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
When Cheech and David walk through a neighborhood, the corner has an obvious, modern handicap curb-cut. See more »
You're a star because you're great and you are a great star, but let me tell you something, Helen. In the last couple of years you're better known as an adulteress and a drunk. And I say this in all due respect.
Look, I haven't had a drink since New Year's Eve.
You're talking Chinese New Year's.
Naturally. Still, that's two days, Sid! You know how long that is for me?
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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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