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
Lester is based on Larry Gelbart, whom both Woody Allen and Alan Alda worked with and reportedly disliked because of his despotic ways. Lester's various comments such as "Comedy is tragedy plus time" and "If it bends, it's funny; if it breaks, it's not funny" were actual Gelbart quotes. In spite of this reputed dislike for Gelbart, Allen called him "the best comedy writer that I ever knew and one of the best guys" in a statement shortly following Gelbart's death, and Alda said, "Larry's genius for writing changed my life because I got to speak his lines -- lines that were so good they'll be with us for a long, long time; but his other genius -- his immense talent for being good company -- is a light that's gone out and we're all sitting here in the dark." (from the Los Angeles Times obituary) 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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When I registered with the IMDb, one of the survey questions asked what my favorite film was. I listed Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors. I don't know if this is always true, but for the most part I feel fairly confident regarding my choice. Allen's story here works, like most well written literature, on many levels. It is funny (Woody's lessons), symbolic (the Rabbi going blind), ironic (the good suffer and the evil go unpunished), deep (faith and suicide), and is a film that leaves you with something to identify with and learn from. Even Hally Reed's (Mia Farrow) surprising revelation at the end of the film, which I won't reveal of course, shows us a bit about the dangers of prejudging others. Woody shows us that we shouldn't judge on the surface, but must look deeper into the individual value of people. Do we trust Hally, or do we stick to what we see as the truth about Lester (Alan Alda)? This is a lesson that Woody's character, Cliff, doesn't even fully grasp at the end of the film, but Allen gives us the insight, even though what Hally reveals about Lester goes against what we've seen of him.
Crimes and Misdemeanors is certainly not for all tastes. It's not exactly a film that people would watch for pure escapism. This is a film to be treasured, revisited and held up with some of the greatest films of all time. Not for how it looks or sounds, but for what it says. This is a film aimed at both the heart and the mind and succeeds in capturing both.
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