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From the mind of George Lucas, Radioland Murders is a star-studded, madcap murder-mystery that brings back the heyday of live radio and will keep you laughing and guessing until the show-stopping finale! An all-star ensemble cast comes together in this side-splitting whodunit that lovingly recreates an era known for its big band sound and art deco look.
This is a manic, crazy and fun film, largely due to the Keaton-like performance of Brian Benben. Mary Stuart Masterson is known for great dramatic talent, but this is the first comedy I've seen her in, and she's a natural. This was directed by Mel Smith; is it the same Mel Smith that had a small but hysterical part in "The Princess Bride"? I wonder if this film was given a bad rap because it came out the same year as Woody Allen's brilliant "Bullets Over Broadway" (1994). There are comparisons to be made, if only for period and music. Otherwise, this film takes on its very own character. A wonderful ensemble cast , including Ned Beatty, Michael Lerner, Jeffrey Tambor & Christopher Lloyd, must be commended. Cameo appearances from George Burns and Rosemary Clooney are wonderful. Whatever this film lacks in plot, is made up for with energetic performances, quick editing, and loads of great one-liners. There's also a lot of great period music to entertain. I DO enjoy this film a lot, and at the reasonable price and a great 2.35:1 Widescreen, the DVD is a bargain. If you like "silly", you'll love this. And Brian Benben is marvelous. Too bad the stuck-up critics didn't like it. We, the audience, know better.
That's the bottom line here, you have to be mentally fast to keep up with a movie like this! Ever wonder why movie critics always love those slow, foreign movies? Because they're not all that smart! Heck, that's why they're movie critics, they probably can't do anything else besides watch movies and talk about them! This is a truly funny movie with great music and style, and I'm glad George Lucas can afford to do what he wants nowadays because he's obviously got the talent. I hope he throws some more comedies at us when he's done with Star Wars and maybe a new Indy picture! This is a very fast paced movie, but that was the whole idea! That's the way it was! His comedic take on the Phantom of the Opera is hilarious thanks to his great casting, it's just a matter of can you follow a movie that's that fast and noisy! This movie is a real rollercoaster ride, as it was meant to be! I'm 25 and love it, and my sister is 15 and loves it even more than me!!!! Thanks George, I understand what you were doing and some of us LOVE it!
As far as I'm concerned, you can ignore the plot of Radioland Murders; it's thinner than a sheet of tissue paper. However, what you shouldn't ignore is the marvelous inside look at what life during the Golden Age of Radio was like for everyone involved with the medium.
The premise is that in 1939 WBN, a Chicago-based radio 'superstation,' is attempting to launch a national network to compete with NBC, CBS, Dumont and Mutual. (Note: one thing that makes me as a fan of old-time radio grit his teeth is the movie's constant reference to launching a 'fourth' network when in fact there were already four - five, if you count NBC Blue and NBC Red (later ABC) as two separate networks. It's a glaring mistake and one that could have been fixed with one lousy line of dialogue!) During the inaugural network broadcast, a series of murders of important players in the enterprise takes place within the walls of the station. Suspicion falls on the head of the station's writing team, who is about to be divorced by his wife, the station's assistant manager. He has to figure out who the murderer is and solve the case, while simultaneously staying out of the hands of the cops AND continuing to write half a dozen different radio scripts.
As I said, a thin plot. However, what makes this movie worth watching is the look behind the radio broadcasts of the period. The attention paid to authenticity is remarkable, not least because of the homages to many Golden Age radio entertainers. Among those honored are Orson Welles (The Shadow), Gene Autry (The Singing Cowboy), Spike Jones and his City Slickers (the interpretation of Kacheturian's "Sabre Dance" done on tuned bottles is right up Spike's alley), Cab Calloway and Glenn Miller.Read more ›
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I was into amateur DX AM and shortwave radio once, and I really got a charge out of this movie. I could figure out that the radio station WBN in Chicago was supposed to be WGN-just like the TV series WKRP in Cincinatti is supposed to be WKRC in Cincinatti! There were plenty of pretty chorus girls and fast moving slapstick humor and action. You had to be alert to catch all the jokes! As I was doing a personal study of the prophet Ezekiel at the time the weird line inserted into a radio play dialog-"Die, you infidel Dog, die!-The Curse of Nebuchadnezzar be upon you!" really cracked me up since the prophecy of Ezekiel was set in ancient Babylon when Nebuchadnezzar was emperor. There is, of course, no such curse! In real life I heard on a history TV show that the man who invented TV in the 30's had it patented; and yet no one bought his patent; but the corporations waited until the patent expired and waited after WWII and then took the invention from the man for free. This is a real danger of producing intellectual property! Obviously the mystery killer in the movie had a genuine legitimate grudge!
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