Saturday, January 16, 2021

Radio Days

Movie Name:
Radio Days
Year of Release: 1987
Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Julie Kavner, Dianne Wiest, Michael Tucker, Josh Mostel, Mia Farrow, Seth Green, Wallace Shawn, Larry David, Todd Field, Danny Aiello, Diane Keaton, Jeff Daniels, Tony Roberts, Robert Joy, Rebecca Schaeffer, Rebecca Nickels, Richard Portnow
Genre: Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
"Radio Days" was the first release of 1987 for Woody Allen, which would be followed by "September" later that year. It was of course preceded by the immensely lauded and popular "Hannah and Her Sisters". "Radio Days" is largely an autobiographical picture, following the life of the narrator when he was at a young age, between 1938 and 1944. At the time Joe, the young boy at the center of the narrative, is of course living with his parents, aunts, uncle, grandparents, in a single family in Queens. The film goes on to detail different episodes Joe witnesses, either taking place around the household, or events related to radio shows he listens with his family. Some of these episodes involves his aunt Bea, and in particular her quest to find a nice man to marry. She goes out with a series of individuals, who for some reason always end up not working. In parallel, there are episodes focused on the Radio Shows, notably the "Masked Avenger", but also others describing the ascension to fame of Sally White, who starts as a cigar girl. It's a film that compiles a series of memories of growing up in the 40s, surrounded by classic Radio shows.
"Radio Days" is both a heartfelt homage to the days of the serials on radio, where people would collectively stop what they were doing, in order to listen to their broadcasts, but also a chance for Woody Allen to revisit some of his earlier memories of growing up in Queens, surrounded by an eclectic family. The film has a nostalgic and heartfelt aspect to it, almost organized as a series of vignettes edited together. The characters that populate this film are for the most part, defined in very broad strokes, but the film manages to capture the emotion, innocence and enthusiasm of people listening to radio, and dreaming of better and far more lavish lives. It's one of Woody Allen's films with a more heartfelt approach towards his own family, with all the characters ultimately exhibiting the biting satire one expects from him, but also displaying heart and sentiment, which makes this film a fitting tribute to them, but also to a time that has gone by. The nostalgia for the entertainment of the 30s/40s is also demonstrated by some of the episodes detailing the making of some of the Radio shows, and the one involving Mia Farrow's character, which is hilariously brought to life. It's definitely a unique film in Woody Allen's body of work, but one worth watching, featuring the wonderful cinematography from Carlo Di Palma, and a great ensemble of actors, most of whom are habituals in Allen's films, including Julie Kavner, Michael Tucker, Josh Mostel, Dianne Wiest, Mia Farrow, Tony Roberts and Wallace Shawn. Worth watching.