Radio Days

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Radio Days
Radio Days theatrical poster
Directed byWoody Allen
Produced byRobert Greenhut
Written byWoody Allen
StarringSee cast
Narrated byWoody Allen
Music byDick Hyman
CinematographyCarlo Di Palma
Edited bySusan E. Morse
Distributed byOrion Pictures
Release date
  • January 30, 1987 (1987-01-30)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$16 million USD
Box office$14.8 million

Radio Days is a 1987 American comedy-drama 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, the narrator, relates how two burglars got involved in a radio game after picking up the phone during a home burglary. He goes on to explain that he associates old radio songs with childhood memories.

During the late 1930s and early 1940s young Joe lived in a modest Jewish-American family in Rockaway Beach. His mother always listened to Breakfast with Irene and Roger. His father kept his occupation secret. Joe later found out that he was ashamed of being a taxi driver. Other family members were Uncle Abe and Aunt Ceil, grandpa and grandma, and Aunt Bea. The latter was a serial dater, always on the lookout for a potential husband.

Joe's own favourite radio show was The Masked Avenger. It made him dream of buying a secret decoder ring. In Joe's fantasy the Masked Avenger looked like a hero, but in reality the voice actor was short and bald. Other radio memories are stories about sporting heroes, news bulletins about World War II, a report of an extraterrestrial invasion, and a live report of the search for a little girl who fell into a well.

With his friends from school Joe was searching for German aircraft, but instead they saw a woman undressing in her bedroom. She later turned out to be their substitute teacher. Alone on the coast Joe saw a German U-boat, but he decided not to tell anyone because they wouldn't believe him.

Joe was fascinated by the glitz and glamour of Manhattan, where the radio broadcasts were made. He visited the Radio City Music Hall, and described it as the most beautiful thing he ever saw.

Joe collected stories of radio stars, including that of Sally White, whose dreams of becoming famous were hampered by her bad voice and accent. Starting as a cigar salesgirl she got stuck on the roof of the radio building with Roger, who was cheating on Irene. After she witnessed a crime the gangster Rocco wanted to kill her, but following his mother's advice he ended up using his connections to further her career. She finally became a reporter of celebrity gossip.

On New Year's Eve Joe was brought down from his room to celebrate the transition to 1944. Simultaneously the radio stars gathered on the roof of their building. The narrator concludes that he will never forget those radio voices, although with each passing of a New Year's Eve they seem to glow dimmer and dimmer.



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

Track listing[edit]

1."In the Mood"Glenn Miller3:33
2."I Double Dare You"Larry Clinton2:49
3."Opus No. 1"Tommy Dorsey2:58
4."Frenesi"Artie Shaw3:01
5."The Donkey Serenade"Allan Jones3:21
6."Body and Soul"Benny Goodman3:26
7."You and I"Tommy Dorsey2:44
8."Remember Pearl Harbor"Sammy Kaye2:29
9."That Old Feeling"Guy Lombardo2:45
10."(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover"Glenn Miller2:54
11."Goodbye"Benny Goodman3:31
12."I'm Getting Sentimental Over You"Tommy Dorsey3:38
13."Lullaby of Broadway"Richard Himber2:29
14."American Patrol"Glenn Miller3:33
15."Take the "A" Train"Duke Ellington3:00
16."One, Two, Three, Kick"Xavier Cugat3:23


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

Home media[edit]

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


Critical response[edit]

Radio Days currently holds a "Fresh" 90% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 7.9/10 from 29 reviews.[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]

According to his brother-in-law Jan Harlan, Stanley Kubrick loved Radio Days so much that he watched it "twice within two days, because 'it was like watching a home movie,' he told me... He absolutely adored it."[8]

Awards and Nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nomination Result Ref.
1987 Academy Awards Best Original Screenplay Woody Allen Nominated [9]
Best Art Direction Art Direction: Santo Loquasto
Set Decoration: Carol Joffe, Leslie Bloom, George DeTitta Jr.
Nominated [9]
1987 British Academy Film Awards Best Film Robert Greenhut, Woody Allen Nominated [10]
Best Supporting Actress Dianne Wiest Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Woody Allen Nominated
Best Production Design Santo Loquasto Won
Best Costume Design Jeffery Kurland Won
Best Editing Susan E. Morse Nominated
Best Sound Robert Hein, James Sabat, Lee Dichter Nominated
1987 Writers Guild of America Awards Best Original Screenplay Woody Allen Nominated


  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Radio Days". Retrieved 2009-07-25.
  2. ^ "Radio Days (1989) (Blu-Ray)". Screen Archives Entertainment. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  3. ^ Radio Days at Rotten Tomatoes
  4. ^ "Radio Days". Chicago Sun-Times. January 30, 1987.
  5. ^ Canby, Vincent (January 30, 1987). "Woody Allen's Fond Remembrances Of 'Radio Days'". The New York Times. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  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.
  7. ^ "Empire Features".
  8. ^ "The Life and Legend of Stanley Kubrick: A Panel". YouTube. Blueprint Cinema. July 16, 2016.
  9. ^ a b "The 60th Academy Awards (1988) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-07-31.
  10. ^ "Radio Days - Awards". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved May 20, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]