Review by Michael Jacobson
Mia Farrow, Julie Kavner, Seth Green, Josh Mostel, Michael Tucker, Dianne
Director: Woody Allen
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: Theatrical Trailer
Length: 88 Minutes
Release Date: November 6, 2001
more attention to your schoolwork and less to the radio!”
always listen to the radio!”
different! Our lives are ruined
car runs out of gas, and the couple inside, who are on their first date, are
eager for what happens next. But it
never happens…the romantic interlude is interrupted by a radio broadcast
intoning that the Martians have landed. The
man panics and runs away, leaving the girl afraid, alone, and helpless.
He never sees her again…the word she left behind is that she ran off
with one of the Martians.
of course, was Orson Welles’ historic airing of H. G. Welles’ The War of
The Worlds. It caused
widespread panic across America because of its realism.
And I’d guess it probably did stop at least one or two romantic moments
Days is a
warm, sunny piece of American nostalgia told with the visual flair of Fellini,
but with all the humor and intelligence of Woody Allen.
It’s a film so rich in memory that every time I see it, I wax nostalgic
for the times depicted in it, even though they were decades before my birth.
radio was at one point the centerpiece of American families.
Before television, there was music, radio plays, special programs,
interviews with the stars, and more. People
who gathered around the old boxes had to use their imaginations, and many kids
like Joe (a very young Seth Green), had fertile ones.
His hero was The Masked Avenger, who sounded like a pillar of might on
the airwaves, but in real life, looked very much like short bald actor Wallace
film weaves between stories and characters, from young Joe and his wonderfully
comic family (many relatives under one roof) to the on-air personalities that
enthralled and entertained them. The
radio was also a pipeline into the events of the world, as aspiring actress
Sally White (Farrow) brutally learns when her big radio debut is cut because of
the announcement about Pearl Harbor (“Who IS Pearl Harbor??” she demands).
is no focal character, but my thoughts couldn’t help always drifting back to
Joe, who is obviously meant to represent Allen as a child (Allen himself
narrates the film, but does not appear). His
family is often seen through his eyes, from his unlucky-in-love aunt (Wiest) to
his quibbling parents (Kavner and Tucker), to his uncle Abe (Mostel), who
suffers chest pains after deciding to break a traditional Jewish fast.
world is not only seen through the eyes of a child, but through his imagination
as well. There is a polished,
glamorously colorful and exaggerated look to certain scenes in the picture, from
his first radio show to the strip tease he and his friends observe through a
window, where the girl turns out to be…ah, you’ll find out.
There is even a shot where the kid swears he saw a Nazi U-boat off
the shore…the kind of thing you question as an adult, but seems so real when
you’re a child.
whole nostalgia theme is beautifully and comically handled.
The film is like walking through memories, even to the point of realizing
that memories are sometimes even better than the real thing.
When the radio stars ponder their futures on New Years’ Eve of 1944,
they wonder if they will be remembered. And
Allen himself dutifully points out that memories do in fact get fainter and
fainter as the years pass.
radio days are indeed gone forever. But
they couldn’t have asked for a better tribute than this warm, funny film from
TRIVIA: Look for many Allen
regulars in small roles, including Danny Aiello, Jeff Daniels, Tony Roberts, and
Diane Keaton, looking and sounding beautiful.
Listen also for real life radio personalities of old, like Don Pardo, Guy
le Bow and Kenneth Roberts.
a treat! This is a beautiful
anamorphic transfer from MGM, and one of the finest I’ve seen for a Woody
Allen film. The disc beautifully
captures the warm, rich, memory-tinted colors of Carlo Di Palma’s
cinematography…scene after scene is beautifully detailed and unmarred by
grain, spots, or other distortions. As
with memories, most everything takes on a supernatural look; brighter, more
vivid, more toned than real life, and it all comes across with integrity and
beauty on this DVD. Excellent!
of course, is very important on a film like Radio Days, and though Allen
always mixes his films for mono, this is still a vibrant listen, with a bevy of
terrific oldies scoring the action, clean, clear dialogue, and some dynamic
range for exaggerated dramatic effect…just like the old radio shows!
Days is one
of the best of Woody Allen’s most overlooked films. It’s a wonderful look back at a simpler time filtered
through the rose-colored glasses of memory.
It’s warm, it’s funny, it’s an absolute treasure, and one no movie
lover should miss seeing.