Bananas (1971)






Woody Allen, Louise Lasser, Carlos Montalban, Natividad Abascal, Jacobo Morales, Miguel Ángel Suárez, David Ortiz, René Enríquez, Jack Axelrod, Howard Cosell, Roger Grimsby, Don Dunphy, Charlotte Rae, Stanley Ackerman, Dan Frazer, Dorothi Fox, Martha Greenhouse, Axel Anderson, Tigre Pérez, Baron DE Beer, Arthur Hughes, John Braden, Ted Chapman, Dagne Crane, Eddie Barth, Nicholas Saunders, Conrad Bain, Allen Garfield, Sylvester Stallone, Mary Jo Catlett, Tino García


Dumped by his political activist girlfriend Nancy (Louise Lasser), nebbish New Yorker Fielding Mellish (Woody Allen) travels to a tiny Latin American nation and becomes involved in its latest rebellion.


Woody Allen's second feature as a director, Bananas is a clever, pretty crazy, and often hilarious film.

Once again Allen makes fun of the American television hungry for news, of any kind. With a generous amount of cynicism, and a pretty ridiculous story, he mocks TV news that aim exclusively to spectacularize an event, whether a public or a private moment - like in the final sequence of the consummation of the marriage.

The satire, however, goes beyond that, and also targets politics and power, which combined together make a man lose  the light of reason, thus leading to a fanaticism. The film also touches on the activism of the time, and the USA's involvement in Latin America politics - and nowadays in Middle East, I'd add.

For once, the Italian title - The Dictator of the Free State of Bananas - perfectly conveys the intent of the film, that is to show the confusion of those in power. 

The story, no matter how ridiculous, has tons of hilarious situations, like when Fielding Mellish is buying a porn magazine and tries to go unnoticed; or when Mellish is presented with the check at the end of the dinner with El President; or the fake translator repeating word by word what was being said, only with a Spanish accent. Also even the romantic subplot is interesting. 

The musical score is very catchy and fits perfectly the biting and smart dialogue. The acting is generally fine - Woody stands out of course - and there's a good chemistry between Allen and Louise Lasser, and there's also an uncredited and young Sylvester Stallone. 


Fielding Mellish: I once stole a pornographic book that was printed in braille. I used to rub the dirty parts.

Fielding Mellish: You cannot bash in the head of an American citizen without written permission from the State Department.

Semple: I'm sorry to disappoint you but I've known Fielding Mellish for years and he's a warm, wonderful human being.
Fielding Mellish: Uh, would the clerk read that statement back, please?
Prosecutor: I've known Fielding Mellish for years and he's a rotten, conniving, dishonest little rat.

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