Theatrical release poster by Jack Davis
|Directed by||Woody Allen|
|Produced by||Jack Grossberg|
|Written by||Woody Allen
|Music by||Marvin Hamlisch|
|Cinematography||Andrew M. Costikyan|
|Edited by||Ron Kalish
|Distributed by||United Artists|
Bananas is a 1971 American comedy film directed by Woody Allen and starring Allen, Louise Lasser, and Carlos Montalban. Written by Allen and Mickey Rose, the film is about a bumbling New Yorker who, after being dumped by his activist girlfriend, travels to a tiny Latin American nation and becomes involved in its latest rebellion. Parts of the plot are based on the book Don Quixote, U.S.A. by Richard P. Powell. Filmed on location in New York City, Lima, Peru, and Puerto Rico, the film is number 78 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies".
Fielding Mellish (Woody Allen) is the main character, but he does not appear until after the opening credits. The cold open, which featured the assassination of the president of the fictional "banana republic" of San Marcos that completed a coup d'état bringing Gen. Emilio Molina Vargas (Carlos Montalban) to power, sets up the situation that Mellish would enter later in the movie. The scene was in the form of a championship boxing telecast on Wide World of Sports, with Don Dunphy as the host and Howard Cosell as the commentator.
Mellish is a neurotic blue collar man who tries to impress social activist Nancy (Louise Lasser) by trying to get in touch with the revolution in San Marcos. He visits the republic and attempts to show his concern for the native people. However, nearly killed by the local caudillo, only to be saved by the revolutionaries, he is then indebted to help them. Mellish clumsily learns how to be a revolutionary. When the revolution is successful, the Castro-style leader goes mad, forcing the rebels to place Mellish as their President.
When traveling back to the U.S. to obtain financial aid, he reunites with his activist ex-girlfriend and is exposed. In a classic courtroom scene, Mellish tries to defend himself from a series of incriminating witnesses, including a reigning Miss America and a middle-aged African-American woman who facetiously claims to be J. Edgar Hoover and is taken seriously by the whole court. One of the witnesses does provide testimony favorable to Mellish, but the court clerk twists it to make him appear thoroughly dishonest. Mellish is eventually sentenced to prison, but his sentence is suspended on the condition that he does not move into the judge's neighborhood. Nancy then agrees to marry him. The film ends with the between-the-covers consummation of their marriage, an event that was over much more quickly than Nancy had anticipated. Like the opening scene, it was accompanied by Cosell providing commentary.
- Woody Allen as Fielding Mellish
- Louise Lasser as Nancy
- Carlos Montalban as Gen. Emilio Molina Vargas
- Natividad Abascal as Yolanda
- Jacobo Morales as Esposito
- Miguel Ángel Suárez as Luis
- David Ortiz as Sanchez
- René Enríquez as Diaz
- Jack Axelrod as Arroyo
- Howard Cosell as Himself
- Roger Grimsby as Himself
- Don Dunphy as Himself
- Charlotte Rae as Mrs. Mellish
- Stanley Ackerman as Dr. Mellish
- Dan Frazer as Priest
- Dorothi Fox as J. Edgar Hoover
- Martha Greenhouse as Dr. Feigen
- Axel Anderson as Man Tortured
- Tigre Pérez as Perez
- Baron De Beer as British Ambassador
- Arthur Hughes as Judge
- John Braden as Prosecutor
- Ted Chapman as Policeman
- Dagne Crane as Sharon
- Eddie Barth as Paul
- Nicholas Saunders as Douglas
- Conrad Bain as Semple
- Allen Garfield as Man on Cross
- Sylvester Stallone as Subway Thug (uncredited)
- Mary Jo Catlett as Woman in Hotel Lobby Cheering Honeymoon (uncredited)
According to an interview in the notes of the film's DVD release, Allen said that there is absolutely no blood in the film (even during executions) because he wanted to keep the light comedic tone of the film intact.
Allen and Lasser were married from 1966 to 1970 and were divorced when the film was made.
The title is a pun, "bananas" being slang for "crazy", as well as being a reference to the phrase "banana republic" describing the film's setting. The title also may be a respectful nod to The Cocoanuts, the first film by the Marx Brothers, by whom Allen was heavily influenced at the time. However, when Allen was asked why the film was called Bananas, his reply was, "Because there are no bananas in it." In Don Quixote, U.S.A., the novel by Richard P. Powell that served as a source for Bananas, the protagonist was an agronomist specializing in bananas.
Vincent Canby of The New York Times praised the film, saying "Allen's view of the world is fraught with everything except pathos, and it's a view I happen to find very funny. Here is no little man surviving with a wan smile and a shrug, but a runty, wise-mouthed guy whose initial impulses toward cowardice seem really heroic in the crazy order of the way things are." He concluded, "Any movie that attempts to mix together love, Cuban revolution, the C.I.A., Jewish mothers, J. Edgar Hoover and a few other odds and ends (including a sequence in which someone orders 1,000 grilled cheese sandwiches) is bound to be a little weird—and most welcome."
American Film Institute recognition
- 2000: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs #69
- "Bananas". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
- Lax, Eric (1991). Woody Allen: A Biography. New York: Knopf. p. 220. ISBN 978-0394583495.
- "Locations for Bananas". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
- Warren, James. "Press Goes 'Bananas,'" Chicago Tribune, Sunday, October 30, 1994.
- "Full cast and crew for Bananas". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
- "Bananas". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
- Canby, Vincent (April 29, 1971). "Woody Allen Leads a 'Bananas' Revolution". The New York Times. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
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- Bananas at the Internet Movie Database
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- Bananas at Rotten Tomatoes