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" appro... more »ach 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.« less
"From the outrageous name "Fielding Mellish" to the screwball humor in this MAD-magazine type antiwar satire, this is one for the Best of Woody pile. The film grabs you from the first gag, and never lets go. It is laugh-out-loud hillarious with whacky situational scenes as a simple NYC boy gets embroiled in a rebellion in a small South American country (the rebels did not have a good tailor though, but couldn't wait). I was surprised to see a very young pre-fame Sylvester Stallone in a minor side role as a subway crook. The denouement of the movie is somewhat of a let-down (it may be me) but that's no reason to miss out on this superb comedy."
A wonderful political/social satire---classic early Woody Al
D. Pawl | Seattle | 09/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw BANANAS on the local Public Broadcasting channel in Seattle. It's honestly surprising to me that people don't talk more about this film. I happen to think that it's funny, enlightening and very intelligent. What's more, it has chilling parallels with the state of politically revolutionary and anti-American Latin American governments of today (and no, I am not "naming names"---that would only get me into hot water here, and that isn't the purpose of the review). Fielding Mellish (Woody Allen) is a gawky product tester who falls in love with a politically active young woman, Nancy (Louise Lasser--Allen's first wife before the age of Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow or Soon-Yi Previn). Though very drawn to her, Mellish is not able to truly capture the young woman's heart. Why? Because he isn't as politically involved as she would like him to be. Well, all that changes when the awkward (not so young) man takes a life-altering trip to San Marcos, a small island nation falling under the thumb of pronounced political upheaval. Their leader, with strong leanings toward dictatorship and supression, has been assasinated and everything is in flux. It is during Mellish's trip that a very unlikely and (perhaps) profoundly unbelievable political shift occurs. I won't ruin it for you. You will have to see it for yourself. I will tell you that as many years as it has been since BANANAS' 1971 release, it still remains a very bold and wonderful showcase for Allen's irrerepresible physical comedy, as well as the quirky/neurotic brand of incidental insight that he is known best for today."
Jokes and Visual Gags at the Speed of Thought. Funny!
B. Marold | Bethlehem, PA United States | 04/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"`Bananas' is cowriter / director Woody Allen's second film (after `Take the Money and Run') in which he writes, directs, and acts. It has all the trademarks of his classic comedies such as visual gags, guest interviews (including Howard Cosell and other leading announcers for ABC's `Wide World of Sports'), one liners, obscure references to other movies, long lists of surprising cameos, and inept sexual encounters.
In fact, one small thrill from this movie is to see Sylvester Stallone in a minor, nonspeaking role.
I have not seen `Bananas' for years before just now getting the DVD and I'm pleasantly reminded of how many Allen scenes I remember from this movie, with no recollection that the scene came from `Bananas'. My favorite, which I always thought was from `Take the Money and Run' is when he directs a parking car so that it rams into the car behind it. This seems like an almost trivial piece of business until you match it up with Allen's character, which is simply not necessarily a nice person. Through so many movies, including some of the very best such as `Manhattan' and `Stardust Memories', Allen's character is neither stupid, sexually inept, intellectual, or particularly admirable. But then, Hamlet and Macbeth were not the most sterling of characters, yet their personalities were a great basis for drama.
The liner notes to this DVD claim that there is a significant influence from the Marx brothers on this movie, but aside from the fact that the Marx brothers probably influenced every American comedian working since 1935, I really don't see a big connection to `Bananas'. Even the hypothesis that the movie was titled in homage to the Marx brothers `Coconuts' I think is a bit of a stretch. The other thing they cite is the appearance of a harp player in main character Fielding Mellish's hotel rooms closet. But then, there is an even more obvious quote from the famous marble steps scene in the famous Russian film `Battleship Potemkin', but I don't see the liner notes claiming a kinship with the works of Sergei Eisenstein.
On the other hand, just as I suspected scenes in `Play It Again, Sam' being quoted in `Animal House', I sense a borrowing of one or more scenes from `Bananas' by the filmmakers who did `Network'. I have a really strong sense that either `Network' was quoting Allen or vice versa.
Unlike almost all of Allen's films starting with `Annie Hall', this and other early Allen films have virtually no socially redeeming value except for the fact that they are very, very funny and they enable us to see the funny side, if that is at all possible, of things like the `Bay of Pigs' invasion and our various incursions into Haiti and the Dominican Republic. So, If I had to choose to be locked up with but one Woody Allen movie, it would definitely be `Annie Hall' or later. I simply cannot see the virtue of the attitude parodied in `Stardust Memories' of preferring the earlier, `funny' movies. I may not be especially keen on `Interiors' or `September', but I do prefer the later comedies such as `Shadows and Fog', `Curse of the Jade Scorpion', and `Mighty Aphrodite' than the earlier ones with virtually no meaningful plot.
That does not mean they are not very funny movies. On average, I think they are at least as funny as most of Mel Brooks movies (except for `Blazing Saddles' and `The Producers') and I think they succeed with more laughs per reel by resorting to fewer improbabilities and downright silliness than does friend Brooks.
In fact, in the liner notes, Allen is quoted as saying that `Bananas' is a movie where his only concern was to be funny. There may be one behind the scenes parallel with the Marx brothers in that lots of both Marx brothers movies and Allen movies borrow from their stage routines. Another parallel is that both Allen and the Marxes were incredibly physical, so there may be just a little more Groucho here than I was originally inclined to admit.
If all you want is comedy, or you are a died in the wool Woodman fan, this is a movie for you! If you like `Annie Hall' but are cool in `Take the Money and Run', you may want to pass on this movie. "
Still relevant after all these years (1970)
L. A. Corr | Colorado Springs, CO United States | 11/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Good old-fashioned slapstick comedy, Bananas illustrates the dictatorship to revolution to new dictatorship cycle of third world - and worldwide - bureaucracies. The most hoot-aloud hilarious of Woody Allen's films."
Bernard Chapin | CHICAGO! USA | 10/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is not Woody Allen's best movie, but it is, by far, his greatest comedy. It even surpasses Sleeper with its wit and bite. Actually, in my humble opinion, it is the finest comedy of all time. As a spoof, it cannot be surpassed, from the Mary Tyler Moore M on his wall to Lasser saying that "women's rights don't automatically mean castration." It's the most giggle packed 80 minutes in cinemagraphic history.
Speaking of Louise Lasser, Allen is able to construct his own reality, as in real life, she becomes his wife. His satiric portrayal of television is original and fantastic. There is no better vehicle for the display of his humor than this film. It's practically a stand up routine. The one-liners are fantastic. I have never seen a film in which each frame brought more guffaws than this one. Howard Cosell has never been more enjoyable and endearing than when he covers the assassination of the San Marcos dictator or the finale with Allen. My favorite scene is the one with the interpreter translating English into English with a Spanish accent. I think I laughed about that for several days. The Lenny Bruce-esque trial of Mellish is the best sent up of a courtroom ever. Miss America testifies against him as the jury passes around a joint. She condemns him saying, "Differences of opinion should be tolerated but not when they're that different." Hey, this one even features a young Sly Stallone with National Review depicted as a pornographic magazine. It cannot possibly get any better."