Radio Days

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Radio Days
Radio Days theatrical poster
Directed by Woody Allen
Produced by Robert Greenhut
Written by Woody Allen
Narrated by Woody Allen
Music by Dick Hyman
Cinematography Carlo Di Palma
Edited by Susan E. Morse
Distributed by Orion Pictures
Release dates
  • January 30, 1987 (1987-01-30)
Running time
85 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $16 million USD
Box office $14.8 million

Radio Days is a 1987 comedy film written and directed by Woody Allen, who also narrates. The film looks back on an American family's life during the Golden Age of Radio using both music and memories to tell the story. It stars an ensemble cast.


Joe (Woody Allen), the narrator, explains how the radio influenced his childhood in the days before TV. The young Joe (Seth Green) lives in New York City in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The tale mixes Joe's experiences with his remembrances and anecdotes, inserting his memories of the urban legends of radio stars, and is told in constantly changing plot points and vignettes.

Even though Joe's Jewish-American family lives modestly in Rockaway Beach, each member at one point during the film finds in radio shows an escape from reality through the gossip of celebrities, sports legends of the day, game shows, and crooners, with the majority of the stories taking place in the glitz and glamour of Manhattan. For Joe, the action adventure shows on the radio inspire him as he daydreams about buying a secret decoder ring, an attractive substitute teacher, movie stars (who may or may not be as honest as they appear), and World War II.

Meanwhile, several other parallel stories are told, from an aspiring radio star named Sally White (Mia Farrow), Joe's Aunt Bea (Dianne Wiest) and her (mostly fruitless) search for love, and during the middle of the film on the radio the tragic story is told about a little girl named Polly Phelps, who falls into a well near Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. It becomes a big national story as the family listens to it. Sadly, Polly does not survive.



The film's soundtrack, which features songs from the 1930s and 40s, plays an integral and seamless part in the plot. It was released on cassette and compact disc in 1987.

Track listing

No. Title Artist(s) Length
1. "In the Mood"   Glenn Miller 3:33
2. "I Double Dare You"   Larry Clinton 2:49
3. "Opus No. 1"   Tommy Dorsey 2:58
4. "Frenesi"   Artie Shaw 3:01
5. "The Donkey Serenade"   Allan Jones 3:21
6. "Body and Soul"   Benny Goodman 3:26
7. "You and I"   Tommy Dorsey 2:44
8. "Remember Pearl Harbor"   Sammy Kaye 2:29
9. "That Old Feeling"   Guy Lombardo 2:45
10. "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover"   Glenn Miller 2:54
11. "Goodbye"   Benny Goodman 3:31
12. "I'm Gettin' Sentimental Over You"   Tommy Dorsey 3:38
13. "Lullaby of Broadway"   Richard Himber 2:29
14. "American Patrol"   Glenn Miller 3:33
15. "Take the "A" Train"   Duke Ellington 3:00
16. "One, Two, Three, Kick"   Xavier Cugat 3:23


The film was screened out of competition at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival.[1]

Home media

Radio Days was released on DVD by Fox Searchlight Pictures November 6, 2001. A limited edition Blu-ray of 3,000 units was later released by Twilight Time July 8, 2014.[2]


Critical response

Radio Days currently holds a "Fresh" 88% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 7.9/10.[3] In his four-star review, noted critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times described Radio Days as Allen’s answer to Federico Fellini’s Amarcord and referred to it as "so ambitious and so audacious that it almost defies description. It's a kaleidoscope of dozens of characters, settings and scenes - the most elaborate production Allen has ever made - and it's inexhaustible, spinning out one delight after another."[4] Vincent Canby of The New York Times referred to Allen as the "prodigal cinema resource" and spoke of the film saying, "Radio Days [...] is as free in form as it is generous of spirit."[5]

David Denby wrote for New York that: "[...] The real glue, however, is the lullingly beautiful popular music of the period — Cole Porter, Dubin and Warren, big-band jazz, crooners, torch singers, Carmen Miranda. The music, perfectly matched to images of old wood and brick buildings and old glamour spots, produces a mood of distanced, bittersweet nostalgia. Radio Days becomes a gently satiric commemorations of forgotten lives."[6]

In a poll held by Empire magazine of the 500 greatest films ever made, Radio Days was voted number 304.[7]


1987 Academy Awards (Oscars)

1987 BAFTA Film Awards

1988 Writers Guild of America Awards

  • Nominated – WGA Screen Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen: Woody Allen

Further reading

  • Woody Allen On Location by Thierry de Navacelle (Morrow, 1987); a day-to-day account of the making of Radio Days


  1. "Festival de Cannes: Radio Days". Retrieved 2009-07-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Radio Days (1989) (Blu-Ray)". Screen Archives Entertainment. Retrieved February 13, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Radio Days at Rotten Tomatoes
  4. "Radio Days". Chicago Sun-Times. January 30, 1987.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Canby, Vincent (January 30, 1987). "Woody Allen's Fond Remembrances Of 'Radio Days'". The New York Times. Retrieved August 25, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Denby, David (February 9, 1987). "Woody Allen's nostalgic Radio Days is exquisitely crafted, but the picture is suffused with mediocrity". New York Magazine. Retrieved September 3, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Empire Features".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 "The 60th Academy Awards (1988) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-07-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links