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
When Rocco, Nick Valenti, and Cheech pay their respects, the scene starts with an establishing shot of headstones. A large headstone prominently shows the name "Sorice." Jim Sorice, the Master Scenic Artist, has been the scenic artist in many Woody Allen movies. Cosmo Sorice is the Stand-by Scenic Artist. See more »
When Cheech and David walk through a neighborhood, the corner has an obvious, modern handicap curb-cut. See more »
Sorry you guys had to hear that. Some problems with the firm.
Really? What type of firm is it, Nick?
It's a "don't stick your nose in other people's business and it won't get broken" type of firm.
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takes on the egotistical qualities in artists- and gangsters- in Allen's very funny send-up of Broadway
Now this is something sort of rare, though not really: Woody Allen mixing satire and drama, and the satire actually even more convincing than the drama. The opposite was in a more serious affair, Crimes and Misdemeanors, where art and murder and infidelities all get into one big pot of personality crises. This is the same case with Bullets Over Broadway, though this time Allen's tackling of the ego-maniacal crutches of the Broadway scene- the aging star Helen Sinclair (Dianne Wiest, one of her very best performances, funniest too), the bumbling boob Olive Neal (Jennifer Tilly, appropriately annoying- and then how it sort of infects the outsiders to the major Broadway scene, one the protagonist David Shayne (John Cusack, excellent here), and Olive's bodyguard, Cheech (Chazz Palminteri, a character he could play in his sleep, but played pretty well anyway). Cheech is hanging around during rehearsals of David's first play he's writing and directing, following getting funding (on the condition of Olive as a psychiatrist) from a heavy-duty mobster, and soon he's suggesting ideas, and in the process becomes David's uncredited collaborator. But meanwhile infidelities are abound, with David falling for the wonderfully self-indulgent Helen, and a goofy romance between Olive and the thespian Warner Purcell (Jim Broadbent), leading to a purely ironic climax.
Allen's skills at navigating the neuroses of all the characters is very skilled, and sometimes the one-liners are surprisingly funny, all based on the personalities (Wiesst especially, in a voice that is a little startling at first, gives a classic line about the world 'opening' up, and her running gag with "don't speak"). Even with the more dramatic connections, which doesn't seem to be as much of Allen's concerns since it's pretty one-note with the mob side of things (and, frankly, the fates of Olive and Cheech sort of seem a little too contrived for the sake of the irony par for the course), we do get a very memorable bit to make things worth the while, like David and Cheech's down to earth talk at the bar. But if there's anything else to recommend more strongly it's for the sharpness of the script in the theater scenes, the backstage banter, the hilarious tension stirred up by grudges and ill-timed romances. Plus, there's a bit of an added treat for fans of past Allen films, where he casts Rob Reiner in a role sort of similar to that of Wallace Shawn in Manhattan. Not a masterpiece, but a very enjoyable work that's successful on its dark-light terms.
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