Radio Days (1987) - Rotten Tomatoes

Radio Days (1987)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Woody Allen's gentle and nostalgic tribute to the glory days of radio and coming-of-age during World War II plays like Fellini's Amarcord filtered through Neil Simon. The nominal star is Seth Green as Joe, a teenage Jewish boy, growing up with a house full of relatives in Brooklyn. Allen cuts between Joe's working class neighborhood of Rockaway Beach, Queens, and the glittery and glamorous world of radio in Manhattan. Joe's favorite radio hero is The Masked Avenger (Wallace Shawn), and he dreams of getting The Masked Avenger Secret Decoder Ring. Using all the money they have collected for Israel, Joe and his friends buy the ring, much to the shock of his mother (Julie Kavner) and the local rabbi. His father (Michael Tucker), a business failure embarrassed to be seen driving a taxi, is an ineffective and distant man. His uncle Abe (Josh Mostel) is obsessed with eating. His Aunt Bea (Dianne Wiest) is obsessed with getting married. All together, these relatives make up a rather chaotic life in Brooklyn for Joe. Interspersed with these family relations are vignettes of radio lore --from the cigarette girl (Mia Farrow) who wants to strike it big in radio, to the "Name That Tune" jackpot telephone call answered by a burglar, who guesses the right answer and wins the victimized homeowners a cornucopia of valuable prizes.more
Rating: PG
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Woody Allen
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 6, 2001

Watch it now


Leah Carrey
as Grandma
Wallace Shawn
as Masked Avenger
Diane Keaton
as Songstress
Joy Newman
as Ruthie
Kenneth Mars
as Rabbi Baumel
Gina DeAngelis
as Rocco's Mother
Tony Roberts
as `Silver Dollar' MC
Guy LeBow
as Bill Kern
Marc Colner
as Whiz Kid
Roger Hammer
as Richard
Mike Starr
as Burglar
Paul Herman
as Burglar
Don Pardo
as `Guess That Tune' Ho...
Martin Rosenblatt
as Mr. Needleman
Helen Miller
as Mrs. Needleman
Danielle Ferland
as Child Star
Michael Murray
as Avenger Crook
William Flanagan
as Avenger Announcer
Hy Anzell
as Mr. Waldbaum
Judith Malina
as Mrs. Waldbaum
Rebecca Nickels
as Evelyn Goorwitz
Mindy Morgenstern
as `Show and Tell' Teac...
Andrew B. Clark
as Sidney Manulis
Lee Erwin
as Roller Rink Organist
Terry Lee Swarts
as Nightclub Customer
Margaret Thomson
as Nightclub Customer
Tito Puente
as Latin Band Leader
Denise Dummont
as Latin Singer
Larry David
as Communist Neighbor
Rebecca Schaeffer
as Communist's Daughter
Belle Berger
as Mrs. Silberman
Brian Mannain
as Kirby Kyle
Stan Burns
as Ventriloquist
Stanley Burns
as Ventriloquist
Todd Field
as Crooner
Peter Lombard
as Abercrombie Host
Martin Sherman
as Mr. Abercrombie
Crystal Field
as Abercrombie Couple
Maurice Shrog
as Abercrombie Couple
Roberta Bennett
as Teacher with Carrot
Joel Eidelsberg
as Mr. Zipsky
Shelley Delaney
as Chekhov Actress
Dwight Weist
as Pearl Harbor Announc...
Ken Levinsky
as USO Musician
Ray Marchica
as USO Musician
J.R. Horne
as Biff Announcer
Henry Yuk
as Japanese
Sydney Blake
as Miss Gordon
Kitty Carlisle Hart
as Radio Singer
Henry Cowen
as Principal
Philip Shultz
as Whistler
Greg Gerard
as Songwriter
David Cale
as Director
Ira Wheeler
as Sponsor
Hannah Rabinowitz
as Sponsor's Wife
Edward S. Kotkin
as Diction Teacher
Ruby Payne
as Diction Student
Jackie Safra
as Diction Student
Paul Berman
as `Gay White Way' Anno...
Jaqui Safra
as Diction Student
Ivan Kronenfeld
as On-the-Spot Newsman
Yolanda Childress
as Polly's Mother
Artie Butler
as New Year's Bandleade...
Barbara Gallo
as Dance Palace Musicia...
Jane Jarvis
as Dance Palace Musicia...
Gregg Almquist
as Radio Voices
Liz Vochecowizc
as Dance Palace Musicia...
Jackson Beck
as Radio Voice
Wendell Craig
as Radio Voice
William H. Macy
as Radio Voice
Ken Roberts (II)
as Radio Voice
Norman Rose
as Radio Voice
Kenneth Welsh
as Radio Voices
Woody Allen
as Narrator, The Narrat...
Jaqui Safra
as Diction Student
Wendell Craig
as Radio Voice
Andrew Clark
as Sidney Manulis
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Radio Days

Critic Reviews for Radio Days

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (6)

Although lacking the bite and depth of his best work, Radio Days is one of Woody Allen's most purely entertaining pictures.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

It's a great idea for a movie, but Allen fatally opts for a Fellini: Amarcord approach of formless narrative, larger-than-life coincidence, and rambling ruminations on what times there used to be.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

You peel and peel away at it only to find, in the end, nothing.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Childhood anecdotes and charming vignettes are set against bright-light, big-city sets, a-dazzle with beautiful players.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

"Radio Days" is so ambitious and so audacious that it almost defies description.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

[A] ridiculously entertaining nostalgia exercise...Radio Days emerged from a highly fertile period for [Woody] Allen, and the film bubbles with creativity and Allen hallmarks. [Blu-ray]

Full Review… | July 21, 2014
Groucho Reviews

Audience Reviews for Radio Days

Remember the good ole days before the internet? Before even television? Radio was the dominant technology and Allen nostalgically recalls not only the simplicity of those times but how the emerging tech was already shaping the dreams, thoughts, and thus the lives of the listeners. The subject is really too big for the time alloted and so the overall feeling is scattered, but the idea is there, and very nearly resonant.

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

A collage of the ordinary, the golden fame of radio, and the innocence of childhood, Radio Days is one of the finest examples of Allen's fascination with nostalgia. Set in Brooklyn, which was Allen's childhood home in reality, the film features the antics of an extended Jewish family living under one roof, and the lives of the stars they listen to nightly on the radio. Much of this is free form memory, narrated by Allen himself (who never appears in the actual film). It stays true to its time period, flitting in between the glamorous world of New York City and then coming back to earth and settling in Rockaway during the 1940s. The family includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, and the nuclear family, still not intact by this time. Allen's life, however fictionalized for this film, is predominant, while also fictionalizing real people from that time period, including Mia Farrow as a marginalized Hedda Hopper, and a similarly fated baseball player for the Chicago White Sox. The stories flow in and out of every type of world, held together by the frank narration of Allen, who comes back to people to reflect on their strides toward fame, or bringing their family together. His mother wants to break from the rest of her household and have a baby, the son wants to only grow up and fight for something, anything. The father is a dearly loved figure who is shown as tender and kindhearted in one vignette, and in the next shows himself as a man of his time. There are some really character driven moments but in the same breath it's tinged with the uncertainty of memory and broad reflection. So much about this is feel good, and doesn't linger on the obvious heavy implications of mob ties, war, family drama, or failure at something you dearly want. The cast is brilliant, and includes some of Allen's favorites, including Mia Farrow, Dianne Weist, and a cameo from Diane Keaton as a New Year's Eve singer, the only time Keaton and Farrow appear onscreen together. Everything about this is beautiful, nostalgic, and certainly funny. The only ill thing I can say is that I wish it was longer so I could keep watching the imperfect family and the country change around them.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer


A terrific nostalgic tribute. One of the best works by Allen.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

Radio Days Quotes

Rocco: This is a coincidence. I meet nobody from the old neighbourhood in years. I finally do, and I gotta kill her.
– Submitted by Tony G (2 years ago)
Masked Avenger: I wonder if future generations will ever even hear about us. It's not likely. After enough time, everything passes. I don't care how big we are or how important are our lives.
– Submitted by Adam O (3 years ago)
Roger: I hope 1944 turns out well. They pass so quickly. Where do they all go?
Biff Baxter: So quickly. Then we get old. And we never knew what any of it was about.
– Submitted by Adam O (3 years ago)
Narrator: My most vivid memory connected with an old radio song I associate with the time that Aunt Bea and her then-boyfriend Chester took me into New York to the movies. It was the first time I'd ever seen the Radio City Music Hall and it was like entering heaven. I just never saw anything so beautiful in my life.
– Submitted by Adam O (3 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Radio Days on our Movie forum!