Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
Movie InfoWoody Allen spent most of the 1980s and '90s veering between comedy and drama, and he rarely combined the two with greater success than in Crimes and Misdemeanors, in which he weaved together two stories, one deadly serious, one often funny, both ending in sadness. Martin Landau plays Dr. Judah Rosenthal, a prominent ophthalmologist with a successful practice, a loving family, and a reputation for generous charity work. But Rosenthal also has a secret: his mistress, Dolores (Anjelica Huston). What began as a casual fling has become uncomfortably intimate, and as he tries to break off the relationship, Dolores threatens to expose his infidelity to his wife and some unorthodox financial arrangements to his colleagues. Fearful that Dolores will make good on her threats, Judah confesses his secret to his brother Jack (Jerry Orbach), who has ties to organized crime and offers to "make the problem go away." Meanwhile, Cliff Stern (Woody Allen) is a filmmaker working on his pet project, a documentary about philosopher Prof. Louis Levy (Martin Bergmann). However, films about philosophers don't pay the rent, so Cliff's wife Wendy (Joanna Gleason) arranges for him to make a documentary for public television about her brother Lester (Alan Alda), a famous TV comedian whose vapidity is exceeded only by his arrogance. While Cliff tries to bite the bullet and finish the film, he finds himself falling in love with PBS producer Halley Reed (Mia Farrow). ~ Mark Deming, Rovi … More
Related News & Features
Anna Berger: 1922-2014
– New York Times
Five Favorite Films With Submarine Director Richard Ayoade
– Rotten Tomatoes
No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.Login
Critic Reviews for Crimes and Misdemeanors
The overall 'philosophical' thrust -- that good guys finish last and that crime does pay -- is designed to make the audience feel very wise, but none of the characters or ideas is allowed to develop beyond its cardboard profile.
The structural and stylistic conceit is that when Landau is onscreen, the film is dead serious, even solemn, while Allen's own appearance onscreen signals hilarious satire and priceless one-liners.
Dramatically, the film seldom fulfils its promise, and its pessimistic 'moral' -- that good and evil do not always meet with their just deserts -- looks contrived and hollow. Intriguing and patchily effective, nevertheless.
The movie's secret strength -- its structure, really -- comes from the truth of the dozens and dozens of particular details through which it arrives at its own very hesitant, not especially comforting, very moving generality.
The movie generates the best kind of suspense, because it's not about what will happen to people -- it's about what decisions they will reach.
A relative of Hannah and Her Sisters in its duplex structure and of The Purple Rose of Cairo in its bitter theme, Crimes is two movies in one, a blend of Allen's satiric and pretentious dramatic styles.
Nervy and unnerving...arguably the purest expression of Allen's cinematic vision. [Blu-ray]
A truly brilliant study of murder and its psychological effects on the people that dare commit it.
Using the paper-thin lead characters as symbols to show how blind people are about themselves and their relationships has little gravitas, but the comedy is stinging.
The result is a frighteningly intelligent, and often hilariously funny whole.
Um discurso filosófico-religioso sobre moralidade e culpa que, por incrível que pareça, não apenas comove como também nos faz rir de maneira surpreendente.
Allen starts with a sketchy premise and after working it through for 107 minutes he still has no more than the premise he started with.
Intelligent, insightful and funny. One of Woody Allen's best films.
This examination of the nature of evil interweaves masterfully comedy and melodrama in equal proportion. Instead of taking a casually brutal approach, Allen dwells on the consequences of sin.
Near top of line Woody Allen with Alda, Landau, Huston shining.
...this dark meditation on justice and the lack of it may be his best film.
one of Allen's best, a must-see!
Allen's neurotic outlook on life has never been presented with more clarity.
If Crimes and Misdemeanors isn't Woody Allen's best blending of drama and comedy, it's most certainly in the running.
Woody was still in that magical time where he couldn't fail.
Audience Reviews for Crimes and Misdemeanors
I coincidentally happened to watch this on Woody's birthday, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate the man than by watching one of his finest films. In one of his finest films to blend comedy and drama, we get a superb meditation on choice, morality, fidelity, and the consequences of such things told both humorously and tragically.
With the dramatic story, we get wealthy society man Judah Rosenthal whose ex-mistress is planning to expose his marital and financial indiscretions. He finds himself torn between taking the advice of his rabbi or following the propositions made by his mob-connected brother. Comedically, there's the story of filmmaker Cliff Stern who is torn between making an important work full of integrity or selling out to make a commercial piece that flatters a man who doesn't really deserve it. Yeah, the two stories have a big contrast in terms of the immediate impact of things, but the repercussions of things are matched in the weightiness of ow it'll all end.
This really is a joy to watch, even when it gets dark and heavy. It's impeccably written, wonderfully acted, very compelling, and succeeds with both the drama and the comedy (some of the best laughs being the interactions between Cliff and his niece). And on top of that, the climax and final monologue are simply perfect. I very highly recommend this masterpiece.
Perhaps this is a good movie - after all 90% of reviewers like it. I'm in the 10%. Is the world that full of MD's who get away with murder, comedians who are not funny, filmmakers who cannot make films, marriages that are farces? I guess I would prefer my movies to offer me hope instead of realism.More
"Sleeper" was and has been my favorite Allen film, always light, breezy and fun, but I haven't seen them all and now this dark rumination forces me to alter my original opinion. The acceptance here of dark forces roaming the void is unavoidable and comedy becomes ... disposable, or at best only momentary in a sea of sadness. Must see for Allen fans.More
Woody Allen has taken the exhausting drama we are used to seeing when we turn on drippy television programs, and used those as a device for satire. We get examples of just what he is poking fun at when his character takes relatives of his to the movies. In such scenes, we see and hear snippets of black-and-white melodramas with strikingly similar plots to the one in this film itself. Only Woody Allen could have made such a film.More
Crimes and Misdemeanors Quotes
- Cliff Stern:
- The last time I was inside a woman was when I visited the Statue of Liberty. [Woody Allen describing his sex life]
- Judah Rosenthal:
- Without God the world is a cesspool.
Discuss Crimes and Misdemeanors on our Movie forum!