Woody Allen's sentimental reminiscence about the golden age of radio. A series of vignettes involving radio personalities is intertwined with the life of a working class family in Rockaway Beach, NY circa 1942. Written by
Scott Renshaw <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The amusement park young Joe walks by in the film is old Rockaway Playland located in Rockaway Beach, New York. The park was in its last year of operation when the film was being made in 1987 and was subsequently closed and demolished. After remaining an empty lot for many years the property, in the late nineties, had been developed with houses built on it. Ironically the Beach 98th train station on the IND A train still holds the name PLAYLAND in its station name. See more »
In the closing sequence, when Julie Kavner (Mother) says "I'm worried about the future," she spills champagne on the baby she is holding. She looks down briefly, but the camera ignores it and pans over. See more »
What Aunt Bea did with the rest of the money was treat us all to a Broadway dance palace. She and Sy seemed very much in love, and she seemed happy. But it was not to be, because after a week Sy did not leave his wife and children, nor did he after two weeks nor ever. And as the year came to a close, Aunt Bea would soon be back to her old dreams of finding a true love. Still, on this night, no one had any thoughts except what a wonderful time we were all having.
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This is a wonderful wonderful movie that exemplifies the phrase, "misty watercolored memories." It is a joy to watch and listen to. The era before and during WWII, however, was anything but wonderful. Radio Days presents a time when America was dealing with the Great Depression and its after effects and the horrible event that was World War II. Since the man narrating the memories was only a boy then, it is altogether fitting and proper that he see things as a child; for as he states in one scene, "our conversation turned from Nazis to more important things,like girls." No movies, except this one, that I recall, are able to deal with this critical age in American history without conveying the tragic time that it was.
I would like to think this family was really Woody Allen's, but it is probably a work of fiction, like his other pieces. But how tremendous that he can create (or remember) these people. As I watched it, one thought that kept recurring was that these were not "beautiful" manufactured people like we see in the media today; they had big hips and were fat and poor and... and none of that mattered. They were real. They were believable. You can't watch this movie without wondering what happened to them, did Aunt Bee find a husband? You cared about this family and personally, I wished they were mine.
The vignettes were sad and sweet. My favorite was poor departed Kirby Kyle; at least he had heart! And Leonard; and "donations for the promotion of a state in Palestine." So many memories that make us a part of a family most people never had. The viewer belongs to this warm and loving group.
Something has been lost with the concept of "nuclear family," with the lonely big houses and empty hours and unshared hopes and sorrows. Radio Days reminds us that having someone to experience life with is a treasure and a blessing, despite whacks on the head, martians, and fish, "That man always brings home fish!"
And oh, the music!
This is Woody Allen's masterpiece.
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