[box cover]


The question that Woody Allen's fans have long asked each other is, of course, "Do you like the later, artsy Woody or the early, funny Woody?" Well, when you talk about the funny Woody films, you're talking about Bananas. Woody Allen's second film as a director, Bananas is a preposterous, unpredictable and occasionally hilarious comedy about a product-tester named Fielding Mellish (Allen), who can't quite connect with the neurotic, WASP-y (sound familiar?) woman of his dreams played by Louise Lasser (who is, incidentally, Allen's ex-wife). When their relationship collapses Fielding decides to travel to South America to impress her with his political consciousness, but, through a series of mishaps, he accidentally winds up as a freedom fighter serving in the army of a Castro-esque guerrilla leader. Even worse, as soon as the dictator assumes power he quickly goes insane, causing Fielding to reluctantly take over as president. Bananas is extremely uneven, much of the humor is dated, and a lot of the gags fall flat. But it's watching Allen find his footing as a director as he pays homage to great film comedians like Chaplin and Keaton — he is amazingly physical in Bananas — that makes this an interesting look back. And uneven as it is, Bananas still offers some of Allen's best gags, like Howard Cosell doing the play-by-play of Allen and Lasser's wedding night, and the dream he recounts to his therapist about dueling crucified Messiahs vying for a parking place in New York City. Keep an eye out for a very young, uncredited Sylvester Stallone in a tiny role as a subway tough. Very good transfer in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), pan-and-scan on the flip-side. Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono). Theatrical trailer, keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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