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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Bananas [Blu-ray]

 

(Woody Allen, 1971)

 

Also available in Arrow Academy's Woody Allen: Six Films - 1971-1978 [Blu-ray]

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Rollins-Joffe Productions

Video: Arrow Video

 

Disc:

Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:21:58.914 

Disc Size: 32,631,222,228 bytes

Feature Size: 25,650,350,400 bytes

Video Bitrate: 37.51 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 14th, 2016

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras:

Trailer (3:16)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Before Woody Allen became known for serious, character driven comedies including Annie Hall and Manhattan he made screwball comedies and Bananas remains one of his most hilarious.

When bumbling product tester Fielding Mellish (Woody Allen) is jilted by his politically-aware girlfriend Nancy (Louise Lasser), he decides that an awareness-raising holiday is in order. So he heads to the tiny Central American republic of San Marcos, only to become kidnapped by anti-government rebels, triggering a series of unlikely events that sees Mellish himself become both President and the FBI s number one target.

Gag for gag and one-liner for one-liner, Woody Allen s second feature is one of the funniest that he ever made, satirising everything from relationships to dictatorships in the vein of his beloved Marx Brothers. There s some pointed political satire for those minded to look for it, but surreal whimsy rapidly takes over as San Marcos s new official language is deemed to be Swedish and J. Edgar Hoover disguises himself as a large black woman for the purposes of one of the maddest courtroom showdowns ever filmed.

 

 

The Film:

Allen's second feature, a tribute to the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup, is a wonderfully incoherent series of one-liners centred around a puny New York Jew's unwitting and unwilling involvement in a South American revolution. The revolutionary party's new policies are an absurd comment on the corruption of power, especially when everyone is informed that the official, non-decadent language of the country will be Swedish.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

While some people conveniently draw dividing lines through the films of Woody Allen, separating the comedies from the dramas, the youthful humor from the mature angst, a fresh viewing of 1971's Bananas reveals that the director's multi-faceted talents were there from the start, just hidden a little deeper beneath the comic surface.

Allen's second film as director (after Take the Money and Run (1969), and not counting What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966), his comic reworking of a Japanese spy film) is surely more laugh-oriented than some of his later works. But beneath the physical zaniness of Allen's antics - reminiscent of the great comics of the silent era -- is an artist wrestling with larger issues of mortality, morality and, of course, sexual frustration. The beauty of Bananas is how effortlessly it veers from slapstick to Dostoyevskian gloom to Dadaist absurdity, without ever slowing its manic pace.

Bananas was the first film over which Allen exercised near-complete creative control; a privilege afforded few filmmakers - one he has carefully protected over the years. The story emerged from a project Allen and co-writer Mickey Rose had developed in 1966 entitled Don Quixote U.S.A.. The film was conceived as a vehicle for Robert Morse (The Loved One, 1965), and involved an American Peace Corps member who finds himself stranded in a Caribbean dictatorship. When it finally reached the screen as Bananas, one can hardly imagine anyone else in the central role.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Bananas is the oldest Woody Allen film in Arrow's set. But it looks decent in 1080P. The transfer is, again, dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. Outdoor sequences look quite strong and bright - overall it may be a shade muted. It's neither particularly dynamic nor glossy but grain structure is well-supported and the overall image is clean with occasional depth. This Blu-ray is technically flawless and the film's appearance is probably akin to the original theatrical presentation.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Bananas Blu-ray uses a robust linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 24-bits. The audio tone is bouncy and hectic. Augmenting the music of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture in E Flat, Op.49 and Victor Herbert's Naughty Marietta (played and sung on a record during the torture scene) we have a score by Marvin Hamlisch's (The Swimmer, Behind the Candelabra, The Informant). It all sounds quite strong.  There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

Only a 3-minute trailer (that somehow takes up 6 Gig!) - no liner notes but exclusive to the Woody Allen: Six Films - 1971-1978 [Blu-ray] collection are Annie Hall and a 100-page hardback book featuring new and archive writing on all the films by Woody Allen, Michael Brooke, Johnny Mains, Kat Ellinger, John Leman Riley, Hannah Hamad and Brad Stevens.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Bananas is Woody's most embraceable feature for many. It's like a screwball comedy loaded with gags and silliness. Intellectually subtleties exist but are at a minimum. It's memorable and great fun. The Arrow Academy Blu-ray provides another technically robust HD presentation providing further promoting their Woody Allen: Six Films - 1971-1978 [Blu-ray] collection. It's a worthy part of the set and the best home theater presentation available for the film.  Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

September 9th, 2016

 

 

Also available in Arrow Academy's Woody Allen: Six Films - 1971-1978 [Blu-ray]


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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