Saturday, December 1, 2007


Bananas; Comedy, USA, 1971; D: Woody Allen, S: Woody Allen, Louise Lasser, Carlos Montalban, Natividad Abascal, Jacobo Morales, Miguel Angel Suarez, David Ortiz, Don Dunphy, Charlotte Rae, Sylvester Stallone

New York. Fielding Mellish works in a factory in which he tests products like the office where managers can exercise. One day in front of his apartment Nancy shows up and tells him she fights against the dictatorship in the Latin American state San Marcus and asks for his signature for support. They become a couple but the relationship falls apart. Fielding goes to San Marcus and meets the dictator who plans to kill him in order to put the blame on the rebels of the revolutionary Esposito. But Esposito saves Fielding, drags him into rebel's lines and dethrones the dictator. Since Esposito himself becomes a dictator, Fielding masks himself into him and begs for help in the US. There he gets accused for conspiracy but proves his innocence and marries Nancy.

As it is known, Woody Allen started his career as a simple comedian with nonchalant, but not always great comedies: parody "Love and Death" was excellent, for instance, but "Take the Money and Run" rather average. "Bananas" is somewhere in the middle. The exposition crystallized the anarchic tone with the sequence where a journalist reports about a tradition in the Latin American country San Marcus in which every year a dictator gets executed publicly, while the plot continues with Fielding's (Allen) misadventures in New York, like when he is reading a porno magazine in a store but every time some lady looks at him he pretends to be reading the nearby "Time" magazine. The best gags are the one involving him in the unusual role of a revolutionary in San Marcus (equipped with burlesque gags like the one where in order to feed numerous rebels he forces owners of a store to transport 1.000 sandwiches into the jungle) and when his boss, an obvious caricature of Fidel Castro, becomes a dictator himself, he orders all of his citizens to wear their underpants outside, on their pants, which is a clever satirical jab at corrupt revolutionaries who just want to take the power themselves. Still, it can be sensed the story is just a set of neat gags, but otherwise pointless, silly and out of focus, even though Allen was on the right track to find his personal style.


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