Day 153: Bananas

51YEKNWN8HLAnother film that begins as a mockumentary – this one about a banana republic in which the president is to be assassinated on live TV.

With Howard Cosell providing color commentary.

Huh?

The first five minutes are about as funny as What’s Up, Tiger Lily?

Bananas was written by Woody Allen and Mickey Rose and is Woody’s third turn behind the camera.

Mickey Rose died in 2013 at the age of 77.

According to his entry on Wikipedia,

Michael “Mickey” Rose (May 20, 1935 – April 7, 2013) was an American comedy writer and screenwriter. A lifelong friend of Woody Allen, the two boys met in high school, and later co-wrote material for Allen’s stand-up routines, and several of his early motion pictures. Rose wrote for other comedians and contributed scripts to several television series.

He and Allen, then known as Allan Stewart Konigsberg, first met at their high school, and became close friends, frequently skipping school, and playing jazz and baseball together. They together matriculated at New York University, from which Rose earned a bachelor’s degree in film, although Allen dropped out. After Allen had become a stand-up comedian, Rose co-wrote “The Moose” routine with him. Around this time, they collaborated with others on the English adaptation of a Japanese spy film, which was turned into What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966), Allen’s first film as director.

“The Moose” is a hilarious routine.

I’m sad to hear that Rose died last year.

One scene that doesn’t play as well today given recent allegations made by Mia Farrow’s daughter is of Woody in a magazine store buying porn. At the check-out lane, the clerk asks for a price check on a magazine called Orgasm. Woody tries to laugh it off by saying, “Doing a sociological study on perversion. I’m up to Advanced Child Molesting.”

Yeaaah. About that.

Lots and lots of fast-paced jokes and sight gags. If there’s one thing Woody Allen doesn’t skimp on it’s dialogue. Or sight gags.

Themes:

1. The word “pedantic,” a word Woody will use in several subsequent movies.

2. Woody in analysis.

3. Woody as sexual deviant or awkward sexual partner.

4. Death.

5. Dysfunctional relationships.

6. Jazz music. (Not in the opening credits, though…throughout the film, I suppose provided by Marvin Hamlisch.)

A young Sly Stallone appears early on as a thug harassing passengers on a subway car.

The plot, if one dare suggest the film has one, is this: Woody meets a girl (Louise Lasser) who rejects him because he’s not enough of a leader. Spurned, he decides to fly to San Marcos where he hooks up with the leaders of the country. The leaders decide to kill Woody and blame it on the rebels. He flees with bullets raining down upon him and ends up hiding out with the rebels learning the skills of the trade: how to fight, run, exercise, camouflage, etc.

If you can overlook some of the clunky dialogue, there are some witty and funny scenes in this film.

However, I’m not a big fan of movies about overthrowing governments, rebels, executions, and general political mayhem. Maybe that played well in 1971 when this movie was released. But today, with the world sitting on a powder keg of political tensions, it just doesn’t seem funny.

As with Take the Money and Run, this movie is pure Woody being Woody. His character’s name may be different. But it’s the same nebbish who appeared in the previous film.

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