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 <email@example.com>
In one scene, a pack of Camel cigarettes lies on a table, with a clearly visible bar code on the side of the package. The Universal Product Code would not be introduced until the 1970s. See more »
Despite his bravado, Mr Manulis panicked and bolted out of the car. He was so frightened by the reports of interplanetary invasion that he ran off, leaving Aunt Bea to contend with the green monsters he expected to drop from the sky at any moment. She walked home. Six miles. When Mr Manulis called for a date the next week, she told my mother to say she couldn't see him. She had married a Martian.
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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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