• Much is made of Woody Allen’s admiration for Ingmar Bergman—and rightly so—but Federico Fellini seems like just as strong an influence. If you think about it at this point in 1987 Allen has already made his 8 ½ (1980’s Stardust Memories). Well, Radio Days is clearly his Amarcord. It is one of Allen’s most autobiographical and nostalgic works. It is told in one setting (New York, of course–here the Rockaways) and filled with period (late 1930’s to early 1940’s) music. There is no forward-moving story- just a series of anecdotes and interconnected vignettes (the radio programs, actors behind them, and his family).

This is clearly personal for Allen- about a Jewish family, a labor of love – and it comes across in the level of detail in the production design, costume work, period advertising (the rooftop scene is gorgeous).  Radio Days earns its 1987 Academy Award nomination for art-direction set design

  • If we’re talking period-specific music, loaded with music, no plot and lots of nostalgia- I also think of George Lucas’s American Graffiti
  • Sort of Annie Hall (voice-over by Allen—who doesn’t act in this one, autobiographical with a little carrot-top kid playing his younger self) meets 1983’s A Christmas Story
  • The writing is a strength (screenplay Oscar nominated)—the parents arguing which ocean is better- Atlantic vs. Pacific – haha, the radio story about blind baseball player with one arm, and one leg…”and heart”, other vignettes are about the rush he felt entertain radio city music hall (which comes across), or his group of buddies peeping on a naked woman dancing (straight out of Fellini). I think the beach setting is even a nod do Fellini.

the rush he felt entertain radio city music hall (which comes across)

the vignette with peeping on a naked woman dancing– straight out of Fellini

  • The ensemble is large, Dianne Wiest, Mia Farrow— small little cameos from Allen’s past collaborations- Jeff Daniels, Tony Roberts, and even Diane Keaton in her first work with Allen since 1979 (Manhattan). She doesn’t speak, she just sings here. This is the only film with both Farrow and Keaton
  • 88-minutes and it is so warm and it moves easily from song to song and scene to scene (43 songs used) it feels like half that amount of time.
  • The scene with the girl down the well—with Allen’s use of spotlights (Carlo Di Palma is DP- most famous for Antonioni collaborations Red Desert and Blow-Up) and paparazzi—this is a scene out of La Dolce Vita. In Allen’s most heartfelt moment he shows a montage of listeners as tragedy strikes
  • Allen smartly goes back to the best set- the rooftop for the finale- this time it is New Year’s Even 1944
  • I’ve always loved the fantastic poster
  • Strong stuff from Ebert who adored the film- 4/4 for him “Radio Days” is so ambitious and so audacious that it almost defies description. It’s a kaleidoscope of dozens of characters, settings and scenes – the most elaborate production Allen has ever made – and it’s inexhaustible, spinning out one delight after another. https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/radio-days-1987
  • Highly Recommend- top 10 of the year worthy