FT Top 100 Films

There are people who say that they only like Woody Allen’s early funny movies. Good luck to them i say, though I sometimes goggle when taht actually means anything before Love And Death. For such people Bananas is the pinacle of Allen’s career, and whilst I like it a lot, it is a minor Allen work.

As a political comedy it has very little teeth. Its take on the junta vs junta non-stop revolutions of Central America may well have been ripped from the headlines, but that is about all it is ripped from. No communism or Cuba jokes here, rather the everyman (or slightly less that everyman) becoming a revolutionary hero. As it happens that plot only takes up about half the film, the rest being disjointed sketch material (of which the opening office gym gag is priceless).

What Bananas does remind us is what a good physical comedian Woody Allen is. The opening sequence, where he demonstrates the use of the office gym, is surreal gags coupled with pin point timing. Allen is also well away that leaving himself in the background whilst the gag plays over him is the best way of stealing the attention. People who do not like Allen for his neurotic persona should love Bananas, because it is quite clear that Allen does not like it either. Ironically though, whilst its politics are about as deep as the filling in a Pukka Pie, he got it spot on. The CIA and other US departments were constantly assasinating and agitating in the region. Perhaps they would have done better if they had let Allen do the job for them.