Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Radio Days


There’s hardly anything you could call a plot in this movie … and it’s one of the great ones. Mia Farrow is a cigarette girl with a harsh, terrible accent straight off the streets. She takes voice lessons, and ends up a radio personality. That’s it for plot, and it’s just a small part of the movie. What it is, is an affectionate ode to old-time radio. Music, comedy, personalities, quiz shows, and most of all, drama.

I was just a few years too young to catch most of this stuff live, in my childhood. All I recall is the “Big John and Sparky” and the Don McNeill “Breakfast Club” shows every morning before I went off to second grade. No Shadow, no Jack Benny, no Johnny Dollar. I’ve heard them later, recorded, but I realize it’s not the same as sitting or lying around the big box radio and letting your imagination take over and fill in all the stuff that TV stuffs into your eyeballs.

Woody Allen remembers it all, how it affected his family and the world, and brings it all to life wonderfully. There is a segment about the Orson Welles “War of the Worlds,” and one about two burglars who answer the phone one night, and win a house full of modern appliances, which of course they can’t collect. What we have here, really, is a collection of radio anecdotes, and they are all just marvelous. I can watch this one again and again and never get tired of it. The production design deserves a note, too. All the sets and costumes and such are perfect.