Vintage Video: “Radio Days” far from over

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First Posted: 10/30/2014

With Woody Allen’s latest “Magic In The Moonlight” hitting DVD in about a month, it seems like an ideal time to check out “Radio Days,” one of the filmmaker’s most underrated gems and the movie that began his still-running partnership with production designer – and Wilkes-Barre native – Santo Loquasto.

Newly available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time, the 1987 stunner is set primarily in Rockaway, Queens in the 1930s and 1940s. The action concerns both the members of a tight-knit Jewish clan (Julie Kavner, Michael Tucker, Dianne Wiest, Seth Green) and the Manhattan-based radio performers (Mia Farrow) who capture their imaginations.

It’s charmingly episodic with Allen providing funny, occasionally bittersweet, voice-over narration to link together vignettes, gags, radio broadcasts and the occasional musical number.

“Radio Days” is also one of the most visually lush of all Allen films, and that’s due, at least in part, to Loquasto, who netted an Oscar nomination for his work. Thanks to the designer’s attention to detail, the era comes alive. You can practically smell the fish cooking in the kitchen.

Born in Wilkes-Barre, Loquasto moved to Easton, Pa. when he nine. He attended Moravian Prep – now Moravian Academy – and began designing sets at the Pennsylvania Playhouse in Bethlehem and the Showcase Theatre in Wilkes-Barre.

Loquasto received a B.A. in English Literature from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre He earned his Masters of Fine Arts degree from Yale Drama School in 1969 and finally left Easton behind in 1978 to live in Manhattan.

After “Radio Days,” Allen continued to hire Loquasto for every one of his U.S.-set movies, including such acclaimed works as “Crimes and Misdemeanors” “Bullets Over Broadway” and 2013’s “Blue Jasmine,” the pair’s 22nd collaboration.