Bullets Over Broadway (1994) - Rotten Tomatoes

Bullets Over Broadway1994

Bullets Over Broadway (1994)



Critic Consensus: A gleefully entertaining backstage comedy, Bullets Over Broadway features some of Woody Allen's sharpest, most inspired late-period writing and direction.

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Movie Info

Bullets Over Broadway is a Woody Allen romp that, as the title suggests, combines gangsters with show business at the height of the Roaring Twenties. David Shayne (John Cusack) is a straight-arrow playwright who plans to stand firm against compromising his work, but quickly abandons that stance when his producer (Jack Warden) finds a backer to mount his show on Broadway. There's just one catch, however: the backer is a mobster (Joe Viterelli) who sees Shayne's play as a vehicle for his dizzy, talent-free girlfriend, Olive (Jennifer Tilly). Shayne also has to deal with the demands of veteran theatre diva Helen Sinclair (Dianne Wiest) and is shocked to discover that Olive's hitman bodyguard, Cheech (Chazz Palminteri), is probably a better playwright than he is, as he secretly revises Shayne's work when he sits in on rehearsals. ~ Don Kaye, Rovi


John Cusack
as David Shayne
Dianne Wiest
as Helen Sinclair
Jennifer Tilly
as Olive Neal
Joe Viterelli
as Nick Valenti
Tracey Ullman
as Eden Brent
Jim Broadbent
as Warner Purcell
Jack Warden
as Julian Marx
Rob Reiner
as Sheldon Flender
Harvey Fierstein
as Sid Loomis
Victor Colicchio
as Waterfront Hood
Lou Eppolito
as Waterfront Hood
Carl Reiner
as Sheldon Flender
Peter Castellotti
as Waterfront Hood
Tony Conforti
as Waterfront Hood
John Di Benedetto
as Waterfront Hood
Gene Canfield
as Waterfront Hood
John Ventimiglia
as Waterfront Hood
Paul Herman
as Maitre d'
Fran McGee
as Movie Theatre Victim
Brian McConnachie
as Mitch Sabine
John Doumanian
as Backstage Well-Wisher
Dayle Haddon
as Backstage Well-Wisher
Howard Erskine
as Theatre Well-Wisher
Benay Venuta
as Theatre Well-Wisher
Ken Roberts (II)
as Theatre Well-Wisher
Peter McRobbie
as Man at Theatre
View All

News & Interviews for Bullets Over Broadway

Critic Reviews for Bullets Over Broadway

All Critics (59) | Top Critics (20)

The joy of this bouncy, brainy Allen outing is how effortlessly he meshes his serious, clearly personal conundrums with the giddy formulas of backstage farce.

February 20, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The performances, however, are very enjoyable, with first honors going to Chazz Palminteri and Dianne Wiest.

August 12, 2008 | Full Review…

A backstage comedy bolstered by healthy shots of prohibition gangster melodrama and romantic entanglements.

July 31, 2008

No! Don't speak! See it!

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The best movies Woody Allen made in the '90s by a fairly large margin.

September 10, 2005 | Rating: 5/5

Mr. Allen has drawn on autobiographical specifics in other films, but this may be the one in which he speaks most seriously from the heart.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4.5/5

Audience Reviews for Bullets Over Broadway

One of the top 5 of Allen's extensive repertoire, a gem that's sparkle leaves one feeling smarter and more erudite, rides the old show within a show conceit. And while loaded with excellent performances, Cusack, as Allen's surrogate, really shines simply for not aping Allen's shade as so many have done. Repeat viewings are definitely in order.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

"Let's say there was a burning building and you could rush in and you could save only one thing: either the last known copy of Shakespeare's plays or some anonymous human being. What would you do?" In 1920s New York, a struggling playwright is forced to cast a mobster's talentless girlfriend in his latest drama in order to get it produced.

Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway" deals with a struggling stage writer (John Cusack) who is so desperate to get one of his plays on Broadway in the 1920s that he reluctantly enlists the help of the local mafia crime lord to fund the play. Of course there is a large stipulation. The crime lord's girl must be in the play (hilariously played by Jennifer Tilly in an Oscar-nominated role). Needless to say she's terrible and Cusack struggles with her in the play. However, he has booked A-list actress Dianne Wiest (in her second Oscar-winning role) who is an alcoholic who has seen better days in her career. Tilly's bodyguard (Chazz Palminteri, also in an Oscar-nominated role) sees the play rehearsed firsthand and gives Cusack some directions on the project that Cusack cannot refuse. Palminteri is street smart and knows how people really talk, while Cusack is so educated that his words make no sense to the normal audience. This film is what "The Godfather" would have been like if Allen had directed it. The screenplay is outstanding and Allen's direction has rarely been better. Cusack is fun and hilarious, but it is the supporting cast that makes the movie work. Other than the aforementioned Oscar-nominated actors, there are great turns by several others. Mary-Louise Parker, Tracy Ullman, Jim Broadbent, Jack Warden, Rob Reiner, Harvey Feinstein, and Joe Viterelli are all superb in well-calculated supporting roles.

Lorenzo von Matterhorn
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

Woody's first indie venture outside of studio affiliations just so happens to be his best film of the 90s.

Jonathan Hutchings
Jonathan Hutchings

Super Reviewer

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