Woody Allen’s Bananas
82 min – Comedy – 19 July 1971 (Sweden)
Ratings: 7.0/10 from 16,155 users
Director: Woody Allen
Writers: Woody Allen, Mickey Rose
Stars: Woody Allen, Louise Lasser and Carlos Montalbán
The movie Bananas fails in several categories, from montage to rhythm; from farfetched argument to mediocre secondary actors. The category i does not fail, however, is in the laugh provoking one. Either with intelligent gibes and witticisms or just plain old rudimentary slapstick. Woody Allen has never been funnier.
Watching this movie I couldn’t help but recall Monty Python’s And Now for Something Completely Different. For both the worst and the best… and the meh… The plot is unraveled supported by what seems to be a provisional structure. Monty Python’s work is just a series of sketches organized in a more or less random order. They don’t try to conceal it. They give it to us short and hard, the way I like it. Woody Allen makes up a stupid story and stupid circumstances to create space for his brilliant sketches. The plot revolves, on and off, on the events that lead Fielding Mellish, played by young Woody, to go from a neurotic blue collar man to the rebel leader of a fictitious South America country.
It is a well-known fact that Woody’s comedic zenith with Annie Hall. Until then, there has been a structural crescendo (by structure I mean, in lack of a better word, the cohesion of the plot) and comical. After Annie, Woody Allen continued to enhance the formal side of his filmmaking, but his comic side suffered in the process. Exponentially. If Bukowski were still alive, if Bukowski didn’t despise Hollywood and its intervenients, if Bukowski had seen most of Allen’s movies, if Bukowski were to do a critical appreciation. Well, if every condition were to materialize itself, Bukowski would probably recycle one of his most well-known phrases, “As the spirit wanes the form appears”.
But if we simply force ourselves to forget the structural failure, excusable for a directors’ apprentice, Woody gives moments as only the comedy greats can. In a scene that basically creates recurrent image of the squeamish Jew opening his heart and soul to a psychiatrist, Fielding Mellish, sitting on the customary sofa, starts recalling his childhood with bits that look taken straight from his stand-up – a bigger complement is hard to find. Mellish tells us how he used to rub his fingers in the dirty parts of a pornographic magazine written in braille. He also told that his parents only beat him up once. It started on the 23rd of December of 1942 and ended in the spring of ’44. In that same rich sequence, he recalls a hilarious dream he had about the meaning of life, sanctity, life as a journey, etc. It goes like this: