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Broadway Danny Rose [Blu-ray]
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A small but perfectly-formed comedy-drama about Broadway legend Danny Rose (Woody Allen) not a star but perhaps the most hapless agent ever to work in the profession, whose no-hope clients include piano-playing parrots, blind jugglers, one-legged tap dancers and stuttering ventriloquists.
Things change dramatically when an unexpected lounge-music craze threatens to make cheesy crooner Lou Canova (Nick Apollo Forte) both famous and successful, a situation that natural loser Danny is helplessly ill-equipped to deal with. He proves similarly hapless when Lou turns out to have a mistress (an unrecognisable Mia Farrow) whose mobster ex-boyfriend is none too impressed with the company that she s currently keeping and decides to advertise this fact at the worst possible moment.
Both laugh-out-loud funny and warmly nostalgic, Broadway Danny Rose is Allen s heartfelt tribute to the days of New York vaudeville that he himself experienced first-hand when starting out as a comedian two decades earlier underscored by the fact that the Greek chorus of Broadway veterans chuckling over Danny s various mishaps and misfortunes are the real thing.
Broadway Danny Rose is vintage Woody Allen. Danny (Allen) is a down-at-heel theatrical agent whose regular clients include talking bird acts and a man who twists balloons into animal shapes. His faith in these eccentrics never fails, despite the fact that everyone leaves him for another agent in the end. Complications ensue when one of his clients, an overweight crooner, starts a romance with a mafia widow (excellently played by Allen's partner of the time, Mia Farrow). The mob think Danny is her boyfriend, forcing the two of them to take evasive action, at one point dodging bullets among giant floats for a forthcoming Fourth of July parade. The script is witty, the acting superb, the situations inventive. The film is shot in black and white and looks superb for it.
On the DVD: The DVD is widescreen, with extremely clear sound so you won't miss a single wisecrack. Dialogue is available in French, German, Italian and Spanish as well as English. It's a pity, however--since the film is so short (84 minutes)--that there are no extras apart from the theatrical trailer. --Ed Buscombe --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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It has always been a strength of Allen's that his characters can still draw you in, even if they are fundamentally unlikeable or shallow. This fits in well with the bittersweet tone of 'Broadway Danny Rose' that has a ominous message of lost hope and dreams behind the humour. The final scene between Allen and Farrow at Rose's squalid flat is one of the best I have ever seen, with hardly a word passing from their lips and still managing to make you ache with a contrast of feeling. The banter of the coffee shop comedians is also a clever touch, with Rose clearly considered an example of failure, yet is spoken of with warmth and appreciation.
For me, this film is a meditation on ambition and the repercussions of chasing your dreams. No-one gets what they want, in the way that they want it but all are affected in the pursuit of something better.
The film is structured as a christian metaphor: some comedians gather together to eat while they remeber the times and works of the most extravagant manager ever. To round this religious meaning, even a sandwich in that eating place is called Danny Rose.
What makes this film so charming is its lack of pretensions. Woody slightly departs from his usual persona while Mia Farrow delivers one of her finest performances so far, in a role that had practically nothing to do with her. The story, too, is one of the warmest ones written by Woody, totally full of love for all the lesser comedians Danny Rose manages, and even comprehension for those who betray him when they achieve success. If you mix this with even a mafia subplot, what you get is one of the most complete Woody Allen's movies: wise jokes, tons of laughter, a moving ending, and all superbly photographed in glorious black and white by a Gordon Willis at the peak of his career.
A deceiving film. A masterpiece. Probably Woody's most intimate, delicate and beautiful picture. A must have
What make some of Woody Allen's films a bit lame, are the superfluous un-funny rants and dialogues which in this film are restrained and under control. The other thing that does not work in Woody Allen is the sloppy way he directs hard action chase sequences, again in this film these are done in an Italian style; this works well for me. I would even say this is actually Woody Allen's best film.
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