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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Most would say "Annie Hall", some would say "Manhattan", those who prefer Allen's early career might even mention "Sleeper". Few would call "Crimes and Misdemeanors" Woody Allen's best film as writer/director, but the more I watch it, the more I realize that it's not only my favorite, but in many ways the film Allen was working towards for the entirety of his career as a writer prior to this.
In "Crimes and Misdemeanors" Allen revisits a recurring theme in many of his films, adultery. It would be a simplistic and narrow-minded view of this film to say that it was simply about adultery because it is really far more complex than that, and essentially a film about all varieties of human nature and relationships, and one could even argue- the relationship between reality and film as explored through the lens of genre- romantic comedy, Film-Noir, and documentary, and what parts of this film are- satire.
"Crimes and Misdemeanors" is one of Allen's best scripts. Any screenplay attempting to accomplish as much as this one does could easily fall apart, and Allen has had less convincing attempts than this one with similar ambitions, but everything works beautifully here. This film practically defines the 'tragicomedy' sub-genre, with neither overpowering the other and much of the humor is dark humor originating in tragedy, something that is acknowledged by Allen through the character of Lester (played to perfection by Alan Alda), who comments that comedy is nothing more than "tragedy plus time". He also mentions that comedy has to have an ending, and that's one of the best things about this movie- Allen allows dramatic scenes to succeed at being dramatic and emotional, then throws a hilarious punchline at you, which has an effect that is both entertaining and somewhat unsettling. This is an expertly-written movie.
"Crimes and Misdemeanors" is the culmination of a decade of consistently brilliant, evocative, original, and fascinating films from Woody Allen, whose 80's output I would personally consider to be his best. His 70's work is far more popular, but his 80's work contains some of the most unique and memorable films ever made: "Stardust Memories", "Zelig", "The Purple Rose of Cairo", and "Hannah and Her Sisters", as well as numerous overlooked and generally forgotten films that can only be called excellent, such as: "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy", "Broadway Danny Rose", "Radio Days", "September", and "Another Woman". On top of all these memorable films is "Crimes and Misdemeanors", which is simply my favorite Woody Allen film and almost certainly his best and most focused effort.
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