Broadway Danny Rose (1984) Poster

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Charm to spare
andrew725 January 2002
If there's one thing that almost all of Woody Allen's comedies have in common, it's charm. Few have more of it than Broadway Danny Rose. Not Allen's best, not his funniest, but this warm and sentimental film grabs the viewer immediately and never lets up.

This is accomplished, initially, by the extremely naturalistic dialogue between the comics whose reminiscences form the bulk of the film. Notice how they all talk at once, they cut each other off, and they trample all over each other's lines. We really feel like we're listening in on a diner conversation, rather than watching a theatrical performance of a diner conversation. This gives the film an initial boost of accessibility.

This "charm factor" is cemented once we meet Danny Rose. Now, many people criticize Allen as an actor, claiming that he only ever plays one character... himself. This is absolute rubbish, and "Broadway Danny Rose" proves it. I have never seen Allen play a character so kind, warm, and accepting as Danny Rose. It was quite a pleasant surprise. Danny has to be that good, though, in order for us to accept that Tina is haunted by her betrayal of him.

That denouement, by the way, was really touching. The Thanksgiving scene took a good, funny, enjoyable movie and made it something a little more special. Compare this to the gross-out comedies of today... how many modern comedies can be as funny as "Broadway Danny Rose," and yet still create characters so real and so sympathetic that moments like the Thanksgiving scene can work?

I try not to harp on about how funny Allen's comedies are, because you either like his humor or you don't. If you like it, you don't need me to tell you it's funny, and if you don't, you won't believe me anyway. So why bother? I don't know, but I will say that this film had a good six or eight laugh out loud moments, at least, and it kept me smiling throughout.

Also, after a good debut in "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy" and a reduced, subdued role in "Zelig", this is the film where Mia Farrow really comes into her own as Allen's leading lady. For the first time, I don't miss Diana Keaton.
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Morality Play Disguised as Comedy
macpublish10 January 2003
Although a very funny film, Broadway Danny Rose is more of character study and philosophical morality play. This film explores the life and values of Danny Rose (played by Allen)--a theatrical talent manager. Although he appears to be a hapless loser, Rose is smart enough to know how to get ahead in his business (do it to others before they do it to you) but is prevented from acting thusly by his morality and his compassion for his clients--which he treats like family. He pours all his energy into his clients' careers only to be abandoned by them when they finally hit it big. In the course of an "adventure" with the hard-bitten Farrow, his values imperceptibly rub off on her and begin working on her conscious. Her moral conversion is completed when she seeks Rose's forgiveness at the much talked about Thanksgiving dinner--a scene not about pathetic losers but rather a study of fellowship, compassion, redemption, and forgiveness.

Allen and Farrow both give career performances. Nick Apollo Forte is absolutely wonderful. The casting, locations, directing, and performances could not be better. Every aspiring film maker should study this film as the perfect example of a powerful "little" film. Watch the film several times and you'll like it more each time. It is may favorite Woody Allen film (everything else is a distant second) and one of my favorite films of all time. The film's lack of commercial and critical success speaks volumes about the sensibilities and values of our society.
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Walking along the docks and reminiscing
Brandt Sponseller1 May 2005
Writer/director/star Woody Allen plays agent/manager Danny Rose in this funny, loving, nostalgic look at the lower and fringe rungs of the entertainment industry, combined with a mob subplot and not a little "philosophy of life" contemplation.

The film begins with a gaggle of older Borscht Belt-caliber comedians sitting around a table at Manhattan's Carnegie Deli, trading stories about Danny Rose. Rose loves acts that are a bit "outside" the mainstream, so there is no shortage of laughs from our storytellers as they remember his one-legged tap dancer, his blind xylophonist, and so on.

After about 10 minutes or so of general reminiscing interspersed with footage of Rose portraying the stories, one man says he's got the Rose story to top them all, which launches us into the "film proper". It's a tale about Rose and his client Lou Canova (Nick Apollo Forte), a Louis Prima-styled singer who had one hit, "Agita", in the 1950s, but who is a has-been when Rose meets him. Broadway Danny Rose is primarily the story of how Rose gets mixed up in a comically deteriorating situation with Canova's mistress, Tina Vitale (Mia Farrow), while trying to ensure that she attends a career-restoring gig, despite the fact that Canova's wife is also going to be there.

Allen treats us to some entertaining postmodernist layering in the beginning. It seems like a normal enough film in the first few moments, but quickly turns into almost a mock documentary as our deli comedians talk about Rose. The Rose material is really all flashback, and even when it "takes over" the film during the Canova story, it still has a mock documentary feel at first. Eventually the Canova story proceeds as any film would, but the bookended storytellers emphasize the nostalgic tone of the film.

Allen is drilling in that fact that we're reminiscing. He wants the audience to reminisce about the tone of the main story, even if they don't have personal memories of the era or that segment of the entertainment industry. For Allen, the film has strong resemblances to some aspects of his personal experience as an up and coming standup comedian, and he even draws parallels such as a Carnegie Deli sandwich being named after Danny Rose in the film--in real life, you can eat a sandwich named after Woody Allen at the Carnegie Deli. Having characters in the film reminisce about what turns out to be a reminiscent mode in a flashback helps audience members outside of the relevant "nostalgia zone" to get into the proper mood.

Interestingly for this goal, even though Allen goes to the trouble to shoot the film in black & white, he doesn't attempt to remove blatantly anachronistic elements--as if he's trying to remind us that this is still artificial reminiscing. For example, a scene that takes place in a Times Square office features a window through which we can see the large flashing "Fuji" sign. On the other hand, Allen also exploits the fact that Broadway Danny Rose was shot just as the recent family-friendly gentrification of the New York City area was taking hold, as there are important scenes on the old, dilapidated West Side docks and in a Jersey City that still looks comparatively like a barren wasteland.

One of the reasons that this film is so charming is that even though Danny Rose is a loser, he's a good-hearted loser with an admirable philosophy of life, despite the fact that he's continually abused and/or given the short shrift by those he helps. Allen is still doing his "neurotic Jew" schtick here, but whereas he tends to draw that character as self-centered in other films, in Broadway Danny Rose he's almost completely altruistic. He actually tries to persuade other characters, who happen to be self-centered, to change their outlooks. He's a Tod Browning to a cadre of performing freaks, promoting and embracing them, even if to most eyes it has to involve exploiting them at the same time. But he admirably can't help seeing the best in everyone, encouraging them and honestly believing that they should be in a "higher position" than they are now. He even does this with the non-performing Tina when she makes some decorating suggestions about his apartment--suddenly, he wants to manage an interior decorating career for her, saying that she should be doing "hotels and embassies".

As is typical for an Allen film, Broadway Danny Rose is filled with amazing, often symbolic cinematography, by frequent collaborator (from 1977's Annie Hall through 1985's The Purple Rose of Cairo) Gordon Willis. It's also full of great performances (including Allen's) and it's infused with Allen's trademark pre-bop jazz, in this case heavily depending on variations of the Prima-like "Agita", somewhat similar to how "In A Persian Market" was used as a theme in the later Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001).

If you like Allen's typical style, you've surely seen this film. If you're wondering where to start or dip into Allen's works further, Broadway Danny Rose is as good a place to begin as any.
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Woody "Light"? Think Again...!
dsanchez19 July 2000
Upon my initial viewing of "Broadway Danny Rose" ("BDR," as I will refer to it henceforth) when it opened in theaters back in 1984, I recall being somewhat disappointed at this seemingly frothy, light-weight film. Sometimes it takes additional viewings to truly appreciate the fine line between "light-weight" and "subtle." Coming off of the brilliant, sorely underappreciated "Zelig" -- and my first disappointing Allen film, "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy" -- I approached BDR with high-hopes. I left the theater feeling let-down at it's slapstick approach, esp. after Allen's "new" direction towards "serious" cinema. (I'm a devotee of his "Annie Hall"/post-"Annie Hall" films, as opposed to his "earlier, funny films.") How wrong was I in thinking I had seen something frivolous and trivial!

The absolute beauty of BDR not only comes from (once again) Gordon Willis' inspired chiaroscuro use of black & white photography and framing, Allen's hand-picked jazz score, succinct editing and crafty art direction, but mostly from its marvelous cast of actors -- most esp. Mia Farrow's astounding, beautifully wrought and precise performance. Upon subsequent viewings, her character's soul literally exudes through the epidermis! On top of that, the so-called "slapstick," which initially I viewed askance, turned-out to be far subtler than its initial impact. The right-on performances by BDR's numerous sub-characters also proved to be far more meaningful and poignant then initially viewed.

And, that ending.... What an ending! It has got to be one of the most heartbreaking and romantic finale's in screen history! (I say this with no hyperbole.) I have seen BDR more than two-dozen times, and it has never failed to bring me to tears (as did "Annie Hall," "Manhattan" and, his subsequent, "Hannah and Her Sisters"). The start of the scene (with Farrow's character confronting a heartbroken Allen) is pure beauty and poetry. The finale of Allen running after Farrow through the wet and rough-n-tumble streets of New York, and his (inaudible) "forgiveness" in front of the delicatessen, is nothing less than magical!

In sum, sometimes it takes a different "perspective" in looking at a piece of art to realize that there's much more there than meets the eye. Sort of like Diane Keaton's character in "Manhattan," as she pontificated with much zeal over the "textural" qualities of the "steel cube." Only this time, no pontification is needed: "Broadway Danny Rose" is pure, unadulterated romance through and through! This is a "must-see." Enjoy!
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Allen as an actor
christie50119 May 2004
One of the most commonly leveled criticisms against Woody Allen is that he has no range as an actor or is that he simply plays the same stammering intellectual in all of his films. Nothing could be further from the truth and this film is testament to this fact.

This beautifully shot film is concerned with theatrical agent, Danny Rose, a man who takes on blind xylophone players and one legged tap dancers. Terrible acts and yet Rose believes in every single one of them, no matter how badly they are doing. His big break comes with the public's newfound appetite for nostalgia, which brings egomaniac and alcoholic crooner, Lou Canova back into the public eye.

Canova flourishes and is set to make his comeback complete when he requires Rose to bring his mistress, Tina to the concert. Various complications and highjinks ensure that this is no easy task.

This is the comedy of the situation and the movie relies on this farce for its comic effect. However, what separates this from other sub-standard films is the characterisation that Allen brings to Rose. At first glance Rose is a loser, whose acts leave him as soon as they get anywhere. But the belief he has in his charges and the commitment he is prepared to put into them allows a great deal of empathy for him. Allen plays it brilliantly, allowing just the right amount of pathos and charm.

A splendid movie, full of the typical Allen one liners and with one very very funny shoot out scene with helium.
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Neither didactic nor facetious
the_mad_mckenna31 August 2002
This is my favorite Woody Allen movie. I think you can see the glee that he secretly has, playing the nebbishy Danny Rose, in his world of untalented types reaching for the stars. The Mobsters are almost like a preview for the Sopranos; the unexpected love story is sweet and charming. And it even has the return of Howard Cosell to a woody movie. I remember seeing this one in the Theatre when it was released - lines like "weinstein's majestic Bungalow colony" - and why that line is a side splitter - shows the fact that woody played this one close to the vest.

Barney Dunn!!!
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Compares to Chaplin's best
DonE-216 January 1999
This was never embraced as one of Woody Allen's best pictures, but it certainly ranks alongside Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters and Annie Hall, although it is far removed in subject matter from any of these. Danny Rose is an empathatic character whose heart goes out to the underdog. He is a former comic who becomes an agent, representing acts that no one else will touch. He has been kicked down many times, but he continues to plod along, always believing he will hit the big time with a special act. But late in this story, told by a comic to fellow comics who know Danny Rose, he comes to the realization that his life is going nowhere. That scene, on Thanksgiving Day, is filled with pathos. Mixed with the comedy throughout, that one scene makes this one of the most touching films imaginable. Mia Farrow gives a strong performance as the would-be interior decorator who is having an affair with a Rose client, a has-been, one-hit wonder from the '50s played by Nick Apollo Forte. This is a must-see for Allen fans, and would be a good introductory film for those not familiar with his work.
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"I need a valium the size of a hockey puck. "
Galina21 June 2006
Broadway Danny Rose (1984) -written/directed by Woody Allen who played the titular character, the small time show-biz agent with the clients like "blind xylophonists, piano-playing birds, and has-been crooners with drinking problems." Danny may not be successful but the famous comics having a good time in the legendary Carnegie Deli, Manhattan, NY tell the stories about him. "Broadway Danny Rose" may be considered as a minor Allen's work but it is equally charming and amusing dramedy that pays specific homage to Damon Runyon who is famous for portrayal New York City's colorful lowlifes of the 1920s and '30s when "respectability and the demi-monde rub shoulders".

Danny's problem is that as soon as one of his clients makes it to the top, they would drop him in favor of a big-name agent. Danny stuck with a drinking, self-centered Italian crooner Lou who is attempting (and just about to make it) a comeback, and Danny, being a loyal and protective agent, unwittingly gets involved with the singer's girlfriend Tina whose family has a long memory and strong resemblance to Soprano family. No wonder poor Danny needs "a valium the size of a hockey puck". Mia Farrow is almost unrecognizable as a tough and vulgar (but not a dumb) blonde. Her philosophy is her way of life "It's over quick, so have a good time. You see what you want, go for it. Don't pay attention to anyone else. And do it to the other guy first 'cause if you don't he'll do it to you." She obviously acts on her words but in the end of the movie she realizes that the things which count most in life are "acceptance, forgiveness, love" which is Danny's philosophy. She was cast against the type and it worked brilliantly in the funny but touchingly nostalgic movie. "Broadway Danny Rose" is a sparkling gem from the writer/director/star, one and only Woody Allen. I never expect anything else from him.
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Allen's Best By Far
mikej-49 April 1999
I have never been able to relate to many of Woody Allen's films, although I would say that nearly all of them are quite well concieved and executed. Broadway Danny Rose is something quite unique, I mean that the script is simply beyond belief. How someone could concieve of all those lines is truly remarkable. It is one of the most quoteable films I have ever seen. The lines which are memorable are tinged with this incredible satiric and ironic sense of humor. The scenes are at once super realistic and very funny. Woody Allens way of making fun of people is at its best here. The opening scene where Lou Canova is at the lounge singing "I Like The Look Of You...", wow, the cast of characters assembled, how could anyone have found these people. I guess alot of credit is due to the person who cast the film. If you look at the credits you see that most of the faces which appear were appearing in their only film. This is the basis of the movie's genius. Then there are lines like: "I'll open with Volare and You Make Me Feel So Young... or "I don't know whether to go with Boulevard of Broken Dreams or Three Coins in a Fountain as an encore... or "Lou's probably drinking out of a promotional sized whiskey bottle by now.. or "If anything happens to that car I'll be furious... or "He made juice for the mob?... or "Allow me to interject one point at this juncture... or "Weinstein's majestic bungalow colony is a classy joint, I need a classy act, how about Sonny Chase, he's fast, he's funny... or "Pee Wee has been eaten by a feline, that comes under the act of God clause... or "If you take my advice, you'll probably be one of the great balloon folding acts of all time. I really wish I could find this for sale. It's a film which can be watched repeatedly without risk of boredom or redundancy. A great film around Thanksgiving time. Joe Franklin, Howard Cosell, Milton Berle. New York City circa 1972. The Waldorf. The 70's garb. New Jersey Italians by the dozen. Angelina the fortune teller and her little dog and assistant. "And yet he cares for you... Don't go to him, take care of old buisness... Time out... "Lou, the directions were good, it was a Gulf station... "A cheap blonde, Lou... I could keep spouting fragments of the script for an hour and I don't mean to be didactic or facetious.
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Acceptance, Forgiveness, Love!
Ken23 July 2006
Oh, wow, what a great film, with comedians Jackie Gayle, Morty Gunty, Will Jordan, Sandy Baron, among others, reminiscing (hilariously!) over lunch, about the irrepressible Broadway Danny Rose! Mr. Allen is such a poor (but, extremely-likable) nebbish, who you just cannot help rooting for, as he contends with an egotistical, has-been singer named Lou Canova (portrayed by Nick Apollo Forte, who looks a heck of a lot like former New York Ranger hockey great, Phil Esposito), and the singer's "wise-guy widow" girlfriend, Tina Vitale (portrayed by the wonderful Mia Farrow, as the no-nonsense Jersey-girl with really big, blonde hair!). I'm grateful that several of the other posters here, have explained the meanings of so many of the Italian and Yiddish words used in this uproariously funny flick. I got a big laugh, when that wise guy's over-protective mother, flashed a Universty of Texas Football-like "Hook-Em, Horns!" gesture at poor Danny in front of everyone at that lawn party, and shouted: "Corno d' oro!" as in the Italian expression, "Horns of Gold," meaning that the entirely-innocent Danny had made a cuckold of that lady's gangster-son, by getting to "know" Tina in the "Biblical sense"! And, Mr. Allen exhibited a keen eye for New York/New Jersey details, when he had Danny driving a humble Chevy Nova (a real "Jersey-mobile"!) over the George Washington Bridge on his way to pick Tina up for Lou, in Bergen County, N.J. Tina's Garden State apartment, with the majestic view of the New York City skyline, looks as if it's located in either Fort Lee or Cliffside Park (next to the world-famous amusement park, formerly situated in Palisades Park, N.J.), all just south of the G.W. Bridge. Alas, the Liberty View Diner in Jersey City (where the two thugs "rearrange" Danny's beloved Nova in the diner parking lot with a couple of baseball bats) is no longer there. The now-demolished diner was just off of the "beautiful" N.J. Turnpike, and next to Liberty State Park, which affords visitors an absolutely spectacular view of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and lower Manhattan along an extensive walkway on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. How could you not like a film that features the eclectic likes of Howard Cosell, Milton Berle, Sammy Davis, Jr., New York City's venerable, former "Mr. Late-Night-Local T.V. Talk Show Host," Joe Franklin, a very young Ricky Schroeder, and, the film's comedic "dark horse," the one-and-only, Barney Dunn, ventriloquist/unwitting romantic "beard" par excellence!?!
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Modest But Ingratiating Allen Effort Features an Effectively Blowsy Farrow
Ed Uyeshima20 March 2006
Mia Farrow is the big surprise in this minor-league Woody Allen comedy from 1984. Before he started deifying ("Hannah and Her Sisters") and then skewering ("Husbands and Wives") her image as the consummate caretaker, he cast her against type as Tina Vitale, a brassy Mafioso widow in this frequently funny paean to Allen's days on the Borscht Belt in the 1950's. She is the mistress of a loutish Vegas-type performer named Lou Canova, who is represented by his woefully unsuccessful agent, Danny Rose. Danny gets Lou a big break, a high profile gig at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at which Milton Berle is to attend, and Lou insists that Danny take Tina to the show. Complications ensue as when Tina's mob connections think she and Danny are a couple, and much of the brief 84-minute movie is about the chase - which is frequently hilarious.

My favorite scene is when Tina and Danny are trapped by a thug in a huge warehouse where Macy's stores their Thanksgiving Day floats and their voices break into a helium pitch when the bullets hit the air tanks. As Tina, Farrow submerges herself so completely in the role that in hindsight, it seems a shame she didn't push for a greater variety in her film roles. For once, Allen plays a completely sympathetic character, a nice guy caught up in ludicrous circumstances that are truly not of his own doing. I am not sure who Nick Apollo Forte is, but he is completely convincing as Lou especially when he's onstage singing like Tony Bennett and acting like Vegas mainstay Danny Gans.

As a framing device for the story, Allen assembled several famous comics at the Carnegie Deli to talk about Danny's story. Led by Sandy Baron, who later played Jerry's father's adversary on "Seinfeld", they are the ones who usually played the Catskills hotel showrooms and showed up on the Ed Sullivan Show in the 1960's. Speaking of which, I assume the story takes place sometime in the 1970's, but I'm not sure since Allen really does nothing to the set designs to make it feel like a period piece. Allen also jettisons his standard jazz score for the Italianate lounge music that Lou sings. The ending is surprisingly poignant given the shenanigans that precede it. Within his filmography, this is definitely one of his more modest efforts, but along with "Sleeper", "The Purple Rose of Cairo" and "Manhattan Murder Mystery", it's also one of his most ingratiating comedies. Other than the film's trailer, there are no extras with the DVD package.
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"It's important to have some laughs, but you gotta suffer a little too, because otherwise you miss the whole point to life."
ackstasis23 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Clustered around a table over lunch at New York's Carnegie Deli, a group of film critics are having an enthusiastic discussion about Woody Allen, who has been among the most influential comedy directors since the 1970s. The group toss around the titles of a few of his films - 'Annie Hall,' 'Manhattan,' 'The Purple Rose of Cairo' - and everybody nods in silent agreement, recognising each of these as classics of cinema. A fourth critic, emboldened by the candidness of his companions, tentatively suggests 'Broadway Danny Rose,' but is not quite met with the enthusiasm he had hoped for. These critics, it seems, cannot quite agree on this particular film.

CRITIC A: "OK, you've asked that I explain myself, and I personally believe that 'Broadway Danny Rose' is one of the director's best efforts… out of the films of his I've seen, in any case. The title character, played by Allen, is a truly tragic figure, a dedicated "little man" who pours his heart and soul into the performers he manages, only to be unceremoniously dumped as soon as they make it big. Allen is excellent in the role – as always – and his character is given more than enough witty and quotable lines. You wouldn't think that an ordinarily meek and delicate actress like Mia Farrow could play a hard-edged, chain-smoking Italian (ex)-mob wife like Tina Vitale, but she manages to pull it off perfectly. Also spare a moment to consider Nick Apollo Forte in his first and only appearance in a film, convincingly portraying Lou Canova, the childish, drunken has-been crooner who, thanks to Danny Rose's management, is finally making a comeback."

CRITIC B: "I'm afraid I wasn't quite so enthusiastic about the film as you were. Yes, the acting was very good, but the story itself left a lot to be desired. Danny and Tina's day of adventures involving the Italian gangsters was fun and entertaining, but it didn't really amount to anything significant. The only truly memorable part of the film was the final ten or so minutes, with Danny ditched by his protégé despite all his hard work. Even then, the conclusion seemed to be stretched out for too long, but I'll admit that it was made up for by Danny's touching silent reconciliation with Tina on a snowy New York street. Additionally, I know that Mr. Allen is fond of filming in black-and-white, but it just didn't seem to be serving any real purpose here. Maybe he just thinks that cinema looks better without colour."

CRITIC C: "I'd also like to say a thing or two about 'Broadway Danny Rose.' You just mentioned that the story itself seemed light-weight to you. Perhaps it was, and Allen just wanted to deliver some good ol' light entertainment (who can forget the hilarious shoot-out around a leaking helium container?!), but that ending is certainly not light-weight, and it hits you when you are least expecting it. The film is a very sensitive, contemplative exploration of an anguished character: Danny Rose is confident and witty on the outside, but inside he harbours a large amount of grief. Whenever he pours his heart into an inept performer, he loses everything as soon as he has succeeds in making them a star, and must start back at the beginning. Perhaps the most depressing thought of all is that he knows that this will never change. This isn't Woody Allen's best movie, but I would recommend it without a second thought."

Having reached something of an agreement, the table of film critics acknowledge their assent with a quiet murmur and return to their lunch. As you've no doubt already noticed, these characters are sheltered within my own mind. And, believe it or not, I actually agree with all of them!
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Reminiscent of Chaplin
Gyran30 August 2001
This is a chamber piece, shot during Allen's black and white period. The first time I saw it, in a cinema, I found it disappointing, somehow uncinematic. I saw it a second time, on television and it seemed much more comfortable in that medium.The third time I saw it, some twelve years later, it seemed like a little gem.

A squeaky voiced Mia Farrow disguised in a curly blonde wig and dark glasses foreshadows Mira Sorvino's performance in Mighty Aphrodite. The rest of the cast are unknown, some of the actors being real-life Jewish comedians and speciality acts. It is interesting to reflect on the interchangeability of Jewish and Italian behaviour in the film, the exaggerated emotions and the theatrical gestures. This is something that is apparent in other films such as Dirty Dancing or Moonstruck, which would have worked equally well as Jewish films or Italian films.

Allen gives one of his best performances as the hapless Danny, promoting a portfolio of one-legged tap-dancers, one-armed jugglers, balloon folders, parrot acts and glass harmonica players. He achieves a pathos which is lacking in his more autobiographical roles. The reconciliation scene at the end is reminiscent of Chaplin in City Lights.
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Watchable, pretty funny and well-acted...but it just needed a little more.....
mattymatt4ever26 July 2001
"Broadway Danny Rose" is not a bad film--though I don't ever recall any of Woody's movies being "bad." I just felt it lacked something. Maybe it was the energy. Maybe it needed more focus. I laughed a fair deal of times, though I'm used to laughing a lot more during Woody's comedies. The performances are superb. Mia Farrow turns in a very impressive performance and so does Nick Forte. I guess the plot needed more zest. It's not a cliched story, but it's quite ordinary. It's an ordinary romantic comedy with its only twist being the gangster subplot. I'm not asking for anything spectacular; I just wanted more. Mind you I'm a good fan of Allen's work. In fact, I think this movie and "Deconstructing Harry" are his only films that I've had less-than-satisfying opinions about. Of course, I'm still a budding fan of Woody. I haven't checked out all his work, but I'm constantly more and more curious about the gifted writer/director with a sharp, extremely original sense of humor. So recently I've been checking out more and more of his movies--old and recent.

Judging by many excellent reviews I've read, maybe I'm wrong by calling this a minor work for the great director. But that's simply the effect it had on me. Then again, many people called "Small Time Crooks" a very minor work for Allen. I still thoroughly disagree, being that the movie made me laugh more than virtually every comedy I've ever seen! So I guess it's always a matter of opinion.

My score: 6 (out of 10)
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Superb Woody
drednm30 June 2017
This is one of Woody Allen's best films. It's very funny and has a poignant ending. It also offers terrific performances by Allen and Mia Farrow as Tina.

Bookended by a group of comics telling showbiz stories, Sandy Baron tells the tale of Danny Rose (Allen), a famously unsuccessful comic and theatrical talent manager. He manages a one-time pop singer (Nick Apollo Forte) who's making a comeback because of a nostalgia craze. He's also having an affair with Tina Vitale (Farrow), a no-talent interior decorator connected to the mob. The singer asks Allen to act as a "beard" and bring her to a big show he's doing as a nitery.

But of course everything goes wrong. Allen and Farrow end up at a party in New Jersey where a dopey suitor is scorned by Farrow. The family thinks Allen is the new boyfriend and sets out to avenge his honor, with the old mother (Gina DeAngeles) screaming "Vendetta!" from a balcony.

What ensues is a comedy romp with Allen and Farrow trying to outrun the two brothers with baseball bats. In the meantime, Forte's singer is finding new success and also a new manager.

This is a near-perfect film. Woody Allen and Mia Farrow (almost unrecognizable) are great. Nick Apollo Forte is happily oily (and wrote two of the film's big songs). Milton Berle has no lines but shows up in a few scenes. Then there is the collection of hilariously bad acts Allen managers, from the blind xylophone player to the one-legged tap dancer.

The ending is poignant and simple, set on a rainy day in New York City. Wonderful film.
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It's only personal, then it's strictly business ...
ElMaruecan8217 April 2012
Woody Allen is Danny Rose, the fervent yet hapless manager of a bunch of desperate veterans artists who try to make their 'Broadway' in the cruel world of entertainment. There is a lousy ventriloquist with a stammer who can't even grab the attention of kids during birthday parties, one is such an expert in hypnosis that he can't even awaken his victims, there is also a balloon-toddler, a glass player , piano-playing birds, and Lou Canova, a has-been Italian lounge singer who sings an unbearably catchy tarantella called "Agita". These artists are so lousy that the premise of "Broadway Danny Rose" is already funny by itself and it does provide some of the best jokes of the film but as we get deeper in the film, we can see that Woody Allen doesn't make these jokes for pure comedic sake. There is a little heart beating within the story of Danny Rose, a tale about a man who, more than anyone, loves his job and even more, loves the people he happens to manage.

"Broadway Danny Rose" carries the same charm as Tim Burton's "Ed Wood", the film about the worst director of all time who fulfilled his passion of making films and loved it. This is the core of Danny Rose's story, told in flashback by a group of comedians eating in Carnegie's Deli. And the more we get into it, the better we understand their enthusiasm and their fondness toward the man. They do tell funny stories but we know they don't laugh at him, but at the crazy situations provoked by his total dedication to his job. In fact, they all respect both the artist and the man. And the 'greatest story' about Danny Rose is simply the tribute to a man who took his job so personally that he gave letters of nobility to the notion of 'personal manager', maybe the only profession where you can't hide behind the eternal "it's not personal" alibi, his business is strictly personal, and his devotion to reconcile Lou Canova (Nick Apollo Forte) to his mistress Tina Vitale (Mia Farrow), forces the admiration. Danny never abandons his artist, in fact, he doesn't even consider 'abandoning' as an option.

But I make the film sound too serious while I was just praising its most underrated value. Overall, the film is purely and simply Woody Allen's comedic talent back on the road. After the depressing "Interiors", the dreadful "Stardust Memories" and the perplexing "A Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy", hardly are the highlights of Allen's career, "Broadway Danny Rose" seals the rebirth of a comical treasure and the starting of his greatest cinematic streak. Followed by "The Purple Rose of Cairo", "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Radio Days", the 80's are marked by a Woody Allen at the top of his game, able to mix between comedy, romance and life introspections with an extraordinary combination of wit and creativity. And it all starts with the adventure of Danny Rose, the man who'd struggle to be 'the beard', in agents' jargon's, to pretend to be the boyfriend of Tina, Mia Farrow barely recognizable as the typical Italian mob girl. The situation worsens when Danny fails to explain to a jealous Italian gangster in love with Tina that he's only 'the beard', which gets him in a cat-and-mouse chase with the Italian mob. Danny Rose's adventure with Tina occupies three quarters of the film, where every single Allen's line is pure comedic gold, so perfectly written it never even distract from the narrative.

One of the most famous exchanges occurs when he quotes his Rabbi who used to say that "we're all guilty in the eyes of God." Tina asks him "Do you believe in God?" to which Rose retorts: "No, no. But I'm guilty over it." The line is not only hilarious but it's totally fitting the discussion about guilt, and the fact that Tina could never feel guilty, foreshadows the emotional pay-off at the ending when she would realize that 'she did something wrong'. Without having the depth of a character study, "Broadway Danny Rose" features a series of jokes that work whether you take them in or out of their context. At one part, he asks if a man who was shot in the eyes went blind, before realizing that the bullet "had to come through", this is not just hilarious, but it also highlights in a very smart way his total anti-violent nature and inoffensiveness, comparing a field of reeds to "Vietnam", or himself to "Moses" and refusing to go on the water because he's a "landlocked Hebrew". You'll have a hard time to figure if it's the adventure that carry the gags or vice-versa, and it's as impossible as thinking of the comedic effect of a shootout in a helium factory without smiling.

Gangsters, streetwise Italian 'broad', tarantellas, Family, there is a strong Italian feel in the film as if Allen decided to parody the archetypes of Italian to better highlight the bizarreness of his 'Jewishness' in an ethnic mess, and it marvelously works because Woody Allen has an incredible talent to use ethnic humor every time with a lighthearted wit and the appealing wisdom of self-derision. The whole film is an exaggeration of cultural traits and stereotypes, but is it surprising when the main character is a man with an exaggerated passion for his job and a more curious exaggerated faith in his artists' talent, no matter how bad they are. Danny Rose is the last rampart to resist Broadway's unflappable money-oriented policy, an independent worker, maybe an embodiment of Woody Allen's vision of himself in the world of Cinema. And after his experimental takes on Fellini, Bergman or Shakespeare, we realize that Woody Allen is never as great as when he's being himself, a true author in the field of comedy, wit and creativity. And "Broadway Danny Rose" is one of his best.
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One of Woody's most entertaining.
Rockwell_Cronenberg15 January 2012
This was an absolute delight, no way around it. Simple, hilarious and ultimately beautiful. I love the interesting ways that he structures his films and this one has one of the best techniques yet; the story is told as a story, told by a group of comics just hanging out at a restaurant shooting the breeze. It's a great way into the narrative and gives the film a very loose, vintage feeling. It truly does feel like a story that a veteran comic is telling around a table of friends. The black and white shooting helps even more in this interesting tone that he established, it all comes together beautifully.

Usually Woody Allen's films benefit from their large casts of great scene-stealers but here he relies almost entirely on the chemistry between him and Mia Farrow and it was such a wise move. What we get is this delightful little adventure movie with the two of them constantly bantering with classic Woody dialogue, "I don't wanna badmouth the kid, but he's a horrible, dishonest, immoral louse. And I say that with all due respect." I feel like Allen is underrated as an actor because people feel he always "plays himself", but I think he's great and always manages to add layers to his characters. Yes, there's the neurotic cynicism in everything he does, but there's always something more (and honestly even if there wasn't I would be fine watching him ramble on forever). In Deconstructing Harry there was the brutally sad undertones of a man who had spent his life trying to find happiness only to find himself alone and lost in his work, but here was a man who had spent his life trying to find happiness for others only to find himself used and abused. As wildly fun as a film like this is, there's also an aspect of it that absolutely breaks my heart.

The final act was surprisingly solemn and depressing (although there's the classic smile of an ending), but the film shined brightest when Farrow and Allen were just being wild and bouncing off each other. Farrow was unrecognizable here, for a while I wasn't even sure it was her. Behind large sunglasses and a wild wig, she totally disappears and it's the most fun I've had watching a performance in a while. She is so in control and absorbed in this character, it's a riot. The two of them are tremendous in a wickedly entertaining film that in the end has a lot of heart and something important to say about the industry. Another work of Woody genius.
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Did You Hear the One About Danny Rose?....
evanston_dad31 March 2008
A pretty funny Woody Allen comedy, in which Allen himself plays Danny Rose, small-time talent agent who finds himself falling for the mistress (Mia Farrow) of one of his clients (Nick Apollo Forte) when he has to pretend to be the mistress's date at one of his client's shows (it's a long story). Before long, Allen and Farrow are engaged in an escape from a gang of hoods that climaxes in a shootout in the storage warehouse for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Allen is hilarious as usual, but Farrow is the one who impressed me with her acting here. I already knew she was a fine dramatic actress, but here she gets to show her comedic side, playing a brassy floozy with a Joisy accent and enormous glasses.

The film is framed as a story one famous comedian is telling to a group of other famous comedians at New York City's Carnegie Deli, and the whole film has the patina of nostalgia for NYC that so often infuses Allen's films. Like "Manhattan," "Broadway Danny Rose" is filmed in black and white and looks fantastic.

Grade: A-
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epitome of NYC show biz
tommyschiraldi7 November 2006
This has got to be one of the most well crafted movies I have ever seen. From the black and white to Katz' deli with the industry comics sitting around telling stories. It unwinds and is captivating with NYC stereo types. Goofy talent, Italian Thugs,Cheap women,boozers,foreigners it just doesn't stop. "I...I... I mean can I just say something at this juncture...I see you playing at Gymnasiums, VFW's and high schools.You are going to be big" This is genius. Many can't or don't understand Woody Allen but he is genius and this movie is one of his best albeit lacking the intellect or complexity of his others. I could go on. It's been 22 years and there has not been any year that I discounted this movie. Maybe it's a bygone era...
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Poor Barney Dunn!
blanche-27 March 2006
Woody Allen is at his absolute best performing his wonderful script, "Broadway Danny Rose," also starring Mia Farrow. Allen plays a low-level talent agent/manager with clients like a one-legged tap dancer, a bird act in which one of the birds is eaten by a cat, a blind xylophonist - you name it. And he's devoted to every one of them. He also happens to have one marginal talent who is fortunate enough to ride the crest of the nostalgia era - Lou Canova - whose hit song in the '50s was "Agita." But Lou won't perform his big gig at the Waldorf unless his mistress Tina (Mia Farrow) is in the audience, and Tina, a cheap-looking blond, is angry with him because he was spotted somewhere with a cheap-looking blond (which could be his wife). Danny moves heaven and earth to get her to what should be Lou's breakout performance, and runs afoul of Tina's old boyfriend, the connected Johnny. Tina is at a party at Johnny's house when Danny finds her. Mistakenly thinking he's lost Tina to Danny, Johnny drinks iodine in an hilarious scene where his mother puts a curse on Danny - using the word feared by Italians worldwide - MALOCCHIA. You have to watch the film to see where Barney Dunn fits in.

There's no other word to describe this film but hilarious. The movie opens with a conversation in a deli between some comedians, including Corbett Monica, Jackie Gayle, Sandy Baron, etc., reminiscing about Danny Rose. "Broadway Danny Rose" is the most New York thing you'll ever see, from the deli scene, Lou's appearance on the Joe Franklin Show, and an appearance by Howard Cosell. Not to be missed.
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A sweet, charming & funny film
Paul Klenk (paulklenk)20 December 1998
Woody Allen needs to make more movies like Broadway Danny Rose. It is clever, witty and always entertaining.

So many favorite scenes: the helium-induced, squeaky-voiced gun-shooting chase; the pathetic Holiday party; the menagerie of losers Danny represents; the stupid, wiggle-assed rancorous little bitch played by Mia Farrow.

One of my favorite things about the film is Allen's choice of a narrator, a group of show-biz comedians and agents sitting around having lunch. There's so much affection in their derision of Danny, and of course, affection for Danny by Woody.

This film takes Allen's love for New York and features one slice of it, his love of show business, especially the old New York that none of us will ever experience first hand. But we feel as if we have experienced it authentically, including its tastes, smells, sounds and feelings.

Truly one of Woody's most pleasurable and underrated films. I can't find it on video anywhere (probably out of print) so I'd appreciate it if someone would tell me where I can find a copy.
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Happy Thanksgiving Mr. Allen !
bugsnest4 November 2002
I watched this film last weekend after having the DVD on my shelf for almost a year, not realizing what an amazingly beautiful film I have in my collection. I do not have any further insight to offer towards this movie than what some reviewers here have already put so well. But if you haven't seen this touching and funny little gem from the master Allen then do watch it. The Thanksgiving dinner finale that's mentioned in so many posts here makes you believe in the magic of cinema. One cannot help but be moved to tears just seeing that expression on Woody's face and the hope and dreams of all the "artists" present at the frozen-turkey dinner. The diners at the restaurant sums it up the best as Danny Rose being a true legend on Broadway.

It's movies like these that come along once in a blue moon that make the wait and the heap of junk one is so often subjected to, worth it.
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Lou is one of Woody's best characters, but this is not one of his best films.
Ben Parker30 June 2004
The gimmick is a group of friends sit in a bar and tell stories about theatrical agent Danny Rose (Woody Allen), whose discoveries always leave him as soon as he makes them famous. Danny Rose is a pathetic figure, but a very likeable one. The main story they tell is his relationship with past-his-time singer Lou Canova.

This is another one of those pictures where Woody has used black and white to both recall an old world and convince us this is classic material. He did the same thing with Manhattan. This picture is less self-conscious than Manhattan, and its performances are better, but its still very measured.

It lacks narrative drive, and starts stretching out and meandering at the one hour mark. This is not one of Woody's best pictures. Its not as fun as Manhattan Murder Mystery, not as cohesive as Husbands and Wives, not as beautiful as Manhattan, not as memorable as Annie Hall.

But Danny Rose is a good character, and ex-matinee idol Lou is a wonderful character. I'd recommend you see this movie to aquaint yourself with Lou, one of Woody's best and most memorable characters.

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the funniest woody allen movie no one has seen
ruthraff14 October 1998
This is the funniest Woody Allen movie, and no one has seen it.The characters are memorable, and the lines are great. The ending is a little drawn out, but I like the way everything is drawn together; it begins and ends at the Carnegie Deli. Long live Barney Dunn.!
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Woody and Mia wriggle with Mafiosos...
moonspinner5521 September 2010
Wispy-thin Woody Allen comedy: classy and perfectly enjoyable on a minor scale, though somehow seeming more an innocuous jaunt rather than a highlight of Allen's cinematic oeuvre. A group of comics in a New York City deli reminisce about a past acquaintance, a theatrical manager whose clientèle consists mainly of outcasts and has-beens. Allen plays Danny Rose somewhat differently than he does the struggling Lotharios of "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan"; he turns the tables on himself, begging booking agents to hire his curio acts, and acting like a mother hen to his single star attraction, a hefty Italian singer who once had a hit in the 1950s. As a writer, Allen gets the Italian-Mafia scenario down perfectly, while his bits of visual satire are as cutting as they were in "Stardust Memories" (though without the sour aftertaste, this film being far more inoffensive). Cinematographer Gordon Willis gives the picture a sharp, stylized look, and his use of white light contrasted with deep shadows is probably unsurpassed, however "Danny Rose" seems too little a project for such a heady visual presentation--it leads viewers to hope for something more. There are laughs all the way through, and yet the movie never really takes off, hovering somewhere between zany and nostalgic. It stays pleasantly grounded, an affable time-filler. **1/2 from ****
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