Bullets over Broadway is a 1994 American black comedy-crime film directed by Woody Allen, written by Allen and Douglas McGrath and starring an ensemble cast including John Cusack, Dianne Wiest, Chazz Palminteri and Jennifer Tilly.
The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Allen and co-writer Douglas McGrath for Original Screenplay, Allen for Director and Tilly and Palminteri for Supporting Actress and Actor, respectively. Wiest won Best Supporting Actress for her performance, the second time Allen directed her to an Academy Award.
In 1928, David Shayne (John Cusack) is an idealistic young playwright newly arrived on Broadway. In order to gain financing for his play, God of Our Fathers, he agrees to hire actress Olive Neal (Jennifer Tilly), the girlfriend of a gangster. She is demanding and talentless, but her gangster escort Cheech (Chazz Palminteri) turns out to be a genius, who constantly comes up with excellent ideas for revising the play.
As the players prepare for opening night, Shayne is soon in over his head claiming Cheech's rewrites as his own, cheating on his partner Ellen (Mary-Louise Parker) with the show's seductive, alcoholic leading lady Helen Sinclair (Dianne Wiest), and facing his leading man, a compulsive eater (Jim Broadbent), beginning an affair with Olive.John Cusack as David Shayne
Dianne Wiest as Helen Sinclair
Jennifer Tilly as Olive Neal
Chazz Palminteri as Cheech
Mary-Louise Parker as Ellen
Jack Warden as Julian Marx
Joe Viterelli as Nick Valenti
Rob Reiner as Sheldon Flender
Tracey Ullman as Eden Brent
Jim Broadbent as Warner Purcell
Harvey Fierstein as Sid Loomis
Stacey Nelkin as Rita
Edie Falco as Lorna
Benay Venuta as Adoring Theatre Patron
Debi Mazar as Violet
Małgorzata Zajączkowska as Lili
Tony Sirico as Rocco
Tony Darrow as Aldo
The film's locales include the duplex co-op on the 22nd floor of 5 Tudor City Place in Manhattan.
The film's title may have been an homage to a lengthy sketch of the same title from the 1950s television show Caesar's Hour; one of Allen's first jobs in television was writing for Sid Caesar specials after the initial run of the show. The film featured the last screen appearance of Benay Venuta. Allen cast her in a cameo role as a well-wishing wealthy theatre patron. She died of lung cancer months after the film opened.
Bullets over Broadway received a positive response from critics. The review-aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reports 96% positive reviews, with the consensus "A gleefully entertaining backstage comedy, Bullets Over Broadway features some of Woody Allen's sharpest, most inspired late-period writing and direction."
Janet Maslin of The New York Times described the film as "a bright, energetic, sometimes side-splitting comedy with vital matters on its mind, precisely the kind of sharp-edged farce [Allen] has always done best." Todd McCarthy of Variety similarly called it "a backstage comedy bolstered by healthy shots of prohibition gangster melodrama and romantic entanglements" and wrote, "In its mixing of showbiz and gangsters, this is a nice companion piece to Allen's Broadway Danny Rose, and about as amusing." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times praised, "Bullets Over Broadway shares a kinship with a more serious film by Allen, Crimes and Misdemeanors, in which a man committed murder and was able, somehow, to almost justify it. Now here is the comic side of the same coin. The movie is very funny and, in the way it follows its logic wherever it leads, surprisingly tough."
Allen adapted the film as a stage musical, titled Bullets Over Broadway the Musical. The musical is directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, produced by Julian Schlossberg and Allen's younger sister Letty Aronson, with a score from the American songbook using songs from the 1920s and 1930s. The new musical premiered on Broadway at the St. James Theatre on April 10, 2014. A staged reading was held in June 2013. The cast features Zach Braff as David Shayne, Brooks Ashmanskas, Betsy Wolfe, Lenny Wolpe, and Vincent Pastore. Marin Mazzie stars as Helen Sinclair, and Karen Ziemba appears as "Eden Brent." Musical supervisor Glen Kelly has adapted and written additional lyrics for songs including "Tain't Nobody's Bus'ness," "Running Wild," "Let's Misbehave" and "I Found A New Baby". The musical closed on August 24, 2014, after 156 performances and 33 previews.Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress – Dianne Wiest
American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture – Dianne Wiest
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress – Dianne Wiest
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress – Dianne Wiest
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture – Dianne Wiest
Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female – Dianne Wiest
Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male – Chazz Palminteri
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress – Dianne Wiest
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress – Dianne Wiest
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress – Dianne Wiest
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress – Dianne Wiest
Sant Jordi Award for Best Foreign Actor – Chazz Palminteri
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role – Dianne Wiest
Society of Texas Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress – Dianne Wiest
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress – Dianne Wiest
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor – Chazz Palminteri
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress – Jennifer Tilly
Academy Award for Best Director – Woody Allen
Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay – Woody Allen and Douglas McGrath
Academy Award for Best Production Design – Santo Loquasto and Susan Bode
Academy Award for Best Costume Design – Jeffrey Kurland
BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay – Woody Allen and Douglas McGrath
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress – Dianne Wiest
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor – Chazz Palminteri
Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement – Woody Allen and Douglas McGrath
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role – Chazz Palminteri