalty and adventure.

Cinematographer Gordon Willis does brilliant with the film‘s black-and-white cinematography where it has this gorgeous look for many of the exterior scenes in New York City and New Jersey along with some usage of striking shadows for some of the film‘s interiors. Editor Susan E. Morse does excellent work with the editing to create a few montages as well as some rhythmic cuts for the film‘s funnier moments. Production designer Mel Bourne and set decorator Leslie Bloom do terrific work with the set pieces from the look of Danny’s apartment to the places in New Jersey.

Costume designer Jeffrey Kurland does wonderful work with the clothes including Tina‘s more stylish look to play up her fierce persona. Sound editor Dan Sable does nice work with the sound to create some of the atmosphere of the club scenes as well as more crazier moments at a party scene where Danny gets into some big trouble over a misunderstanding. Music supervisor Dick Hyman brings in a very sensational soundtrack that is filled with some very upbeat Italian-based music for some of the humor while using some standards for the songs that Lou sings including a couple of originals written by Nick Apollo Forte.

The casting by Juliet Taylor is superb for the ensemble that is created that includes appearances from Milton Berle, Sammy Davis Jr., and Howard Cosell as themselves plus Edwin Bordo as Tina’s ex-boyfriend, Paul Greco and Frank Renzulli as the brothers of Tina’s ex, Herb Reynolds as the worst ventriloquist ever, and Gerald Schoenfeld as the revered talent manager Sid Bacharach. In the roles of the comedians at the deli, there’s Jack Rollins, Howard Storm, Will Jordan, Morty Gunty, Jackie Gayle, Sandy Baron, and Corbett Monica as they are just fun to watch as they tell this story about Danny Rose.

Nick Apollo Forte is excellent as Lou Canova as a man who still thinks he’s a star though is aware that his career is on the downswing until he catches on a nostalgia wave as he becomes intent on making his comeback. Mia Farrow is amazing as Tina Vitale as Lou’s mistress who is very fiery and street-smart as she and Danny try to avoid the mob while is someone who is a talented interior decorator but doesn’t carry much confidence. Finally, there’s Woody Allen in a wonderful performance as the titular character as a talent manager who is trying to do everything he can for his clients while dealing with the chaos of Lou’s life with Tina as he gets himself in trouble where it’s Allen being funny.

Broadway Danny Rose is a marvelous film from Woody Allen that features terrific supporting performances from Mia Farrow and Nick Apollo Forte. It’s a film that plays into the world of talent and one man’s attempt to do everything for that person. It’s also a comical film that displays Allen’s unique approach to humor while adding a sense of visual style to make it very engaging. In the end, Broadway Danny Rose is a fantastic film from Woody Allen.

Woody Allen Films: What's Up Tiger Lily? - Take the Money & Run - Bananas - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) - Sleeper - Love and Death - Annie Hall - Interiors - Manhattan - Stardust Memories - A Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy - Zelig - The Purple Rose of Cairo - Hannah & Her Sisters - Radio Days - September - Another Woman - New York Stories: Oedipus Wrecks - Crimes & Misdemeanors - Alice - Shadows & Fog - Husbands & Wives - Manhattan Murder Mystery - Don’t Drink the Water - Bullets Over Broadway - Mighty Aphrodite - Everyone Says I Love You - Deconstructing Harry - Celebrity - Sweet & Lowdown - Small Time Crooks - The Curse of the Jade Scorpion - Hollywood Ending - Anything Else - Melinda & Melinda - Match Point - Scoop - Cassandra’s Dream - Vicky Cristina Barcelona - Whatever Works - You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - Midnight in Paris - To Rome with Love - Blue Jasmine - Magic in the Moonlight - Irrational Man - (Cafe Society)

The Auteurs #24: Woody Allen Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3 - Pt. 4

© thevoid99 2013


John Gilpatrick said...

I liked this one...perhaps a little less than you? I thought the structure was cool but that it set us up for a story greater and more epic than the one that's told. That said, for the time period, this was atypical Woody Allen in that the story itself wasn't something crazy and out there. I can see myself revisiting Broadway Danny Rose and maybe finding more there to appreciate.

thevoid99 said...

It's somewhere in the middle of my list at the moment though I do think it's a bit below with some of his work in the early 80s but still a fun one.