Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Bananas (1971)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Bananas (1971)

In actor/director Woody Allen's early anarchic slapstick comedy, with frequent lampooning political commentary, visual set-ups and sight-gags, and witty one-liner jokes:

  • in the opening scene (bookended with the closing scene), play-by-play commentary was provided by sportscaster announcer Howard Cosell (Himself), as he observed a Latin-American president's "live, on-the-spot assassination", in the Republic of San Marcos, on the outdoor palace steps for ABC's Wide World of Sports; he asked the dying leader: "Well, of course, you're upset, and that's understandable under the circumstances. l guess now you'll have to announce your retirement"
  • the main protagonist was clumsy, anxiety-ridden nerd Fielding Mellish (Woody Allen); he was employed by General Equipment as a guinea-pig for his New York company's strange inventions as a consumer product tester (including a stereo headphones coffin for Californians).of a malfunctioning, sedentary exercise-machine ("The Execu-cisor") designed to be used by busy office executives at their desks
  • in an adult porno shop, the aspiring playboy Fielding nervously purchased a porno magazine (camouflaged by other more intellectual publications such as Time Magazine, Commentary, Saturday Review, and Newsweek) and was embarrassed when a shop dealer made it obvious to other respectable, disapproving customers that he was purchasing a dirty magazine; Fielding cringed when his order was screamed out by the clerk: ("Hey Ralph? How much is a copy of Orgasm?...Orgasm. This man wants to buy a copy. How much is it?"); Fielding stuttered: "Doing a sociological study on perversion. l'm up to advanced child molesting"
Fielding's Awkward Purchase of a Porn Magazine
  • the cowardly Fielding unsuccessfully attempted to protect an old woman during a subway mugging by two thugs (including a young Sylvester Stallone in his screen debut)
  • Mellish first met his future, red-headed radical, social activist, college student girlfriend Nancy (Louise Lasser) when she visited his apartment and urged him to sign a petition supporting the rebels of San Marcos (a stand-in for Cuba), who were opposed to the new appointed dictator Gen. Emilio M. Vargas (Carlos Montalban)

Fielding's Girlfriend Nancy (Louise Lasser)

Awkward Sex

Dream of Being Crucified
  • after attending a student protest and demonstration together (where Mellish became entangled in a firehose), the two returned to his apartment, where Fielding awkwardly attempted to make a good impression; however, their struggle to have sex was quite unsatisfactory
  • he ended up telling his therapist that as a young boy, he stole a pornographic book printed in Braille and then rubbed the dirty parts with his hands. Due to being a nervous child, he also was a bed-wetter, and was constantly electrocuting himself with his electric blanket; he described how he dreamt of being nailed on a wooden crucifix carried through NYC streets by monks who fought for a parking place with another crucified individual
  • shortly later, Nancy decided to break up with him when she complained that she needed something "more"; she claimed it wasn't because of his personality or looks, or his intelligence, or his short height or bad teeth; she said that she needed a "strong man" or "leader" with political convictions; her main objection was that he was completely immature: (Fielding: "How am I immature?" Nancy: "Well, emotionally, sexually and intellectually." Fielding: "Yeah, but what other ways?")
  • in despair after the breakup, Fielding decided to travel to the tiny Latin American banana republic (fictional) of San Marcos by himself to see what the conditions were like down there; meanwhile, a resistance fighter (Axel Anderson) was being tortured in a room by Vargas and forced to listen to a phonograph record player playing the entire score of Naughty Marietta; he revealed that rebel leader Esposito (Jacobo Morales) was planning a revolutionary strike two months into the future
  • Fielding arrived in San Marcos and entered the cheap Hotel Bonaire; soon after, he was invited to an 8 pm dinner with the President at Vargas' palace; harp playing in the background came from a man practicing with his harp in his closet ("l was trying to find someplace for practice"); upon being greeted as the guest of the new dictator Gen. Vargas at his palace, Fielding was labeled "an American intellectual" who would be able to "exchange political ideas and opinions"; the tense and nervous, Fielding began chewing on his wine glass after Vargas' poison-tester fell ill; a small concert band above them on the balcony pretended in pantomime to be playing non-existent instruments
  • in an after-dinner discussion, Vargas declared: "If l give a better life to my people, l have to exterminate a few troublemakers," causing Fielding even more trepidation; after Fielding departed, Vargas described his conspiratorial plan: "We'll kill him as planned - dressed as rebels. Then an outraged United States will see how bloodthirsty beasts Esposito and his men are and we'll get all the support we need"
  • soon after, in the countryside, Fielding was assaulted and chased by a disguised group of Vargas' assassins posing and dressed as rebels. suddenly, after believing he had escaped, he was knocked out, and awoke in the rebel camp of Esposito's soldier forces; he was told that Vargas had falsely publicized, as a propaganda tactic, that he had been killed by the rebels; Fielding was told he would have to remain there until the revolution was won in six months
  • while training with the rebels in the jungle, nebbish Fielding viewed a half-naked woman (Princess Fatosh) clutching her left breast while crying out: "I got bitten by a snake" - this was after he had learned about first-aid treatment for snakebite: ("In the event of snake-bite, you make an incision and you suck out the poison - remember, you suck out the poison"); with a huge grin on his face, he pursued her greedily and lasciviously, and was followed by the rest of the rebel soldiers
  • once the rebels' food supply ran out during their South American revolution, Fielding was appointed to prove himself by visiting the nearby town; there, he placed a complicated to-go order of 1,000 grilled cheese, 300 tuna and 200 BLT sandwiches and 700 regular coffees, 500 Cokes and 1,000 7-Ups (and coleslaw) for troops at a lunch counter deli
  • shortly later, the rebels over-ran San Marcos, and Vargas fled to Miami after renting an expensive room at the Fontainebleau Hotel; once the revolution was successful and the capital of the banana republic of San Marcos was overrun by the rebels, the "glassy-eyed" Esposito betrayed his cause; the power-mad, rebel leader refused to step down, and ordered Vargas' supporters to be ruthlessly lined up to be executed by a firing squad - each one was given a 'service-number' to establish the order
  • it was obvious to Fielding and others that the new head of the republic Esposito, who refused to follow through on his revolutionary beliefs, was insane and needed to be deposed; Fielding was recruited, although under protest, to be the new El Presidente of the republic to replace the Caligula-like rebel leader Esposito
  • wearing a ridiculous fake red beard to pose as a Castro-like revolutionary guerrilla, Fielding returned to the US to attend a high-society dinner fundraiser for upper-class dignitaries; he opened his speech with a grossly inappropriate joke, followed by an outrageous plea for money - in which he haplessly drew attention to his country’s worst parts – locusts, loose women, hernias and STDs: "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..."
  • CIA government officials feared that the Latin American leader was an imposter who was threatening to overthrow the United States, and decided to arrest him for treason: "attempting the overthrow of the United States government" as a "subversive imposter"
  • Fielding was also reunited with Nancy (who at first didn't recognize him and thought of him as wonderful compared to her previous "idiot" boyfriend - "He was just this little stupid clown"); she described how she was impressed by his tremendous leadership qualities: ("l think that you are terrific. Really terrific...l'm awestruck...Would you mind if l kissed you... once?"); after a cut to black (and Nancy's words: "That was wonderful. lt was practically a religious experience"), the two appeared in bed where Fielding removed his disguise and revealed his true identity; she was aghast: "My God, I knew something was missing"
  • news stations reported Fielding's upcoming trial for treason; during the scene of his US trial (The People vs Fielding Mellish), Fielding immediately objected to Judge (Arthur Hughes): ("l object, Your Honor. This trial is a travesty. lt's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. l move for a mistrial. Do you realize there's not a single homosexual on that jury?"); various character witnesses were called to the stand, including a prejudiced Police Officer Dowd (Ted Chapman), a transvestite-disguised FBI head J. Edgar Hoover (Dorothi Fox) who appeared as a fat, middle-aged black woman with an Afro hairstyle, and Miss America Sharon Craig (Dagne Crane) who sang her beauty pageant's talent competition song from an opera
  • during the unconventional trial, Fielding questioned character witnesses, and when he was called to the stand, he also acted as his own defense lawyer - he cross-examined and interrogated himself - exhaustingly jumping in and out of the witness box: ("I wouldn't joke if I were you!" - "Wouldn't you, or couldn't you?") - both posing and answering non-sensical questions; the court's ruling was that Mellish was found guilty on 12 counts of treason and would receive a 15-year suspended sentence (if he promised to not live in the Judge's neighborhood)
  • the closing televised Fielding Mellish Honeymoon Night broadcast (on Wide World of Sports) was viewed as a between-the-covers, sexual boxing match by commentator Howard Cosell; Fielding was reunited with Nancy as his recent marital partner and in bed with her at the Royal Manhattan Hotel for the competitive bout; their speedy sex session that lasted 30 seconds was described by Nancy: "Well, Howard, it all went by so fast. I just had no idea that it would be so quick, really. I was expecting a longer bout... Well, as you know, l'm extraordinarily ticklish so l had a kind of a rough time there. l couldn't stop laughing...And you know, l thought it would really get in my way. But l really trained well for this and l think it sort of held me, so there really wasn't any time that l didn't feel in complete control." Then she added that it was over too quickly: "The timing was a little off, but I think he'll be fine. I mean, he's not the worst l've had. Not the best, but not the worst"; their next bout would possibly be in the late spring, although they seemed to disagree on a date for a future rematch
  • Cosell ended the interview with special hope that "they may live happily ever after and again they may not," but assured the viewers that he would be there to cover the action

Howard Cosell's Play-by-Play of a Latin-American Assassination

Fielding Mellish as Consumer Product Tester

Subway Mugging by Thugs (Sylvester Stallone)

Torture Victim of Gen. Vargas

General Vargas at Dinner With Afflicted Poison-Tester

Rebel Leader Esposito (Jacobo Morales)

Fielding Offering to "Suck Out the Poison"

To-Go Order of Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Coffee

The New President of San Marcos - Fielding Mellish

Speech as President of San Marcos (With Fake Beard)

Fielding Revealing His True Identity in Bed with Nancy

Mellish Bound and Gagged During His Trial for Treason

Honeymoon Night: Boxing Match


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