Monthly Archives: May 1971

BANANAS

Woody Allen’s second feature film is as all-over-the-place, gag-a-second, and often hilarious as its predecessor. As the film opens, we have an assassination of a dictator on the small Latin American country of San Marcos – covered by ABC’s Wide World of Sports (featuring a must-see bit role for Howard Cossell!). Then things shift to Manhattan, where Fielding Mellish (he looks like his name sounds), played by Allen, works as a product tester. He gets a visit to his apartment one day from a pretty young thing named Nancy (Louise Lasser), recruiting people to sign a petition for intervention in the situations down there, and he’s immediately smitten. Soon they’re dating, attending demonstrations together, and seem very happy. Then she breaks his heart and he decides to prove he cares about her work by travelling to San Marcos, where a rebellion seeks to overthrow the fascist government. Hijinks ensue. Like his debut feature “Take the Money and Run” (1969), this plot is essentially a clothesline for Allen’s patented jokes; nothing is taboo. This is no-holds-barred comedy at its best. The results are mixed, and frequently hilarious. NOTE: Allen took a while to get serious, edging in that direction with Oscar-winner “Annie Hall” (1977) and going full-blown with “Interiors” (1978). He shifted to more polished, thoughtful dramedies such as “Manhattan” (1979), “The Purple Rose of Cairo” (1985), “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986), “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (1989), “Husbands and Wives” (1992), “Deconstructing Harry” (1997), “Melinda & Melinda” (2004) and “Match Point” (2005).

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