Inspiration

 

-One of Woody’s regular dining spots was Rao’s, a tiny Italian restaurant at 114th Street in East Harlem with home-style food and only eight tables, which was always filled week’s in advance by celebrity customers. Both he and Mia enjoyed the owner’s daughter-in-law, Anna Rao, a woman with a towering bouffant hairstyle, stiletto heels, dark glasses, a cigarette hanging out of her mouth, and wry sense of humor. [4]

 

-When one evening Mia remarked that she had always wanted to play that type of woman, Woody was happily amazed. Never would he have imagined such unusual casting. Soon, however, he was busy working on a screenplay with an Anna Rao-type character for Mia. [4]

Nick Apollo Forte

 

-Woody had trouble casting the part of Lou Canova. After seeing scores of candidates and even considering well-known Italian actors, such as Robert De Niro and Danny Aiello, nobody fit the part. In desperation, his casting director searched Colony Records on Broadway for an album that looked schmaltzy. One of the them, “Can I Depend on You?,” contained original songs, one entitled “Agit’s,” written by Nick Apollo Forte. After catching one of his acts, Nick was offered the part. [3]

 

-According to Forte, “They just went bananas over me.” As Jack Rollins remarked to him, “It’s a great day when you meet Woody but it was a better day when he met you.” [4]

 

-Forte never acted before. Woody typically did on average four  takes, but preferred two. One scene Woody did 50 takes with him. Usually Woody would have rewritten the part or simply fired the actor at that point. Forte wasn’t easily replaceable. Although hard for Woody, he pressed on. As a result, Forte received raves from critics. [4]

 

-His telephone didn’t stop ringing once the film came out. He was booked on The Tonight Show, got a 4 night a week gig at the Sands Hotel in Atlantic City and was offered a sitcom pilot from NBC. Unfortunately, after six months the phone stop ringing and he never got a Academy Award nomination.  [4]

 

-Forte was originally a fisherman and Connecticut-based singer on the side. He had never seen a Woody Allen film before he was cast, and to date has not made another picture. [3]

"Broadway Danny Rose" Screening Companion

-Released in United States January 27, 1984

-Runtime: 84 mins

-Production Company: Jack Rollins & Charles H. Joffe Productions

-Distributor: Orion Pictures Corporation

-Rated PG

- Budget $8 million (estimated) [1]

-Gross: $10.6 million [1]

- Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1

-Sweeter, more gently humorous, and more hopeful than his later film “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (1989), Woody Allen's “Broadway Danny Rose” covers similar moral ground - the notion of guilt and responsibility - and although not nearly as big a critical and commercial hit as the former film, it remains one of his most admired movies and Danny one of Allen's most likeable on-screen creations. [3]

 

-In its wacky comic way (with images that call to mind Fellini and a tender pathos worthy of Chaplin), “Broadway Danny Rose” has a lot to say about the power of imagination and the need for a positive attitude in a world where nice guys finish last and people without morals rise to the top. It's also a loving homage to a now-vanished type of show business. [3]

 

-Danny’s entire tale is actually being told by other characters in the film. The movie opens, closes, and periodically returns to the Carnegie Deli, where an assortment of New York show business veterans are trading stories about Danny Rose, a man who, to them, is equal parts legend and cautionary tale. [2]

 

-A lot of the charm of the film lies in its offbeat casting. Allen himself does some of his best acting as Danny, particularly in the scene where he is betrayed by Lou and Tina, and Mia Farrow has never gone further outside her usual range and image. In a blonde bouffant, with padding under her clothes, and hiding behind dark glasses (a "very, very brave thing for her to do," acting the whole picture without using her eyes, Allen said), she is almost unrecognizable. The storytellers in the deli are all real comics with one exception, Allen's own manager, Jack Rollins, who is said to be the inspiration for the Danny character. [3]

 

-"Watching “Broadway Danny Rose,” which comes in between the delightful Zelig and the whimsical Purple Rose of Cairo, I began to realize something I never previously noticed. The early 1980s were an incredibly nice time in Woody Allen’s life, or at least his career. For all my talk of the darkness seeping into his 1977-1982 films, from 1983-1985 he was delivering a lot of kind-hearted good times." [2]

 

-"Sometimes it’s exhausting, and even grating, watching him flounder so relentlessly, but it’s ultimately in service of his character — worrying and talking are the two things Danny Rose does best, and they’re what make him so endearingly desperate. I’ve discussed previously Allen’s likability in underdog roles, and Danny Rose is an epic underdog, whose hard luck has become New York show business legend." [2]

 

-“Broadway Danny Rose” is ultimately a nice, fun movie. It thoroughly earns its PG rating — there is no sex, no questionable language, and despite a subplot about the mafia trying to kill someone, no violence that ventures outside the realm of cartoonishness. It’s also incredibly well-crafted. The action moves fluidly and entertainingly from scene to scene, and the corners of the film are filled with easy-to-overlook gems (Lou’s singing, for example, is the perfect mix of impressive and cheesy, and the storytellers furnish their anecdotes with a sharp eye for authentic details). However, sandwiched amidst some of the best movies ever made, Broadway Danny Rose, like its title character, is likely doomed to be a perpetual underdog. [2]

 

Trivia

 

-The reason Mia Farrow wears sunglasses most of the film is that Woody Allen did not feel she could pass herself as a tough Italian "broad," so he had her wear the sunglasses most of the film to hide her eyes, making her seem more sultry and mysterious. The only time she removes the sunglasses is when her character is supposed to be more vulnerable. [1]

 

-The deli owner who informs Danny Rose about the fate of one the characters in the movie was really the co-owner of the legendary Carnegie Deli where the scene was shot. He was a retired comic and actor who retained his SAG card named Leo Steiner. He was only cast after the actors Woody Allen brought to the location were inadequate. [1]

 

-Danny Aiello was so devastated at not getting the part, he went into a room and cried for two weeks, he said. Allen compensated by giving him plum parts in The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) and Radio Days (1987). [3]

-Finally, one can't overlook the part played by the Carnegie Deli as the central location for the movie. The owner, Leo Steiner, played himself in the deli scenes, and although the place had to be closed for two entire days to accommodate filming, Steiner didn't complain; in fact, he said after the film's release, business was better than ever. [3]

 

-In the movie, Danny has a sandwich named after him at the deli - cream cheese on bagel with marinara sauce (a play on the merged worlds of guilty Jew Danny and brash Italian Tina). Later, Steiner created his own Danny Rose specialty for the menu - corned beef, pastrami and coleslaw with a customized doggy bag. Although many celebrities have had sandwiches named for them at the Carnegie Deli, Danny Rose and Dagwood (from the "Blondie" comic strip) are the only fictional characters with that distinction. [3]

Critical Reception:

 

-Despite a seemingly crowd-pleasing plot and tone, the movie only made about $10 million (a little less than Zelig, and a fraction of Manhattan or Annie Hall). [2]

 

-Broadway Danny Rose was Allen’s second movie to debut at the prestigious Cannes film festival (after Manhattan). His next four films would also end up debuting there. [2]

 

-Woody Allen got two more Academy Award nominations for this movie — Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (his first nominations since 1979’s Manhattan). He also won the best screenplay awards from the British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA) and the Writer’s Guild of America. [2]

 

-100% Rotten Tomatoes rating

[1] – imdb.com

[2] – "Every Woody Allen Movie" web site

[3] – Turner Movie Classics

[4] - "The Unruly Life of Woody Allen" by Marion Meade