Woody Allen: Radio Days

(USA, 1987, 88 mins, 35mm)
CAST Seth Green, Julie Kavner, Michael Tucker, Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, Wallace Shawn, Jeff Daniels, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts


Inspired in part by Fellini’s Amarcord, Radio Days finds Woody waxing nostalgic for the 1940s Brooklyn of his childhood, and in particular for the influence that radio exerted on the cultural imagination of the time. With a free-associative structure that allows him to turn the dial back and forth between half a dozen story vignettes - some of them autobiographical, others quite fanciful - the film is held together by its evocative atmosphere and the rich, beautiful cinematography by Carlo di Palma.

Gripped by wild radio stories about bloody wars and beautiful celebrities, 10-year-old Joe Needleman (Seth Green) longs for adventure and dreams of the day he’ll see enemy spies or a German submarine. But while Joe’s life is filled with fantasies about radio voices, the real people behind the mics have fantasies of their own. And as stars rise, careers fall and a nation hurtles towards the future, only one thing is certain: the glory days of radio will live on in Joe’s memory.

"A lot of it is based on an exaggerated view of my childhood," Allen admitted. "My relationship to the schoolteachers and to radio was like that… We used to go out to the beach and look for German aircraft and German boats. I did have an aunt who was forever getting into the wrong relationships… And we did have those neighbours who were Communists, and a telephone line where we listened in on the neighbours. All those things occurred."

"Radio Days is so ambitious and so audacious that it almost defies description." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times