Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • 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.

  • Two separate but interweaving stories of the moral choices made in crumbling marriages and marital infidelity are presented. On the want of his wife Wendy and so that he can finance his own project, struggling documentary filmmaker Clifford Stern reluctantly accepts the offer of Wendy's brother, Lester, a successful but pompous and egotistical television producer, to shoot a commissioned documentary of him for a television documentary anthology series. The offer by Lester is also reluctant as he has a mutual dislike of Cliff, but wanted to help Wendy. However, in the process of shooting, Cliff meets recently divorced Halley Reed, an associate producer for the documentary television series. As Cliff and Halley spend time together, he contemplates having an affair with her, not only because he feels his life with Wendy is stagnating, but because Halley had previously rejected Lester's advances. Meanwhile, well respected and honored ophthalmologist Judah Rosenthal learns that his mistress of two years, ex-flight attendant Dolores Paley, wants to tell Judah's wife of twenty-five years, Miriam, of their affair. Despondent Dolores believes that Judah has lied to her in that he stated or at least implied that he would leave Miriam, and as such she has placed her life and opportunities on hold for him. Judah denies that he ever intended on leaving Miriam. As Judah speaks to others for guidance, both spiritual and practical, on how to handle the issue with Dolores who is applying greater and greater pressure on him, Judah contemplates taking the advice of his lowlife brother Jack to have her murdered so that he can retain the outwardly successful and happy life he leads.

  • Ophthalmologist Judah Rosenthal has had an affair with Dolores for several years, and now she threatens to ruin his life if he doesn't marry her. When his brother Jack suggests to have Dolores murdered, Judah is faced with a big moral dilemma: destruction of his life or murder. Meanwhile, documentary filmmaker Clifford Stern is trying to make a film of a philosophy professor, but instead he's commissioned to make a portrait of successful TV producer and brother-in-law Lester, who to Clifford represents everything that he despises.

  • In two separate stories of adultery; a New York doctor resorts to desperate measures to cover up his long-term adulterous affair. An unhappily married documentary filmmaker fights an adulterous temptation while making his latest documentary on a TV producer.

  • An ophthalmologist's mistress threatens to reveal their affair to his wife while a married documentary filmmaker is infatuated with another woman.


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