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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.
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.
Upon my initial viewing of "Broadway Danny Rose" ("BDR," as I will refer
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
"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
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!
Although a very funny film, Broadway Danny Rose is more of character
and philosophical morality play. This film explores the life and values
Rose (played by Allen)--a theatrical talent manager. Although he appears
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
thusly by his morality and his compassion for his clients--which he
family. He pours all his energy into his clients' careers only to be
them when they finally hit it big. In the course of an "adventure" with
hard-bitten Farrow, his values imperceptibly rub off on her and begin
on her conscious. Her moral conversion is completed when she seeks Rose's
forgiveness at the much talked about Thanksgiving dinner--a scene not
pathetic losers but rather a study of fellowship, compassion, redemption,
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.
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.
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
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
colony" - and why that line is a side splitter - shows the fact that woody
played this one close to the vest.
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.
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.
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!?!
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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