In a welcome return to straightforward comedy, erratic auteur Woody Allen laid off the arty melodramas in 1994, directing both an amusing made-for-TV film of his Broadway play, Don't Drink the Water
, and this deft period farce, his most enjoyable movie in years.
At the height of the Roaring Twenties, Broadway playwright David Shayne (John Cusack) is an honest artist among the Philistines--until his backer, mobster Nicky Valenti (Joe Viterelli), sees Shayne's play as a vehicle for his ditzy showgirl mistress, Olive (Jennifer Tilly). Further concessions
are called for by grande dame of the thea-tuh Helen Sinclair (Diane Wiest). But Shayne's most effective...