|Radio Days (1987)
Run time: PG | 88 min | Comedy
Director: Woody Allen
Writers: Woody Allen
Stars: Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, Mike Starr
Woody Allen’s warm tribute to the medium that time forgot spot lights both the people whose lives revolved around their favourite radio programmes (a Jewish family living in Queens) and the people who created those aural fantasies. Richly nostalgic.
Budget: $16,000,000 (estimated)
Gross: $14,792,779 (USA)
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Radio Days has got to be one of my absolute favorite films of all time. To me, it’s a film that balances story, characters and atmosphere better than just about any other. It’s truly a great work of art, and a very, very underrated one. The best thing about it is how Allen’s love for his subject, the romantic nostalgia he feels, translates so eloquently to the screen. You’ve also got to hand it to the cast. Diane Weist, Julie Kavner, Mia Farrow, Josh Mostel, a briefly-glimpsed Jeff Daniels, and a young Seth Green all give great performances that are right out of the period, yet instantly recognizable. Allen had Santo Loquasto, his art director, do a bang-up job on creating the world of early-1940s Rockaway, New York, and Jeffrey Kurland’s costumes help immensely. Particularly note-worthy is Carlo Di Palma’s stunning cinematography. The colours, the smoky nightclubs and soundstages, the dimly-lit nighteries and the dazzling rooftop set come to life like few sets do in films. And then there’s the music. That dazzling array of classic music, from one of the best periods for it in American history. Allen’s decision to use only music from that time might sound cliche, but he’s definatly justified here. And there’s always the Radio Show Themes piece by Dick Hyman (I’m always by that name) that accompanies many of the scenes. That piece of music alone is worth seeing the film. As you can probably tell, I love this film simply for the fact that it’s such a charming, enchanting, beautiful film. It’s one I’d show my children, even the nude dancing scene, had I any children to show it to. Woody Allen’s turn in the films he’s made lately (as of 2003) are, to me, pretty depressing and perverse, with none of the charm, life and humor that works like Radio Days symbolize, Sweet and Lowdown notwithstanding. Hopefully, more films like this gem are on the horizon.
Radio Days (1987)- written, directed, and narrated by Allen:
What a beautiful, kind, gentle, ironic, warm, sentimental (in a very good way and yes, I am talking about Woody Allen's movie, that's right) yet perfectly balanced delight. It is a series of sketches about young Joe (young Allen, of course, played by Seth Green – that was a surprise), an adolescent in Brooklyn, NY during 1930s-1940s who was passionately in love with radio which was a king. The film is a tribute to the magical radio days and the myths and legends about radio personalities, the memory of a grown man who never forgot where he came from, the love letter to his always fighting and arguing ("I mean, how many people argue over oceans?") but loving relatives and a very funny comedy (the way only Allen's comedy can be). It is the film where pretty like a doll and painfully naive Sally (Mia Farrow) asks who Pearl Harbor is? Where gorgeous Diane Keaton sings and Diane Wiest, his beloved Aunt Bea never gives up hope of one true love. He never told us if she found it…
"I never forgot that New Year's Eve when Aunt Bea awakened me to watch 1944 come in. I've never forgotten any of those people or any of the voices we would hear on the radio. Though the truth is, with the passing of each New Year's Eve, those voices do seem to grow dimmer and dimmer."
The Radio days are gone but thanks to Allen, the voices of the times passed are still clear and sound and they always will be.
This movie shouts one word: WARMTH. The colors, the plot, the characters, they are all wonderfully warm.
I’ve watched this movie with senior citizens who were around in the forties. I once watched it with a Jewish guy who grew up on Long Island (albeit in the early 30’s, not the 40’s). All comments were the same: THIS was life in New York during wartime.
Vietnam was my war, so this era was a mystery to me. However, any time a genius like Woody Allen can create a film that not only makes me and my rowdy friends laugh, but gets guffaws from my dear old Mom as well, it deserves a little fanfare.
I didn’t even mention the solid gold music.
See this film at once!
If you are looking for the normal amount of big laughs from a Woody Allen film, then you will be disappointed here. It’s not that kind of film.
I was anything but disappointed, but I knew what the film was all about before I saw it. Actually, what drew me to it was that I had read where this was a wonderful visual film, filled with rich colors and great set designs. It did not let me down. This is a great visual tribute to the 1940s, to be exact from 1938 to 1944. A real treat for the eyes.
The story centers around a Jewish family in Queens and the importance that radio shows had in that day-and-age. Also profiled in here are some of those radio performers.
It does have laughs but not as many as the normal Allen movie because the idea of this is simply to be a nostalgic piece, mainly Allen’s tribute to his own family days of growing up, what it was like around his house.
It was interesting to see Seth Green playing Woody as a youngster with flaming red hair. The most interesting person, however, was Diane Wiest who played a man-chasing sister-in-law. The film gives you a real flavor of the period, of New York and of a Jewish family.
Overall, it’s simply a nice film….and gorgeous to look at. Sometimes I think some of Allen’s work is overrated but, boy, here is one that is definitely underrated.