“Broadway Danny Rose” (1984)

By Daniella Nichinson, Staff Writer

The film opens with a group of comics at the Carnegie Delicatessen. They complain about their jokes not working and that it’s impossible anymore to work without owning a car. Finally, one of them brings up Danny Rose (Woody Allen), an unlucky talent manager. He has the greatest story about Danny Rose, and that is when Broadway Danny Rose begins its spiral of absurd antics and touching romance.

The Carnegie Delicatessen plays an important role in the telling of the story: it is where the story begins and where it ends. It isn’t anything sensational or overbearing, like the Empire State Building. It is subtle and doesn’t take away from the scenes surrounding it, but is prominent enough to capture an air of beauty. This is the kind of New York that Woody wants us to see, not the one overrun with tourists and visitors alike. It’s a relatively behind-the-scenes look at a city that many only know from postcards or television.

Though part of the film takes place in Jersey, it is still filled with nuances of Woody Allen’s own perception of the New York he grew up in. We see Mia Farrow’s character, Tina, visit a clairvoyant several times, something that Woody may have seen once or twice growing up in 1940s Brooklyn. Though the places where Lou Canova (Nick Apollo Forte) performs are described as “joints,” there is still a feeling of class about them. His last show, that we see, is at the Waldorf, filled with men in tuxedos, women in gowns and shimmering lights. In the late ‘60s New York, this is a place where everyone would want to be.  

Woody Allen’s Danny Rose is the kind of character who is difficult to discourage. Everything with him is composed of over-the-top zeal and hand gestures to match. He represents the way that Woody feels about New York: even being chased by two gangsters, he can still find joy in the city. Woody brings to life the profession of theatrical management through Danny Rose. Though he does not present it as particularly glorious, how much better can you do than work on Broadway and live in the center of New York?  

This is one of Woody’s films that has, what Hollywood would call, a happy ending. After watching Danny attempt to corral Tina and bring her back to Lou, his one major client and devout friend, only to have Lou betray him, it is extremely satisfying that he gets the girl in the end. Danny and Tina reunite in front of the Carnegie Delicatessen, the place where it all began. It is a simple gesture, but it results in a heartfelt ending for this tale set in New York.

One of Woody’s favorite films of his own, Broadway Danny Rose is as funny as it is sentimental. The film isn’t necessarily the first one that comes to mind when thinking of Woody Allen’s extensive relationship with New York, but it, surprisingly, shows the city in a less glamorous light, while still managing to ease the audience into falling in love with the city through Danny Rose.


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