Woody Allen's second film as a director, co-writer and star takes parody to the extreme with a brilliant send-up of everything from relationships to dictatorships. An early example of what Allen called his "slapdash" approach to comedy, Bananas' broad, fast humor and rapid-fire witticisms form a dazzling kaleidoscope of "inspired ingenuity and comic artistry" (Look). When bumbling product-tester, Fielding Mellish (Allen) is jilted by his girlfriend, Nancy (Louise Lasser),he heads to the tiny republic of San Marcos for a vacation only to become kidnapped by rebels! Oncethe band of rebels seizes power, their leader goes crazy, and they replace him with Mellish, thinking he can save the country. But when Mellish is nabbed by the FBI, he is put on trial for subversionand in a side-splitting courtroom showdownincluding the most hilarious self-cross examination everWoody Allen proves beyond a doubt that he is not only our most gifted satirist he's a master comic artist.
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The movie is about Fielding Mellisch (Allen),a neurotic man who doesn't know what he wants to do with his life and he meets and falls for Louise Lasser's liberal, anti establishment character that wants to go to a South American country to protest for a revolution that's taking place there. They break up and Allen goes to the country by himself and ends up joining the revolution by accident and then becoming their president. The scenes in the South American country (actually Puerto Rico) are the best in the movie.
This movie was sup[posed to be released on Bluray, but, all that was released on Bluray was a Region B (UK) disc, this one, so I ordered and received it. Fortunately I have a player that is region free. The movie played well on my player and was shipped expeditiously by the seller. I'm not a fan of Woody Allen's later movies (everything after Sleeper and Take the Money and Run) because they just lacked the slapstick humor of his earlier films. This one is his best work.
Bananas is a much more fully-formed movie. It is also a well-realized satire that, with a few adjustments, could have been released yesterday. The humor doesn't seem dated, perhaps because global politics is still such a mess. And if you or someone you know have been involved in leftist activism, you can't help but laugh at the sympathetic parodies depicted herein.
Allen went on to make great dramas, nostalgic comedies, more straightforward modern-life situation comedies, and various combinations of these. But all this work rested on a foundation that his early movies laid. If you want to see a movie that cemented his place as an eccentric director of outrageous comedies thrusting a neurotic, self-absorbed nebbish into situations beyond his depth (which I believe is the basis for all his later work), this is the place to go. This movie is definitive Allen.