Bullets Over Broadway (1994)

R  |   |  Comedy, Crime  |  24 February 1995 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 28,094 users  
Reviews: 80 user | 63 critic

In 1920s New York, a struggling playwright is forced to cast a mobster's talentless girlfriend in his latest drama in order to get it produced.


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Won 1 Oscar. Another 18 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Malgorzata Zajaczkowska ...
Lili (as Margaret Sophie Stein)
Charles Cragin ...
Nina von Arx ...
Josette (as Nina Sonya Peterson)


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 Reid Gagle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The New Comedy From Woody Allen! See more »


Comedy | Crime

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 February 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Disparos sobre Broadway  »

Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)


$13,383,737 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Benay Venuta's final film. See more »


When Cheech and David walk through a neighborhood, the corner has an obvious, modern handicap curb-cut. See more »


David Shayne: You're gonna write it?
Cheech: What am I? A fuckin' idiot? They taught me how to read and write in school before I burned it down.
David Shayne: You burned down your school?
Cheech: Yeah, it was Lincoln's birthday. There was nobody there.
See more »


Featured in The Roseanne Show: Episode #1.12 (1998) See more »


Thou Swell
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Performed by The Three Deuces Musicians
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User Reviews

takes on the egotistical qualities in artists- and gangsters- in Allen's very funny send-up of Broadway
15 March 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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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