Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Broadway Danny Rose


… is a third-rate talent agent who represents fourth- and fifth-rate talent. Maybe that’s too harsh. Maybe the talent is sixth-rate, but Danny himself is not so bad. He’s a hard worker, and he is loyal. And he really believes in the losers he handles, like the one-legged tap dancer, the balloon-tying artists, the stuttering ventriloquist, or the blind magician. He works hard to book them into a better grade of toilet. (He has an office in the famous Brill Building, where this was filmed!) This black and white story is related by a group of real-life comics sitting together in the back of the Carnegie Deli—

—where I have eaten half a dozen times. It’s a hole in the wall but quite famous. When you eat at the Carnegie it’s the opposite of that old Wendy’s schtick about “Where’s the beef?” In this case it’s “Where’s the bread?” If you order a chopped liver sandwich what you get is a pound of chopped liver and two pitiful little slices of bread. If you order a combo, say, pastrami and tongue, you don’t get a half pound of each, you get a pound of each. It’s pretty ridiculous, except of course you can take the leftovers home. It will last you a week. They have specialty sandwiches, like the Carnegie Haul, Nova on Sunday, The Egg and Oy, and Fifty Ways to Love Your Liver.

… anyway, Danny has one act that shows promise. His name is Lou Canova (Nick Apollo Forte, who wrote his own songs), and he’s a fat, egotistical, alcoholic piece of shit who had one hit back in the day when things like “Volare” and “Papa Loves Mambo” and other ethnic crap like that was inexplicably popular. With the nostalgia craze, he suddenly has prospects again. He’s playing cruise ships, and bigger venues, and is booked into the Waldorf.

But the temperamental asshole insists that his current girlfriend (Mia Farrow, doing very well as a shrill, tough Italian broad) be there, despite the fact that she currently hates him. Danny has to get them back together. In the process he gets the Italian mob after him. There is an extremely funny scene where he and Mia take refuge in a huge hangar where the floats from the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade are stored. There is gunfire, and a big tank of helium is punctured. Now the mobsters, Mia, and Danny are shouting in high, Mickey Mouse voices.

It should come as no surprise that, after a hit performance at the hotel, the asswipe singer abandons Danny for a more successful manager. This is a story about losers, not winners. It’s sad, but it has a good heart, and there is a ray of hope at the end. Danny is never going to be successful, but at least he has loyal friends. This is one of Woody’s best roles, ideally suited to him.