If Woody Allen has one directing skill which is better than the others, it is his ability to choose music from the era in which a film is set. Bullets Over Broadway is set in the roaring 20s and the music, both in selection and sound, is perfect.
David Shalyne (John Cusack), a Greenwich Village playwright, makes a deal with his agent (Jack Warden) to have his new play produced by underworld king Nick Valenti (Joe Viterelli). The one catch is Valenti's moll, Olive Neal (Jennifer Tilly), must play a significant role in the show. Sheldon Flender (Rob Riener) is a philosophical writer who hangs around sidewalk cafes and believes work of true artists only come to light after they are dead.
Tracy Ullman and Jim Broadbent are players in the playwright's drama. Ellen the girlfriend (Mary Louise-Parker, Fried Green Tomatoes) takes second place to the work in Shalyne's life. She is perfectly case as is Diane Wiest as the pompous leading lady, Helen Sinclair.
The best part is saved for Cheech (Chazz Palminteri) who is assigned to be Olive's bodyguard. After a short time, he begins to suggest brilliant rewrites for the play and assumes ownership of the script. The problem is that Olive, whom he is sworn to protect, is the one flaw in the production.
Allen moves his characters in and out of their various traumas and crises with such fluid motion that they don't appear as neurotic as they are. The farce in true life and the play are almost believable.
Tilly is the one exception. Her character wears quickly and becomes as much of an irritant to the audience as she is to the playwrights.
The music, night club scenes, sets and the Allen quality are all intact for this trip back to the 20s.
|Bullets Over Broadway||B+||B+|