………I couldn’t resist a Woody Allen film set in Hollywood in the 1930s, but if I expected something more than a cursory look at life in cinema city, I was wrong.

It’s visually stylish  but Allen is running out of ideas for his plots. In Cafe Society, Jesse Eisenberg is so blatantly playing a Woody Allen character ( with all the usual mannerisms), it’s embarrassing.

He’s a youngster who leaves his home in New York to try his luck in Hollywood where his uncle (Steve Carell) is a big time talent agent.

He falls for his uncle’s secretary ( Kristen Stewart), and that’s the plot, with the unnecessary addition of another uncle who is a hoodlum and killer.

There are fleeting references to Errol Flynn, Irene Dunne, Ginger Rogers and Bill Powell but no attempt to portray them, which would have made it more interesting.



The Vista Theatre in Los Feliz is a backdrop for a visit by Eisenberg and Stewart to see Woman in Red (1935) – we get a brief clip from the film , with Gene Raymond serenading Barbara Stanwyck.

The two stars are also seen in the grand lobby of Loews theatre in Upper Manhattan. And there’s another film clip from Libelled Lady.



The Vista Theatre in the 1930s. The Great Waltz is being screened.



The home of the uncle ( shown above) was in fact the home of Dolores del Rio and Cedric Gibbons, in the Santa Monica Hills. It looks fabulous!

Cedric Gibbons, Dolores del Rio

Cedric Gibbons, Dolores del Rio


Other classic Hollywood references include Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) showing Bobby( Eisenberg) some of the stars’ homes in Beverley Hills. And Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

And of course Mr Allen has impeccable taste in music, in this film mainly the songs of Rodgers & Hart.

The film’s sets and costumes are wonderful and the cast uniformly  good – I’d like to have seen more of Blake Lively who looked more in period than Kristen Stewart.

Blake Lively

Blake Lively

But I fear Woody Allen is repeating himself. How many more stories can he tell about a disfunctional Jewish family.

Definitely a missed opportunity to tell a Classic Hollywood story.

I think I’d rather see the Fred MacMurray/Madeleine Carroll CAFE SOCIETY.



In Central Park. ( Bobby has returned to New York after his romance is in trouble.)




………OLIVE FILMS are releasing Paramount’s STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND (1955) on DVD and Blu-Ray on October 16, 2016.  Directed by Anthony Mann, the film reunites James Stewart,June Allyson and Harry Morgan ( from The Glenn Miller Story).  And  with the always welcome Frank Lovejoy  in support.

There are no extras. I hope there is a Region 2 release also.




…………CAGNEY, THE MUSICAL runs at the Westside Theatre, W.43rd Street,New York , with tickets on sale through January 2017.

Video clips can be seen at

Robert Creighton as James Cagney leads a cast of 6. The show chronicles Cagney’s life and many of the songs he was associated with, including “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “Give my regards to Broadway”.

It sounds worth a visit.Has anyone seen it?




Robert Creighton celebrates 100 performances.


……….. P.S. I ordered via Amazon Ray Milland’s PANIC IN YEAR ZERO. Today I received a 2009 film called “Orphan Esther”.  Wonder if there is someone out there waiting on this film. I have of course contacted the seller!

2 responses »

  1. Interesting review of the Allen film,
    on the clip I saw yesterday,Joel McCrea was also name-
    I presume your version of PANIC IN YEAR ZERO is the
    Kino-Lorber version. If so,please listen to the commentary as
    it details some of the sad and often quiet shocking details
    of what became of some of Ray’s co-stars.
    Working on a pretty low budget I thought Milland did a very good

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