Suffering from writer's block and eagerly awaiting his writing award, Harry Block remembers events from his past and scenes from his best-selling books as characters, real and fictional, come back to haunt him.
Judah Rosenthal is an ophthalmologist and a pillar of the community who has a big problem: his mistress Dolores Paley has told him that he is to leave his wife and marry her - as he had promised to do - or she will tell everyone of their affair. When he intercepts a letter Dolores has written to his wife Miriam, he is frantic. He confesses all to his shady brother Jack who assures him that he has friends who can take care of her. Meanwhile, filmmaker Cliff Stern is having his own problems. He's been working on a documentary film for some time but has yet to complete it. He and his wife Wendy have long ago stopped loving one another and are clearly on their way to divorce. He falls in love with Halley Reed who works with a producer, Lester. Cliff soon finds himself making a documentary about Lester and hates every minute of it. Written by
Clifford's sarcastic remark to Halley Reed that he loves Lester like a brother; David Greenglass refers to the fact David Greenglass was the brother of executed atomic spy Ethel Rosenberg and that his testimony at their trial help convict her and her husband Julius. See more »
When Judah decides to have Delores killed, he only dials seven digits on the phone calling his brother, Jack. Judah lives in Connecticut and Jack lives in New York, so he would have to dial at least 10 digits to call him. See more »
We're all very proud of Judah Rosenthal's philanthropic efforts. His endless hours of fund raising for the hospital, the new medical center, and now, the ophthalmology wing, which until this year had just been a dream. But it's due to Rosenthal our friend that we most appreciate. The husband, the father, the golf companion. Naturally if you have a medical problem you can call Judah...
You're blushing darling.
...day or night, weekends or holidays. But you can also call Judah to ...
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String Quartet in G major, Op. 161, D.887, 1st movement
Music by Franz Schubert
Performed by the Juilliard String Quartet (as Juilliard Quartet)
Courtesy of CBS Masterworks
Under license from CBS Special Products
A Division of CBS Records, Inc. See more »
After watching four of Woody Allen's movies, I am now convinced that he is one of the best directors of all time. His blend of a serious subject matter and humor is executed into perfection. Crimes and Misdemeanors is probably as serious as Allen can get. It sometimes plays like a thriller and suspense, but it also contains signature Allen humor.
Crimes and Misdemeanors is essentially about two separate stories connected only by ending the way it supposed to end in the real world. Allen implies that how these stories ended is not how they will end in a movie but how they will end in reality. Again, Allen explores the nature of human beings, analyzes relationships, and studies human decisions.
The first story involves a successful Ophthalmologist named Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau). He has been married for decades with several children, but has had an affair with a flight attendant named Dolores Paley (Anjelica Huston). Dolores is now obsessed with Judah and plans to confront his wife and reveal his financial secrets if Judah does not leave his wife. After his brother suggested murdering Dolores, Judah tries to decide if he wants to save his life or face murder.
The other story involves struggling documentary filmmaker Clifford Stern (Woody Allen). He was forced to make a documentary about his successful brother-in-law-which he despises. He agreed to do it only for the money, and in the process, fell in love with an associate named Halley Reed (Mia Farrow). His problem is that he is married and his brother-in-law Lester (Alan Alda) is also making a pass at Halley. Halley must now decide whether she wants to be with a sincere man or a rich successful one.
Halley and Judah's decisions are also meant for the audience to analyze. What would we do if we were in their situation? Would we do the same thing they did? Can we stand having a murder in our conscience? Would we go for the wealthy man even though he may be a phony? Allen plays the audience with this questions and expertly guides them his characters' decisions.
Allen intercuts the Judah story with Judah's memories. His recollections of his times with Dolores and his childhood memories with his family. He recalls his father teaching him about God and our obligations. These memories made his decision harder and regrettable. In the other story, a professor makes some statements about life. These statements were heard again in the final montage, and this seems to be Allen's ultimate message about life, relationships, and decisions.
This movie is very similar to my favorite Allen movie Hannah and her Sisters. They both involve several storylines that is connected only by the central theme and message. Allen's excellent writing is complimented by his steady direction. Crimes and Misdemeanors is not as funny as Annie Hall or as accomplished as Manhattan, but it certainly ranks as one of Allen's best films.
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