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
According to John Baxter's biography of Woody Allen, Jennifer Tilly was the only member of the cast allowed to ad-lib or add to her lines, an acting impulse which Allen otherwise routinely crushed. She also claims that Allen actually advised her not to allow any other actors to slip into ad-libs but to interrupt them or talk over them instead. 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 »
Suddenly I'm taking suggestions from some strong-arm man with an IQ of minus 50.
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Woody Allen is a genius indeed. Once more in this movie he presents us with a mixture of intelligence and humour conveyed by his famous witty dialogues where the characters seem to play with serious things but are indeed giving us through humour an image of what people think and feel about life nowadays and about the relationships that spring among them. This story mix up with considerable success two ingredients that "a priori" seem not to combine very well: the world of theatre with the world of mafia and gangsterism in the crazy twenties of last century. All the characters are very typical and greatly performed: the young playwright looking for a place in the sun, the ham actress who overacts a lot even in real life, the mafia boss who imposes his girlfriend on the playwright as an actress, the Greenwich Village intellectuals and so on. In my opinion however the feeblest character is the one of the gangster who becomes also playwright from a certain moment on. Some of his interventions lack authenticity. But this is only a minor flaw in the whole. Like all the other Woody Allen's movies this one seems superficial at first sight but it's well made and deep enough to amuse us and simultaneously make us think and feel life in it.
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