The first audience question at Tuesday night’s Woody Allen panel was about the filmmaker’s 1981 Broadway play, The Floating Light Bulb. Woody’s response, which didn’t seem that important and which I didn’t write down, was roughly: “Every few years I try to be a playwright, and every time I discover again that I’m terrible at it.” (If you’ve seen a Woody Allen play, it was mostly likely the film version, starring but not directed by him, of Play It Again, Sam).
Woody’s poor estimation of his own dramaturgical talent suddenly seems relevant with the news that his 1994 film Bullets Over Broadway is going to become a Broadway musical … and Woody is writing the book. (The composer and lyricist haven’t been announced yet.)
The film is about the theater: it stars John Cusack as a Jazz Age playwright forced to cast the moll (Jennifer Tilly) of a mobster (Chazz Palminteri) in his play. Dianne Wiest won an Oscar. It comes between Manhattan Murder Mystery and Mighty Aphrodite and near to his one true musical, Everyone Says I Love You, in Woody’s ouevre: the light-hearted but quality post-Mia comedies of middle age. Excepting Everyone and maybe something like Bananas, I can’t think of a Woody movie better suited to the musical treatment.