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Radio Days [DVD]
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A series of vignettes depicting life in 1940s New York, a time of recession in which the radio played an important role in people's lives. Woody Allen focuses upon a chaotic family in Brooklyn, contrasting their struggles with the lives of the radio stars who live uptown.
Woody Allen's gentlest and most unassuming movie, Radio Days isn't so much a story as a series of anecdotes loosely linked together by a voice-over spoken by the director. The film is strongly autobiographical in tone, presenting the memories of a young lad Joe (clearly a stand-in for Allen himself) growing up in a working-class Jewish family in the seafront Brooklyn suburb of Rockaway during the late 1930s and early 40s. In this pre-TV era the radio is ubiquitous, a constant accompaniment churning out quiz shows, soap operas, dance music, news flashes and Joe's favourite, the exploits of the Masked Avenger. Given Allen's well-publicised gallery of neuroses, you might expect childhood traumas. But no, everything here is rose-tinted and even the outbreak of war makes little impact on the easygoing, protective tenor of family life.
Now and then Allen counterpoints his family album with the doings of the radio folk themselves (blink, and you'll miss a young William H Macy in the studio scene when the news of Pearl Harbour comes through). The rise to fame of Sally (Mia Farrow), a former night-club cigarette girl turned crooner, is the nearest the film comes to a coherent storyline. But most of the time Allen is content to coast on a flow of easy nostalgia, poking affectionate fun at the broadcasting conventions of the period and basking in the mildly rueful Jewish humour and small domestic crises of Joe's extended family. There aren't even any of his snappy one-liners, and the humour is kept low-key, raising at most an indulgent smile. A touch of Allen's usual acerbity wouldn't have come amiss. But for anyone who shares these memories, Radio Days will surely be a delight.
On the DVD: Not much besides the theatrical trailer, scene menu and a choice of languages. The screen's the full original ratio, but nothing seems to have been done to enhance the soundtrack, and the dialogue's not always clear. A boost in volume may help.--Philip Kemp
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Top Customer Reviews
It's a lavish production and director Woody Allen really sets up the atmosphere in this his love letter to the old glourious days of radio.
The movie is very short for an Allen film, scraping to just over 80 mins, but there is plenty to enjoy here. The dialogue as ever in an Allen film is top drawer.
For the film itself, Allen had the plot and this could well have been a two or three hour epic, perhaps following the young boy through his years. It stops well short of that, and ends quite suddenly. It would be easy for the passing viewing to wave this effort off with 3 stars. However if you're a fan of Allen's best work and indeed if you yourself remember those radio days then this is wonderful stuff.
One cannot see in say 50 years time, a director reminisicng over his family watching SKY TV, and that is the huge difference between the quality that Radio Days can provide and the me me me generation of today.
The nostalgia of the 1930’s simply flows from the screen and pours over you – the whole thing is so very atmospheric, but also a superb feast for the eyes. It captures those ageless fashions when tailors were tailors! I just love the men’s & women’s fashions of the 20’s, 30’s & 40’s. The film won BAFTAS for Costume design & Production design. You are simply transported to that age – with the sets, the clothes and the music – Cole Porter and a lot of the big bands / orchestras of the period, there are 45 short tracks in the film!
The film is one of Allen’s more ‘Jewish’ films and it flows with his great little sketches and wonderful humour - the local kids nick Mum’s teeth and play hockey with them, as they haven’t a puck, and they’re about the right size!
Mia Farrow plays one of her best cameo roles for Woody Allen here, and looks just great, and rather sexy have I have to say - as the ‘cigarette seller,-a la ‘Trixie,’ from the ‘Rocky Horror Show.’ The way the film is screened as a 'life at home' period piece also reminded me of Terrence Davies, ‘Distant Voices, Still Lives.’ Like a few Woody films, this one barely broke even and yet it's possibly a lot of people's favourite 'WA' film?
I have Just one disappointment! This classic is out on Bluray in America.. But not here …(hears head thumping against a wall and a mature male crying!)
Radio Days is Woody Allen’s Amarcord, a gloriously sentimental series of vignettes from the golden age of radio that formed the background to his childhood years in the 40s, be it drama, music, gossip or adventure shows. It’s the kind of film that’s at once highly episodic yet flows beautifully, anchored by the hopes, dreams and petty arguments (“You’re telling me the Atlantic is a better ocean than the Pacific?”) of Allen’s family – Michael Tucker’s father who never says what he does for a living, Julie Kavner’s mother who never lets him forget she could have married Sidney Slotkin but loves him anyway, Dianne Wiest’s aunt who dreams of being married but keeps on meeting Mr Wrong, the young Allen (Seth Green) who’ll turn to crime to afford a Masked Avenger Secret Compartment Ring as well as assorted relatives. There’s a huge ensemble cast of past and sometimes future members of Allen’s stock company and character players - Mia Farrow’s cigarette girl, Tony Roberts’ quiz show host, Diane Keaton’s singer, Jeff Daniels’ actor as well as Danny Aiello, Robert Joy, Kenneth Mars, Wallace Shawn, Mike Starr, Tito Puente, Larry David, Lee Erwin, Kitty Carlisle, Mercedes Ruehl, Larry David and many more – almost all of whom get to make an impression no matter how brief their screen time.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When I first saw Radio Days in the cinema on first release in 1987 I thought it light and inconsequential, an overly nostalgic and indulgent Woody Allen film which fell beneath the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Film Buff
I like it but that amount of Family Violence displayed and acted is unbelievable that this movie is politically correct.Published 4 months ago by Zdenek Hanzlik
A rambling, episodic hymn to the delights of the radio, giving Allen plenty of scope to indulge in his usual angst-ridden musings on sex, family, guilt, duty and growing-up. Read morePublished 17 months ago by R. S. Everatt
Very funny and the music was wonderful Woody always gets background music it was a very happy film and I really enjoyed it..Published on 29 Jun. 2014 by Mrs Marie Elton