117 - Crimes & Misdemeanors (1989)

Crimes & Misdemeanors tells two concurrent stories of a doctor whose life threatens to be overturned by the woman he has been having an affair with and an aspiring director who becomes infatuated with an associate producer.

When successful doctor Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau) finds a letter addressed to his wife from his mistress he is forced to take action. She threatens him with revealing their sordid affair unless he marries her, allegedly fulfilling his promise to her. He calls his mafioso brother in order to get rid of her.

Meanwhile, Cliff Stern (Woody Allen) has not had sex with his wife in over a year and in order to boost his career she offers to set him up filming the life of her producer brother - whom Cliff despises. As Cliff decides whether to sell himself out, he comes across Halley Reed (Mia Farrow), an associate producer, who helps him make up his mind.

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
Crimes and Misdemeanors is essentially the telling of the same theme from the viewpoint of two very different characters. On one hand we have Allen's Cliff - a shy and retiring yet hard working aspiring film director who is down on his luck. Despite his moral compass looking very different to Landau's Judah it is clear that he seems to be following the same path as the successful doctor in his potential infidelity. Besides the theme, there is very little to connect the two stories except Cliff's brother-in-law who regularly visits Judah in order to have his eye disease looked at.

One of the other major links in the story is the obnoxious yet successful movie director Lester (Alan Alda) - Cliff's other brother-in-law - who is everything that Cliff hates, and everything he wishes he was. As Cliff begins to make the story of Lester, the audience is exposed to similarities between Lester and Judah who appear to be ruthless in their search for power and success.

Of course, as a Woody Allen film, one can expect some very dark and droll humour and Crimes and Misdemeanors is certainly no different with some cracking one-liners that are timed to absolute perfection. The dreary sets also add to the atmosphere as the 70's style wood-based furniture instils very little confidence in anything the characters are trying to achieve in life.

Thought provoking, amusing and oh, so, droll.