Bananas (Woody Allen) - 1971 (Co-written by Mickey Rose)

Woody stars as a product tester (execucisor, stereo coffin) Fielding Mellish who becomes the president (#4) of San Marcos after the rebels overthrow the government and rebel leader Esposito (El Presidente #3) loses his sanity.  Esposito ("Let us sing the song of the rebels.") wanted to impose three new laws on the people of San Marcos: 1. Official language is now Swedish; 2. Change underwear every half hour and wear it on the outside; 3. All children are now 16.  As the new leader, Woody dons a really bad red beard and flies to the United States to get money for the struggling country.  Instead, he is tried and convicted of 12 counts of treason in a rather strange trial featuring testimony by Miss America and J. Edgar Hoover in disguise.  The sentence is suspended when Fielding agrees that he will not move into the judge's neighborhood.

The movie starts and ends with Howard Cosell (1918-1995) reporting for Wide World of Sports.  First he covers the assassination of El Presente (#1).  At the end he does play-by-play of Woody's honeymoon with revolution-groupie, Louise Lasser (Woody's ex-wife, 1966-1969).  While Cosell is reporting, the following is scrolled at the bottom of the screen: "Astronauts have landed on the moon and have established the first all-Protestant cafeteria."  Woody tells Howard that he will be ready for another bout by the "late spring" to the chagrin of Louise. [Diane Keaton was with Woody during the filming of Bananas in Puerto Rico but she did not appear in the movie.]

Ms. Lasser appeared in five movies written by Woody Allen - What's New, Pussycat?, Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Everything You Always Wanted to Know ... and Stardust Memories.  She was very funny in Bananas but she will always be known as the star of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.  She was also a writer and performer in What's Up, Tiger Lily?

This may have been the first movie to be interrupted by a newscast that is interrupted for a commercial parody.  The priest (Dan Frazer) is urging a man in church to switch to New Testament cigarettes.  Frazer also played a psychiatrist in Take the Money and Run. 

The best jokes occur in San Marcos.  El Presidente (#2) is torturing one of the rebels by making him listen to the entire score of Naughty Marietta.  Woody meets with El Presidente #2 wearing a suit with tailor chalk marks on it.  After joining the rebels, Woody leads a few of them to a cafe where he places a take-out order of 1,000 grilled cheese sandwiches, 300 tunafish sandwiches, 200 BLTs and six wheelbarrows full of coleslaw.  After the coup by the rebels, El Presidente's (#2) loyalists line up to take-a-number for their execution by firing squad.

Look for Sylvester Stallone and Danny DeVito in very small parts.  Charlotte Rae plays Woody's mother.  His parents are both surgeons who are still hoping that he will come into the family business.  He visits them during a surgery-in-progress where he takes the scalpel but just can't get the hang of it. [JAM 10/14/2009]

["When you're doing the kind of comedy, like Bananas, that doesn't have a plot, you're dependent on doing a tour de force.  You have to be hilarious from the start and hilarious again and again; an hour goes by and you don't get any payoff from stuff you planted an hour ago."  Conversations with Woody Allen - June 1974]

["It was boring being in Puerto Rico.  There wasn't anything to do.  The food wasn't good.  The weather was hot and humid.  The moviehouse leaked and I found a dead mouse in my room." Conversations with Woody Allen - November 2005]