Broadway Danny Rose: The Things Neurotic Talent Agents Will Do For Their Clients

Moving on to the first of several Woody Allen films on our list, this is Broadway Danny Rose.  The story of an agent with a veritable stable of second and third-rate acts, who has to get an alcoholic singer's mistress to an important show to avoid a career-destroying meltdown.  Having worked in talent management, I can recognize a lot of Danny Rose in agents I've worked with.

The story is framed by a group of comedians sitting down for dinner out at a restaurant, telling the tale of the legendary Danny Rose.  This man apparently was known for having the worst acts, the sort of people you would send to perform at children's birthday parties and nursing homes.  The jewel in his collection is Lou, a lush who had a few minor hits thirty years earlier and is hoping to capitalize on the current nostalgia fad, which has him in slightly higher demand than usual.  He books a show at Caesar's Palace, but there's only thing: he needs his mistress Tina to be there.

So he sends Danny Rose out to New Jersey to escort Tina to the show.  Only problem: she's "moody".  She gets into a huge fight with Lou over the phone and refuses to go, which means Danny has to follow her around and try to convince her she should reconsider.  Somehow they manage to end up in The Godfather, where Tina's former flame confesses his love to her, mistakenly thinks Danny Rose is dating Tina, and arranges a hit on Danny.  Hoo boy.

First of all: who are these people that look at Woody Allen and Mia Farrow and just assume they're dating?  I mean, I know they were married for a while, but honestly...Woody Allen and Mia Farrow?  If I asked Woody Allen and Mia Farrow if they were dating, and they both vehemently said no, I would probably believe them.

Anyway, while Danny and Tina go off on a little adventure to hide from the hit men, they seem to develop a friendship, although neither of them seem capable of shutting up and stop complaining for more than 30 seconds at a time.  They manage to get to Lou's show, but after it's over, Lou drops the bomb that he's leaving Danny to go with another manager.  And it's Tina's fault, because she's the one who planted the idea in Lou's little pea brain.  Ouch.  But a huge part of the humor from this movie is that we see exactly how much Danny is willing to go through for his client, and then at the end Lou's just like oh FYI I'm leaving you. What?

But the joke's on Lou, because he leaves his wife for Tina, and then she leaves him in like a month and a half.  What goes around comes around, suckah!

She starts dating Random Guy We Saw Earlier in the Movie For Like 30 Seconds And Who Served No Purpose But to Be Brought Back Here at the End (seriously, that's what it says in the credits), but apparently no woman can live without Woody Allen, because she tracks him down in NYC and presumably they hook up.  The End.

Random Musings:

  • Having worked for a talent agent in NYC (who yes, did happen to be Jewish), I can tell you that the pathetic tone of desperation Woody uses while trying to sell his clients is completely accurate.

  • I like the premise of the film, with a group of comedians swapping stories about the famous Danny Rose.  It's something a little different.

  • It really is kind of sweet how hard Danny works for his clients.  He's just this adorable little nebbish guy giving pretty genuine pep talks to the NYC version of the Island of Misfit Toys.

  • I love when Woody's over at Lou's house for dinner and hits on his twelve-year-old daughter.  Just because, given his history, that seems like a Woody Allen thing to do.

  • Love Woody trying to convince Lou's mistress that he's just not the cheating kind. "He only cheats with one woman at a time!"

  • "It's not spying when you care about someone."  Really?  I'm not sure there's a legal precedent for that interpretation of the Don't Be A Creepy Asshole Law.

  • Why are these crazy mobsters standing around tearing up money?  That doesn't seem fiscally responsible.  Which is weird because, say what you will about the mob, they're usually pretty savvy businessmen.

  • Woody Allen is such a dirty old man.  I swear, he writes some of these scenes just so he can be on screen tied up to a sexy wriggling woman.  It's so transparently self-serving.

  • My favorite moment of the film is that heartbroken look on Woody Allen's face when Lou announced that he wanted new management.  I know how hard agents take it when their clients leave really is a lot like being dumped.  But mostly, well, we've spent over an hour watching Danny Rose busting his ass for Lou.  I mean, the guy's a pretty damn good manager.  And it sucks when talent is that unappreciative of your efforts.

  • I found myself thinking, wow, this last image of Danny catching up with Tina works really well.  I wonder why.  I realize it's the fact that it's a long shot and I can't hear Woody Allen's neurotic gibberings.  Then I felt like an asshole.

I don't have really strong feelings about Woody Allen one way or another.  Some movies of his I really enjoy  and others I can take or leave.  This film probably falls into the latter category.  There are some lines that I think are funny, and I definitely think the film picks up as soon as Woody and Mia start running from the mob.  But ultimately I feel like it relies too heavily on Woody Allen's schtick and worn Italian stereotypes.

I think, generally speaking, I prefer Woody Allen as a director/writer rather than an actor.  I find the dialogue he writes somehow less grating when it's coming out of someone else's mouth.  And for me, the best Woody Allen is when he gets to do something nostalgic, like Radio Days or Purple Rose of Cairo.  Those are my favorites from him.

Mia Farrow does a good job in this movie, even if she is pretty much just playing a stereotype.  And I love how they make her wear those gigantic sunglasses the whole time so that the audience doesn't notice her dainty Western European features (I think she's supposed to be Italian, and she's not exactly the most Italian looking person in the world).

All said, this was a film that I got a kick of just because I am familiar with the industry and the relationships that develop between actors and their agents, but I don't know if I would be eager to watch it again.  Too much non-stop Woody Allen for my tastes.

Thanks for reading, and come back for my next review!

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