Looking for a popcorn flick that won’t insult your intelligence? Try Woody Allen’s 1984 comedy about a talent agent on the run from the mob.
In Broadway Danny Rose, Woody Allen plays a two-bit entertainment agent who, while escorting the saucey blonde mistress of singer Lou Canova (Nick Apollo Forte) to a concert, finds himself being chased by mobsters through New Jersey and Manhattan. At a brisk 84 minutes, Rose speeds through its story with lighthearted fervor, giving Allen just enough time to show off his usual neurotic, rambling persona, crack his standard one-liners, and remind us how gorgeous New York can look — especially in black and white.
Of course, we all know that a Woody Allen film isn’t just about the persona he seems to recycle again and again, but about his biting, tongue-in-cheek perspective on love. He’s fascinated with the destructive power that love (and lust) can bring into our lives, and tends to leave us wondering if we’d be better off without it. His characters seem doomed to repeat the same mistakes, never realizing the futility of their relationships or the questionable choices they make in the heat of passion. In the hands of another director, the subject could seem terribly pessimistic, but despite abandoning any idealism about the topic, Allen always seems to find humor – and occasionally great hope – in the stumblings of the heart.
In addition to the high-strung Woody Allen character, there’s always the emotionally unstable mistress, who nevertheless embodies an undeniable (and often irresistible) allure. Here, the seductive other woman is played by Mia Farrow, almost unrecognizable as the shrill, snappy Jersey blonde Tina Vitale. She’s both offputting and entrancing, outspoken yet insecure, steadfast in her philosophies yet thoroughly vapid. Farrow brings a life and immediacy to the events of the movie moreso than any other character, and while we may be tempted to write off the performance as classist, she’s so much fun that we barely notice. Even when Allen is criticizing those outside of the intellectual/socioeconomic elite, he paints them with a certain loving fondness, conversely worshipping them and damning them for the temptations they inspire.
Is Broadway Danny Rose Woody Allen’s best film? Not even close. But it’s a fun, overlooked little gem that perfectly captures the ethos of his filmmaking philosophy, all the while being exhilarating and hilarious from beginning to end. You certainly can’t go wrong with that.