Suffering from writer's block and eagerly awaiting his writing award, Harry Block remembers events from his past and scenes from his best-selling books as characters, real and fictional, come back to haunt him.
1920s Broadway. Playwright David Shayne considers himself an artist, and surrounds himself with like minded people, most struggling financially as they create art for themselves, not the masses. David, however, believes the failure of his first two plays was because he gave up creative control to other people who didn't understand the material. As such, he wants to direct his just completed third play, "God of Our Fathers", insider scuttlebutt being that it may very well make David the toast of Broadway. With David having no directing history, David's regular producer, Julian Marx, can't find any investors,... until a single investor who will finance the entire production comes onto the scene. He is Nick Valenti, a big time mobster, with the catch being that his dimwitted girlfriend, non-actress Olive Neal, get the lead role. A hesitant David and Julian, who are able to talk Nick into them giving Olive one of the two female supporting roles instead, go along with the scheme hoping ... Written by
Woody Allen had the inspired idea to let another actor played what would have been a tailor-made he wrote for himself. As a director, Mr. Allen has always done well. Of course, there are exceptions, but in "Bullets over Broadway" show an inspired Mr. Allen doing what he does best. This comedy, written in collaboration with Douglas McGrath, is a happy take on a situation that only this director would have been able to create.
We are shown two different worlds. In one, the roaring twenties gangsters have the control of all illegal activities in Manhattan. On the other, we meet an idealistic writer, David Shayne, who wants to have his play produced. Enter the capo Nick Valenti. This man has enough money to buy his current paramour, the dizzy Olive Neal, whatever her little heart desires. Thus, the vehicle chosen is the drama David has written.
Thus begins a frantic comedy of errors where the theater and the mob intermingle with funny results. We watch as the play gets produced on Broadway how the different factions come together, each one with a different idea as to what to do with the play.
The cast is first rate. John Cusack, as the ambitious playwright, does some of his best work in showing what this man is going through. Dianne Wiest, one of the most accomplished actresses around, makes a splash with her take on Helen Sinclair, the first lady of the American theatah! Jennifer Tully is excellent as Olive Neal, the girl from the provinces with high aspirations, but no talent.
Chaz Palmintieri, as Cheech, the mobster that understands what's wrong with the play is hilarious. The late Joe Venturelli was born to play his mobster Nick Valente. Jack Warden is perfect as the producer. Tracey Ullman and Jim Broadbent are simply marvelous as the cast members of the play in production. Mary Louise Parker and Harvey Fierstein, Rob Reiner are also seen in smaller roles.
"Bullets over Broadway", as most of Mr. Allen's films has a great musical score of the jazz songs of the era. Mr. Allen, in taking a seat behind the camera, delivers one of his best and funniest films to date.
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