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.
1920s Broadway. Playwright David Shayne considers himself an artist, and surrounds himself with like minded people, most struggling financially as they create art for themselves, not the masses. David, however, believes the failure of his first two plays was because he gave up creative control to other people who didn't understand the material. As such, he wants to direct his just completed third play, "God of Our Fathers", insider scuttlebutt being that it may very well make David the toast of Broadway. With David having no directing history, David's regular producer, Julian Marx, can't find any investors,... until a single investor who will finance the entire production comes onto the scene. He is Nick Valenti, a big time mobster, with the catch being that his dimwitted girlfriend, non-actress Olive Neal, get the lead role. A hesitant David and Julian, who are able to talk Nick into them giving Olive one of the two female supporting roles instead, go along with the scheme hoping ... Written by
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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