Follow TV Tropes

Following

Film / Bananas

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/bananas_5845.jpg
The theatrical poster, illustrated by Jack Davis of MAD magazine fame.

"Although the United States is, uh, a very rich country and San Marcos is a very poor one, there are a great many things we have to offer your country in return for aid. For instance, there, uh, there are locusts. Uh, we have more locusts than... uh, locusts of all races and creeds. These, these locusts, incidentally, are available at popular prices. And so, by the way, are most of the women of San Marcos... despite the tiny size of our nation, few people realize that we lead the world in hernias. They also fail to realize that before Columbus discovered your country, he stopped in San Marcos and contracted a disease which today can be cured with one shot of penicillin..."
Fielding Mellish, Bananas
Advertisement:

A 1971 comedy movie by and with Woody Allen as Fielding Mellish. He's a lonely product tester in the big city, who tries and fails to maintain a relationship with Nancy, a politically motivated woman whose pet project for the year is raising money for the rebellion in San Marcos, a Central American country ruled by dictator Vargas and driven by rebellion. Despondent over the break-up, Fielding travels to San Marcos to see things for himself, and gets sucked into the fight against Vargas. Hilarity Ensues.

One of Woody's earliest films, Bananas is also listed as one of his funniest, using absurdist humor and slapstick mixed with political commentary. The film was voted the 69th greatest American comedy by the American Film Institute in 2000.


Advertisement:

Examples:

  • Acquired Poison Immunity: Gen. Vargas has a servant on hand to taste his meals in case they are poisoned. One meal does turn out to be poisoned, but the General eats it, anyway, claiming that he's been poisoned so many times to have developed immunity.
  • Acronym Confusion: The dictator of San Marcos makes the mistake of appealing for help from the UJA instead of the CIA. He's told by his aide that the UJA is the United Jewish Appeal. Cut to Ashkenazi Jews roaming the wartorn streets of San Marcos collecting donations from soldiers.
  • Adam Westing: Howard Cosell and other major sports broadcasters appear as themselves, commenting on news events as though they are sports.
  • Air Guitar: This movie has a scene with an air chamber band. Woody eventually asks them to keep it quieter. (Originally, there were supposed to be instruments, but they never arrived and Woody decided to roll with it.)
  • Advertisement:
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi: When the United Jewish Appeal shows up, they're all dressed in Orthodox Ashkenazi apparel. One might expect some Sephardic Jews to show up in the Latin American nation of San Marcos.
  • all lowercase letters: the opening and closing credits.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Especially Fielding. As is one Sexy Secretary.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Fielding Mellish spends most of the film chasing women. However, he does seem rather interested in finding out if one of the jurors at his trial is gay and in a bait and switch gag is later revealed to be making obscene phone calls to someone's husband.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Fielding is accused of fraud, inciting to riot, conspiracy to overthrow the government, and using the word "thighs" in mixed company.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...:
    Fielding: Do I look like the kind of guy who'd have trouble in bed?
    (Co-worker grins.)
    Fielding: I didn't! I didn't!
  • Award-Bait Song: "'Cause I Believe in Loving". Doubled down when Cliff Richard covers it.
  • Baby Carriage: As a quick throwaway gag during the battle scene where the Rebels take over San Marcos.
  • Banana Republic: San Marcos. (A Fictional Counterpart of Cuba and shot in Puerto Rico.)
  • Beat: In the opening scene, Don Dunphy introduces a news report and throws it over to Howard Cosell, but the show doesn't cut away for a long moment, during which time Dunphy just stares awkwardly at the camera. In the final scene, Dunphy again attempts to throw it over to Cosell, and it takes twice as long as last time, forcing Dunphy to stand there blinking and nervously licking his lips.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • At the beginning, El Presidente is shot several times, point blank, with a big gun, and there's not a drop of blood.
    • The same with the executions in the middle of the film. Woody Allen stated that it was a comedy, and blood would have ruined the Charlie Chaplin mood he was going for.
  • Bookends: Wide World of Sports shows up to cover both a political assassination (at the opening) and a honeymoon (at the end) as sporting events.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The woman with crutches eagerly reads Fielding's copy of Orgasm that he nervously bought in the previous scene.
    • Vargas' officers complain Vargas is not going with the usual tailor. Later:
      Soldier disguised as a rebel: I do not feel good in these clothes!
      Soldier #2: It's not our usual tailor.
      Soldier #3: He made cuffs in these pants!
  • Butt-Monkey: Fielding.
  • The Caligula: Rebel leader Esposito, the second he gains control of San Marcos. No wonder his underlings get rid of him.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: See the above page quote. Even Fielding realizes he's dying on stage, after starting to tell a dirty Farmer's Daughter Parental Incest joke.
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: Fielding moans that the United States thinks San Marcos is communist, while Russia thinks San Marcos is a US puppet.
  • Clark Kenting: Sent to the US to plead for aid, Mellish knows he needs a disguise to hide the fact he's really an American in charge of a foreign nation. Cue one ridiculous-looking beard with the straps keeping it in place visible to everyone.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    Nancy: You're immature, Fielding.
    Fielding: (whiny) How am I immature?
    Nancy: Emotionally, sexually and intellectually.
    Fielding: Yeah, but what other ways?
  • Completely Unnecessary Translator: The dictator of San Marcos has a (heavily accented) translator when he meets with the President of the U. S. — even though the dictator is the American Fielding Mellish.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Being forced to listen to Naughty Marietta.
    Prisoner: Please! I cannot stand operetta!
  • Courtroom Antic:
    • Parodied to the hilt. Among his other antics includes Woody Allen's character conducting his own defense, with results in cross-examining himself as a hostile witness... by jumping in and out of the witness box.
    • The judge has enough at one point and orders Mellish bound and gagged. Cut to the following witness as Mellish, still bound and gagged, mumbling at her until she tearfully recants her testimony.
    • Mellish is found guilty, but the judge throws out the ruling once Mellish agrees never to move into the judge's neighborhood.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Fielding tells his psychiatrist this dream he has of being crucified and carried down a New York street. And then running into another New Yorker on a crucifix as the monks carrying them fight over a parking spot. (Link)
  • Dirty Communist: What the Feds think of El Presidente Mellish.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Bananas as in Banana Republic and San Marcos' main export, and bananas as in crazy.
  • Drugs Are Good: The jury starts passing a joint (or drinking from a fish bowl) as the trial drags on, while Miss America sings an opera song.
  • Drunk with Power: After overthrowing the government of San Marcos and rebel leader Esposito declaring himself the new president.
  • Erotic Eating: Parodied when Fielding and a rebel girl eat together - he playfully tosses a piece of food to her, then gets a plateful of food in his face.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Discussed when Fielding is in bed with his new girlfriend.
    Fielding: I love you, I love you.
    Nancy: Oh, say it in French! Please, say it in French!
    Fiedling: I don't know French.
    Nancy: Oh please... please!
    Fielding: What about Hebrew?
    Nancy: ...oh.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Fielding makes a date with Nancy. As he drives home he rehearses later conversation, finishing with "I think the greatest crimes are those against human dignity," and steps out into an open manhole.
  • False Flag Operation: The dictator of San Marcos attempts to assassinate a bumbling American tourist (guess whom) and frame a revolutionary group, in order to obtain American aid against the insurgents. It backfires, ultimately leading to the tourist becoming the leader of San Marcos.
  • Feigning Intelligence: Fielding does this to impress Nancy.
    Nancy: Have you ever read the I Ching?
    Fielding: Not the actual Ching itself, but I've dabbled in Kierkegaard.
    Nancy: Oh, well, of course he's Danish.
    Fielding: Yes. He'd be the first to admit that.
    Nancy: Yeah... Yeah.
    Fielding: You know, I was just saying to...
    Nancy: Have you ever been to Denmark?
    Fielding: I've been to... Yes, to the Vatican.
    Nancy: The Vatican? The Vatican's in Rome.
    Fielding: Well, they were doing so well in Rome that they opened one in Denmark.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Using the word "thighs" in mixed company.
  • A Fool for a Client: Fielding Mellish. Subverted in that the trial is clearly stacked against him.
  • Foreign Language Theme: The film has an original Theme Tune sung in Spanish, "Quiero La Noche."
  • Full-Circle Revolution: Parodied-upon taking power, the leader of the revolution immediately starts making a series of ridiculous decrees, see above. His underlings get rid of him and make Fielding dictator.
  • The Generalissimo: General Emilio M. Vargas, who, at the beginning of the movie, has the previous president assassinated, then takes over. He is himself later overthrown by Esposito.
  • Gilligan Cut: Before accompanying Nancy to a protest, Fielding assures his friends that he knows what he's doing. Cut to him in the midst of a riot completely out of his depth.
  • Harassing Phone Call: Apparently, Fielding makes obscene phone calls as a hobby.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: Averted. There is one on the jury. Fielding wonders if it's that big guy on the end.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Fielding Mellish recalls his parents to his psychiatrist:
    "I think they hit me once, actually, in my whole childhood. They, they, uh, started beating me on the 23rd of December in 1942, and stopped beating me in the late Spring of '44."
  • Holding Both Sides of the Conversation: When Fielding Mellish is on trial, he acts as his own counsel, and interrogates himself, rushing in and out of the witness stand.
    Fielding: [angrily] I wouldn't joke if I were you! [runs into the witness stand]
    Fielding: [casually] Wouldn't you, or couldn't you?
  • I Have to Wash My Hair: Fielding Mellish tries to ask out a Sexy Secretary.
    Fielding: You busy tonight?
    Norma: Some old friends are coming over. We're gonna show some pornographic movies.
    Fielding: You need an usher?
    Norma: Aw, that's sweet. I'm busy.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: After Nancy breaks up with him, Fielding states confidently, "Well, don't you worry about me, honey. I'm like a cat. I'll always wind up on my feet." After a beat, he collapses into messy self-pitying snivelling.
  • Instant Sedation: Fielding has to use a hypodermic to knock out a government official, but in the scuffle he also knocks out his assistants — as a passing policeman takes notice, he props them up against a car and desperately tries to look casual.
  • Jungle Princess: The sexy rebel.
  • Kangaroo Court: This exchange proves Fielding's suspicions.
    Witness: I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I've known Fielding Mellish for years and he's a warm, wonderful human being.
    Mellish: Uh, would the clerk read that statement back please?
    Clerk: "I've known Fielding Mellish for years and he's a rotten, conniving, dishonest little rat."
    Mellish: Thank you. I just wanted to make sure you got that right.
  • Karma Houdini: The only karma Vargas gets is that the Fontainebleau in Miami is pricy.
  • Kent Brockman News: Bookending the film are two news reports covering events like its Wide World of Sports. It begins in San Marcos, where the impending assassination of the president is about to begin, Howard Cosell himself providing on-the-scene coverage and interviews. In the end, Cosell covers the consummation of Fielding's marriage.
    Cosell: It's all over for El Presidente!
  • Kicked Upstairs: Fielding really doesn't want to be El Presidente.
    Fielding: Let me be Vice President! That's a real idiot's job!
  • Left the Background Music On: Fielding is invited to dinner with the president of San Marcos, and as he dazedly lies on his bed harp music starts. Then it turns out there's a harp player in his closet. Why? He couldn't find any other good place to practice.
  • Loony Laws:
    Esposito: From this day on, the official language of San Marcos [in Latin America] will be Swedish. Silence! In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside, so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now... 16 years old!
    Fielding Mellish: What's the Spanish word for straitjacket?
  • Major Injury Underreaction: A variation. The patient who is being operated on by Fielding's patients doesn't seem to be affected in the least that he's being operated on. He asks them if they can wrap it up in time for his theater plans.
  • Male Gaze: Done to comic effect with a leather clad secretary who brags she and her friends are going to have a porno party.
  • Meaningful Name: "Mellish" is as close to being "nebbish" as possible without being obvious.
  • Meaningless Meaningful Words: What Fielding uses when he tries to seem intellectual.
    Fielding: Yoga - it's one of my great passions.
    Nancy: I love Eastern philosophies.
    Fielding: It's... metaphysical and redundant.
    Nancy: Yes.
    Fielding: Abortively pedantic.
  • Meet Cute: Fielding meets Nancy when she shows up at his apartment asking him to sign a petition.
  • Mighty Whitey: Played with. Of course, since he's Woody Allen, he isn't exactly competent, but when the revolution succeeds and the Great Leader immediately goes crazy, his underlings get rid of him and force Woody Allen to become the new dictator because Woody Allen is an "educated American." (He finished high school.)
  • Nervous Wreck:
    Official: You're not tense, are you?
    Fielding: Tense? Why would I be tense? (proceeds to eat a wine glass)
  • Newscaster Cameo: Roger Grimsby (of WABC-7 in NYC) and Howard Cosell (of Monday Night Football) making news broadcasts of a particularly idiotic nature.
  • New York City Subway: Being the New York story that it is in the first act, the aforementioned Stallone cameo occurs on the 42nd Street Shuttle.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The film's title is a pun on the terms "going bananas," meaning "going crazy," and "banana republic," which San Marcos is. However, the film intentionally has no actual bananas in it.
  • Odessa Steps: When Fielding ends up in the war in San Marcos, during one of the shoot-outs there's a baby carriage rolling down the stairs.
  • Overly Long Gag. Fielding and Nancy's breakup.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Fielding's ridiculous red beard.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Thanks to the Mind Screwishness of Fielding cross-examining himself as a hostile witness ("Does the codename Sapphire mean anything to you?!"), the jury passes a joint around.
  • The Perry Mason Method:
    • Subverted when Fielding, gagged and tied to a chair, nevertheless manages to get a key witness against him at his trial to tearfully confess that she lied.
    • Parodied when a man bursts into the courtroom tearfully admitting he was guilty - then realizes he's in the wrong trial and sheepishly leaves, apologizing.
  • Poorly Timed Confession: Played for laughs, where a felon rushes into a courtroom to confess his crime, but when he realizes this was the wrong trial, makes a break for it.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Fielding makes them at Nancy when she approaches him as a San Marcos fangirl.
  • Regime Change: The Real Life regime changes the USA did in Central America are parodied when the American soldiers already on their way in the airplane had to ask if they were being sent in for or against the current government.
  • Reign of Terror: The rebels overthrow the evil Central American dictatorship. Then the new leader goes batshit insane and starts his Reign Of Terror. So the rebels get Fielding to be leader instead. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Seven Minute Lull: A variation. The convenience store owner decides to yell to his co-worker about the price of Orgasm in front of Fielding and a dignified old woman, forcing Fielding to make up a ridiculous story of why he's buying a porn magazine.
  • Sexy Secretary: Who comes to work in thigh high leather boots, a short skirt and visible garters, and loves to Show Some Leg.
  • Share the Male Pain: Fielding Mellish cringes at the mention of the word "Castration". Nancy tries to sympathize by saying she gets the same reaction to the word "appendicitis," but he insists that it's not comparable.
  • Shout-Out:
    • During one of the rebellion shoot-outsm there's a Battleship Potemkin reference, doing the classic baby carriage rolling down the Odessa Steps.
    • A character witness describes Fielding as "a warm, wonderful human being." This is a riff on The Manchurian Candidate, where a character witness describes the main character as "the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being."
  • The Shrink: Fielding goes to a psychoanalyst in the first act.
  • Silence, You Fool!:
    Esposito: "From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. Silence! In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now... 16 years old!"
  • Slasher Smile: Fielding gets off a good one after seeing the "snake bite lady".
  • So Long, Suckers!: Fielding gets knocked out a moment after triumphantly shouting this phrase.
  • Speed Sex: The film ends with Mellish and Nancy consummating their marriage (covered by World Wide of Sports). It lasts for about 30 seconds. In the post-coital interviews, Nancy admits that it all happened very fast, and she expected it to last longer.
  • Suck Out the Poison: A group of rebels is going over jungle survival, each repeating "Suck out the poison", until Fielding says "I... I could never suck the leg of someone I wasn't engaged to.". Minutes later the sexy rebel girl runs past, shirtless, clutching her breast, shouting "I've been bitten by a snake!" Fielding and all the other men rush after her.
  • Throw the Pin: Fielding is training with the rebels, and he tries throwing a grenade. Predictably, he throws the pin, having just enough time to make an exasperated face before the grenade explodes in his hand. Later, he tries again, and successfully throws the grenade. The pin explodes in his hand.
  • Title Drop: Only happens when Fielding is made El Presidente and it's brought up that San Marcos' sole real export is bananas.
  • Training Montage: Fielding gets a long training montage when he's recruited into the rebels.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Fielding joins a group of freedom fighters in a Latin American country, San Marcos. They eventually depose the military dictator, but the new president, Esposito, quickly reveals himself to be equally tyrannical. Esposito is then deposed and replaced by Fielding.
  • Waking Non Sequitur: As Fielding is roused after being knocked out, he's moaning "...no more Polish women!"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Fielding beds a sexy rebel woman, and she's never seen again.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Thusly
    Esposito: From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. Silence! In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now... 16 years old!
    Fielding: What's the Spanish word for straitjacket?


Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report