Thursday, August 21, 2014

RADIO DAYS reviewed

RADIO DAYS (1987, Twilight Time)
Though not as high profile as ANNIE HALL or CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, this warmly nostalgic, episodic look back at the preeminence of radio in 1930s and '40s life is one of Woody Allen's finest achievements. Because the subject is radio, and because Woody's representative is a youngster (Seth Green), the fantastic side of radio programming is accentuated, but the whole film and each of its vignettes could furthermore be said to address the thin wall dividing fantasy from reality - the revelation that radio's "Masked Avenger" is played by Wallace Shawn, the squeaky voiced cigarette girl (Mia Farrow) who becomes a haughty-toned high society commentator, the woman spied undressing through her apartment window by a group of kids later being introduced as their new schoolteacher, and the haunting moment when a Nazi U-boat may or may not be spied off the coast of Rockaway Beach. Even the biggest names in the movie have the smallest parts. Best of all, while the film has its share of neurotic characters, the film itself doesn't feel remotely neurotic for a change, and while there is a discernible AMARCORD influence at work, it doesn't cop the operatic style of that influence. The period setting is impeccably well sustained, from the five-and-dime storefronts to the heavenly interior of Radio City Music Hall, and it all builds to what may be the finest closing shot in Allen's filmography. I could easily see this film becoming a New Year's Eve favorite, much like A CHRISTMAS STORY has become for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, if more people were aware of it - even though it tells us that the technology that really brought people together is a thing of the past. A must-see, beautifully brought to BD by Twilight Time, with an isolated Music and Effects track.

This review (c) 2014 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.

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