Broadway Danny Rose (1984)

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Broadway Danny Rose

Dir. Woody Allen, 1984

In between his comedy masterpieces Zelig and The Purple Rose of Cairo, Woody Allen made Broadway Danny Rose, a small, unambitious comedy of manners that wins through pure charm. Allen plays the titular Danny Rose, a former Borscht Belt comedian and now small-time talent agent responsible for the nostalgia-driven career revival of lounge singer Lou Canova (Nick Apollo Forte). When Canova wants his mistress (Mia Farrow) to come to his show, he gets Danny Rose to bring her as if she were Rose’s girlfriend. But first, Rose falls afoul of the mistress’ other boyfriend, a mafioso who wants him dead.

By setting the film a decade earlier than it was made, and filming in black-and-white, Woody Allen gives it a very beneficial timeless feel, which highlights the performance and comedy more than its wonderfully-dated Catskills style. Another winner from Woody Allen’s most critically acclaimed decade. A-

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Sleeper (1973)

Sleeper

Dir. Woody Allen, 1973

Before gaining dramatic prestige with films like Manhattan, Woody Allen was possibly the funniest man in America, whose special blend of the physical, situational, and ribald gave the world classics like Take the Money and Run, Bananas, and Sleeper.

Presented as the final film at the Old Pasadena Film Festival, Sleeper tells the story of Miles Monroe (Allen), a nebbishy health food store owner who is frozen in 1973 and defrosted 200 years later by a group of rebels against the current autocratic government. In a prescient bit of Orwellian paranoia, Monroe is the only person who can stop the government’s next plan because he is the only person in the world who is “off the grid.” Before he can acheive this goal, he finds himself tied down to a haughty socialite (Diane Keaton) before the real plot resumes.

Sleeper’s deconstruction of raygun gothic and ‘70s dystopian sci-fi is nothing but pure joy. There isn’t much to say except that I’d easily put it up as my second favourite Woody Allen film after his very first, What’s Up Tiger Lily? A