Uncut - 08/01/2001
"[T]his is an ambitious blend of comedy, drama and ruminations on humanity that Allen juggles with the skill of a director on top form."
CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS is Woody Allen's most mature, most profound film. Martin Landau plays Judah Rosenthal, a successful ophthalmologist having an affair with Dolores (Anjelica Huston), who is threatening to reveal their relationship unless Judah commits to her and leaves his wife. He admits his sin to Ben (Sam Waterston), a friend, a patient, and a learned rabbi who is losing his eyesight but not his faith. Judah turns to his brother Jack, who is connected to the mob and can make Dolores disappear. Allen plays Cliff Stern, a documentary filmmaker who accepts an assignment to film his pompous, successful brother-in-law, Lester (Alan Alda), a comedy star; both Cliff and Lester fall for Hallie Reed (Mia Farrow), a producer involved in the documentary. Allen the director brings all the characters together in a fabulous mix of comedy and drama, deceit and delight. CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS is a marvel of complexity, with fascinating, well-written characters; deep, complicated relationships; and thought-provoking examinations of religion, infidelity, morality, murder, comedy, and tragedy.
In this uneasy blend of tragedy and comedy, two crosscut plotlines--one a "crime" and the other a "misdemeanor"--investigate modern moral codes. In one, an adulterous ophthalmologist (Martin Landau) hires a hit man to kill his scheming mistress (Angelica Huston) when she threatens to destroy his perfect society marriage by exposing the affair. In the other, a screenwriter (Woody Allen) agrees to pen a tribute to his brother-in-law (Alan Alda), an obnoxious comic, while postponing a more worthy project, a documentary about a Judaic theologian. CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS is one of prolific director Woody Allen's most complex films.
Character Study |
Essential Cinema |
Theatrical Release |
The film was shot on location in New York City; its estimated budget was $13 million.
CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS screened at the Berlin Film Festival, February 1990.
Allen has said that this film is a companion piece to HANNAH AND HER SISTERS. HANNAH centered around the relationships among three sisters, where brothers are the focus in this later film.
Daryl Hannah makes an uncredited appearance as Lester's new actress, in an early party scene.
The film marks Mia Farrow's 10th straight leading appearance in a Woody Allen film.
Theater director Jerry Zaks appears in the film as Man on Campus.
Writer-director Nora Ephron makes a cameo as one of the wedding guests.
The film includes clips from MR. AND MRS. SMITH, THIS GUN FOR HIRE, HAPPY GO LUCKY, THE LAST GANGSTER, and FRANCIS, THE TALKING MULE.
Although they have no scenes together in CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, Sam Waterston and Jerry Orbach went on to star together in the television series LAW AND ORDER.