Suffering from writer's block and eagerly awaiting his writing award, Harry Block remembers events from his past and scenes from his best-selling books as characters, real and fictional, come back to haunt him.
Set in 1920's New York City, this movie tells the story of idealistic young playwright David Shayne. Producer Julian Marx finally finds funding for the project from gangster Nick Valenti. The catch is that Nick's girl friend Olive Neal gets the part of a psychiatrist, and Olive is a bimbo who could never pass for a psychiatrist as well as being a dreadful actress. Agreeing to this first compromise is the first step to Broadway's complete seduction of David, who neglects longtime girl friend Ellen. Meanwhile David puts up with Warner Purcell, the leading man who is a compulsive eater, Helen Sinclair, the grand dame who wants her part jazzed up, and Cheech, Olive's interfering hitman / bodyguard. Eventually, the playwright must decide whether art or life is more important. Written by
Dianne Wiest said she really struggled with Helen Sinclair's signature line. She finally decided to lower her voice when she said "Don't speak!" The lower she said it, the funnier it became. See more »
Helen gives David a gift on his birthday, and calls him a Scorpio. Two scenes later, it is September 24th. The sun enters the sign of Scorpio at the end of October. David is a Virgo or a Libra. See more »
In 1920's New York a young author, David, manages to get his play off the ground with funding from mobster Valenti. The money allows David to get actors of the caliber of Helen Sinclair and Warner Purcell, however there's a catch. Valenti wants his screechy girl friend Olive to play a key part. This problem is compounded by Olive's minder Cheech who has plenty of constructive criticism on how the play could be better. David tries to balance all these in the name of art.
It's rarely new ground that Woody Allen walks but how come he manages to make it so damn sparkly and witty? Here he delivers wonderful spoof on theatre people and the assumptions we all make about characters based on what they do or how they talk. The writing is spot on, Allen delivers tonnes of great lines but also creates characters that he expands over the film. It is very watchable and it rarely suffers from the fate on some of Allen's recent comedies feeling too light or whimsical for it's own good. Instead it is funny but has some points to make.
Of course it always helps if you have a great cast and this does. With people like Warden, Broadbent, Wiest, Tilly, Parker, Fierstein, Reiner, Falco and Palminteri it's hard not to have at least the majority of the cast giving good performances Wiest, Tilly and Palminteri were my favourites. Cusack was good as the overpowered writer but the one thing I didn't like is the same with many actors who do the traditional Woody role he gives a slight impression at times rather than cutting out the role as his own.
Overall Woody Allen may not be everyone's cup of tea but for fans this is him at his whimsical best. Not a classic comedy but a warm Allen film that sparkles in nearly every scene.
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