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CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS (1989)

This Woody Allen bi-narrative features a New York doctor, Judah Rosenthal, trying to cover up his long-term affair by allegedly murdering his mistress.  Meanwhile, documentary filmmaker Clifford Stern is asked to film a successful TV producer, coincidentally his brother-in-law Lester, who Clifford happens to despise.

The top notch cast includes: Woody Allen, Caroline Aaron, Alan Alda, Claire Bloom, Mia Farrow, Joanna Gleason, Anjelica Huston, Martin Landau, Jenny Nichols, Jerry Orbach, and Sam Waterston.

Written and directed by Woody Allen.

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Promotional Line: "A film about humanity."

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The basic story involves an adulterous doctor, Judah Rosenthal (Landau) and a love smitten documentary filmmaker, Cliff Stern (Allen). Their paths eventually cross, with provocative results. Crimes and Misdemeanors" offers a nearly perfect balance between comedy and drama.

Martin Landau plays this well-known, very successful eye doctor, who has it all; A very successful practice, both community and professional recognition, a wonderful marriage and family, and a crazy, unbalanced mistress, Dolores Paley (Huston), who threatens to tell his wife, Miriam (Claire Bloom) and spill the beans on how the good doctor borrowed money from the foundation, if the doctor ends his affair with her. He takes a desperate action to solve his problem, which leaves him to struggle with the morality of what he did.

Woody Allen is an idealistic independent film documentary maker, Cliff, in a bad marriage. To earn money to finance his current documentary about a wise present day philosopher, Professor Louis Levy (Martin Bergmann) he takes a filming gig. It involves catching on film the pontificating of a self-absorbed media advisor, Lester, who is making a film for PBS on why he is so successful. Allen falls in love with the PBS coordinator, Halley Reed (Mia Farrow) in charge of this particular documentary, while still married to his current wife, Wendy (Joanna Gleason) who is the sister of this egotistical media advisor, played with relish by Alan Alda.

My favorite scene involves Landau and Allen. Having met at a party, Landau tells the story of the murder he committed to Allen, as though it was a hypothetical situation. It makes the audience a co-conspirator with Landau, providing a thought provoking screen scene.

Martin Landau gives a standout performance as a married doctor who murders his mistress. Landau later won the Oscar for his role as Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood."

Alan Alda plays a media expert who's full of himself. His explanation of what is and isn't funny is a hoot. Alda, who made a name for himself being likable on TVs acclaimed "M.A.S.H.," seems to have had a lot fun playing a hot air balloon of jerkdom. Alda also was in Woody Allen's "Manhattan Murder Mystery."

Anjelica Huston, with her performance as Landau's mistress, delivers another in her long series of well crafted screen portrayals. Huston's father, the late John Huston ("Maltese Falcon" and "The African Queen") was one of America's great film directors.

The film's screen images are clean, crisp, and classy. Director of Photography Sven Nykvist was the responsible party.

Director and writer Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors" which is a unique blend of comedy and drama, and is a nearly perfect example of a filmmaker working at the height of his powers. Woody received a Oscar nomination for his talented directing.

This was Allen's 19th movie. Some believe this to be the Woodman's most accomplished film. I certainly don't disagree.

If you enjoyed CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, you may like MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY, BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, TUCKER, ANNIE HALL, ED WOOD, LOVE AND DEATH, and MIGHTY APHRODITE.

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