Woody Allen – Bananas (1971)


One of Woody Allen’s earlier, more slapstick-oriented efforts, Bananas tells the story of Fielding Mellish (Allen), a neurotic New Yorker who follows the object of his affections, Nancy (Louise Lasser), to the fictional Central American country of San Marcos, where she is involved in a revolution. Nancy wants nothing to do with Fielding, but he soon becomes a guest of the country’s dictator (Carlos Montalban), before accidentally becoming the leader of San Marcos himself. Fielding is eventually shipped back to the US and tried as a subversive, but being that this is a comedy, and an especially light one at that, everything works out in the end. A far cry from Allen’s later, more somber films, Bananas still works as an often hilarious amalgam of sight gags, one-liners, and bizarre asides. — Don Kaye

A prime example of the “earlier, funnier” Woody Allen films, Bananas is a consistently off-kilter story about an American product tester (Allen) who ends up as a Latin American dictator. It’s an anarchic take on 1960s-style revolutionaries. The satire is light, but the film is packed with trademark Allen one-liners, slapstick, and sight gags, and Allen the actor is in top form. Some of the material became quickly dated, but Bananas is an excellent showcase for the often-overlooked comic talents of the first of Allen’s three leading actress/girlfriends, Louise Lasser. Marvin Hamlisch’s witty score is a great contribution to the success of the film. Asked why the film was called Bananas, Allen told an interviewer: “Because there are no bananas in it.” Building on the cult success of the extremely silly Take the Money and Run two years earlier, Bananas marked the real start of Allen’s remarkable run of comic successes in the 1970s. — Michael Betzold


Subtitles: English (.srt)

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