Sunday, February 05, 2012

Danny Rose: Neither didactic nor facetious

For some reason, I always get that backwards, but even Konigsberg has to admit that "neither facetious nor didactic" sounds better. Welp, as with most things in life, there's always a tradeoff. You can either watch Broadway Danny Rose on MGM-HD and get a little less of the picture, but very bright and better to look at, or you can look at the DVD and get slightly more of the picture, but much darker and, to my way of thinking, not as good. Ever since 1982's "A Midnight Summer's Sex Comedy" or whatever the hell it's called, it's been one film a year from Woody, not counting 1987's September and Radio Days. But he had assembled a good crew, and got Gordon freakin' Willis as cameraman, for God's sake! I guess that makes Sven Nykvist chopped liver, especially after working with Nora Ephron.
But this is without a doubt the closest Woody will get to acknowledging his Borscht belt counterparts in the joke-telling business. Woody himself plays Danny Rose, a very low level talent booking agent with very high moral principles, mostly involving wise truisms said unto him by close relatives. I guess this is probably considered a slight shaggy dog story by Allen-o-philes in the grand scheme of things, but he got the damn thing made, right? Now it's just a matter of getting it out of the evil clutches of MGM's fallen empire, and maybe get it on the Warner Bros. side of things where it'll get a DECENT video re-release, perhaps a nice Blu-Ray package. Also, there's a prominent star-making performance by a certain actor/songwriter named Nick Apollo Forte. Apparently, this was the role of a lifetime for him, at least in terms of the silver screen. You've got to hand it to Woody and Danny Rose: they know showmanship when they see it.
I haven't seen Melinda and Melinda, but the overall structure apparently involves a bunch of guys sitting around telling stories. In M&M, it involves telling the same story, but tweaked in two ways: one towards comedy, one towards drama. Here, Seinfeld's Jack Klompus tells the ultimate Danny Rose story, and it is indeed a rolling epic involving the aforementioned Lou Canova, and the many, many complications that Danny Rose goes through to get to Canova's big show one day. And when it's all said and done, not ONE of the wise-ass comedians seated at the table says "You know, that story might make a hell of a movie!"
If I remember correctly, Manhattan ends in a similar way, with the camera following Woody as he runs down the street after the girl. Woody will always make a beautiful dollar in this business, but he might want to save as much money as he can at this point. Somehow, I don't think his new films will be as profitable.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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