Before the era of moving pictures, and subsequently the television, the wireless (or radio) formed the centrepiece of most family homes. Whilst it remains a popular medium today, it no longer has the same kind of draw it once did. In Radio Days, Woody Allen amasses an ensemble cast to pay tribute to the old-time radio era. This period lasted from the early 1920s until when the television gained prominence after World War II.
Joe (Allen) narrates the story which explains the important role radio played in his childhood. Growing up in Queens in the late ‘30s/early ‘40s, the young Joe (Seth Green) is inspired by adventure shows. The rest of his family, in one way or another, find an escape from reality by listening to the radio. Meanwhile, Sally White (Mia Farrow) dreams of radio stardom, whilst Aunt Bea (Dianne Wiest) continues her desperate quest to find love.
Whilst Radio Days is not an autobiographical account of Allen’s childhood, there are many aspects and sequences clearly inspired by it. Not least the music, which he hand-picked through his extensive knowledge of the period. It’s an amusing and rather touching film, which feels more personal than his others. Radio Days is an entertaining slice of nostalgia, harking back to a time when families came together around the wireless.
Radio Days is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Academy on Monday.