Radio Days (1987; USA; DeLuxe; 88m) ***½ d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Carlo Di Palma; m. Dick Hyman (supervisor). Cast: Mia Farrow, Diane Keaton, Jeff Daniels, Tony Roberts, Dianne Wiest, Woody Allen, Seth Green, Julie Kavner, Michael Tucker, Wallace Shawn, David Warrilow, William Flanagan, Mick Murray, Paul Herman, Mike Starr. A nostalgic look at radio’s golden age focusing on one ordinary family and the various performers in the medium. Allen’s affectionate tribute to the 1940s is a series of vignettes based around a family of Jewish New Yorkers living in Brooklyn. Along the way we meet vulnerable characters encountering the challenges of poverty and life who get their pleasures from the radio programmes of the time. Warm and funny, its lack of a central plot is compensated by its strong ensemble cast of characters. [PG]
Broadway Danny Rose (1984; USA; B&W; 84m) ∗∗∗∗ d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Gordon Willis; m. Dick Hyman (supervisor). Cast: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Nick Apollo Forte, Sandy Baron, Milton Berle, Craig Vandenburgh, Herb Reynolds, Paul Greco, Howard Cosell, Corbett Monica, Jackie Gayle, Morty Gunty, Will Jordan, Howard Storm, Jack Rollins. In his attempts to reconcile a lounge singer with his mistress, a hapless talent agent is mistaken as her lover by a jealous gangster. Delightful comedy with Allen is superb form as agent Danny Rose and farrow delivering an atypical performance as the gangster’s moll. It’s all wonderfully photographed in black & white by Gordon Willis. The character driven jokes work well in a charming tale. Many old comics appear to recount their favourite Danny Rose stories. [PG]
Shadows and Fog (1992; USA; B&W; 85m) ∗∗∗ d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Carlo Di Palma. Cast: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, John Malkovich, Madonna, Kathy Bates, Jodie Foster, Kate Nelligan, Donald Pleasence, Lily Tomlin, John Cusack, Michael Kirby, Camille Saviola, David Ogden Stiers, Dennis Vestunis, Katy Dierlam. With a serial strangler on the loose, a bookkeeper wanders around town searching for the vigilante group intent on catching the killer. Allen mimics German Expressionism whilst channelling Bob Hope in this dark comedy. The cinematography and production design (by Santo Loquasto) is outstanding. There are star cameos throughout, which sometimes distracts from the story. Ultimately, the main plot goes nowhere and is a mere cypher for character interactions, which lack depth. An interesting, but flawed, experiment. Based on a one-act comedy play called “Death”, published in Allen’s “Without Feathers” (1972), the play and movie are themselves a pastiche of Franz Kafka’s work in general, and of his novel “The Trial” in particular. 
Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, A (1982; USA; Technicolor; 88m) ∗∗∗ d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Gordon Willis. Cast: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Jose Ferrer, Julie Hagerty, Mary Steenburgen, Tony Roberts, Michael Higgins, Timothy Jenkins, Adam Redfield, Moishe Rosenfeld, Sol Frieder, Boris Zoubok, Thomas Barbour, Kate McGregor-Stewart. A wacky inventor and his wife invite two other couples for a weekend party at a romantic summer house in the 1900s countryside. Allen explores themes of lust and love in this contrived and whimsical comedy interspersed with funny one-liners and visual gags. Sumptuously photographed country setting makes it a visual treat helping to overcome the narrative faults. Based on Ingmar Bergman’s SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT (1955), which also inspired Stephen Sondheim’s musical “A Little Night Music”. 
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986; USA; Technicolor; 103m) ∗∗∗∗∗ d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Carlo Di Palma; m. Puccini. Cast: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Michael Caine, Carrie Fisher, Barbara Hershey, Maureen O’Sullivan, Dianne Wiest, Max von Sydow, Lloyd Nolan, Daniel Stern, Julie Kavner, Joanna Gleason, J.T. Walsh, John Turturro, Richard Jenkins. Between two Thanksgivings, Hannah’s husband falls in love with her sister Lee, while her hypochondriac ex-husband rekindles his relationship with her sister Holly. Brilliantly observed portrayal of the lives of three sisters, their relationship with each other and with the men in their lives is amongst Allen’s finest achievements. Sharp and witty script is enhanced by superb performances from the cast. It is a movie that presents its three-dimensional characters in a way that is utterly engaging and believable. Caine, Wiest and Allen (as writer) all won Oscars.