Crimes and Misdemeanors Preview

Mae-Emlyn Curie, Staff Writer

“Crimes and Misdemeanors” is a film written by, directed by, and co-starring Woody Allen. It was released in 1989 and was nominated for three Academy Awards: Woody Allen for both Best Director and Best Writing, and Martin Landau for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Landau plays one of the main characters named Judah Rosenthal, a successful ophthalmologist. Allen stars as the second protagonist Clifford Stern, a small-time filmmaker. Other cast members include Alan Alda as Lester, a successful television producer and brother-in-law of Stern; Mia Farrow as Halley Reed, Lester’s associate producer; Anjelica Huston as Dolores Paley, a flight attendant.

Judah is a respectable family man, but he has been having an affair with Dolores for two years. Dolores writes a letter to Judah’s wife Miriam confessing that she has been having an affair with Judah, but Judah discovers the letter in the mail pile unopened. After reading it, Judah tosses it into the fire and watches it burn. He then confronts Dolores and tells her that she had no right to do what she did. Dolores claims that Judah promised that he would leave his wife for her, but Judah protests that he has been with Miriam for 25 years and that the situation is complicated.

Distressed by everything going on his life, Judah confides in one of his patients Ben, who is a rabbi quickly losing his eyesight. Ben advises Judah to be honest with Miriam, but Judah does not want to ruin his marriage. Instead, Judah informs his brother Jack about the situation, and Jack hires a hitman to kill Dolores. Before her body is found, Judah scavenges letters and other items from her apartment. Seeing her dead body causes him to turn to religious teachings he had previously rejected. For the first time, he believes that God is watching over him.

Meanwhile, Lester hires Clifford to create a documentary specifically for Lester’s life and work. This only makes Clifford grow to detest Lester. While filming, he falls in love with Halley. Discouraged about his failing marriage to Wendy, Lester’s sister, Clifford tries to win Halley by showing her footage from his current documentary, whose main subject is Professor Louis Levy, a renowned philosopher. Clifford notifies Halley that he is only doing the documentary for Lester for money and that his project about Levy is his main focus. It becomes evident that Clifford dislikes Lester at its first screening. Clifford makes a pass at Halley, who shoots him down. Later, Levy commits suicide and Halley and Lester become engaged.

Personally, I enjoyed this film and highly recommend it because the casting was spot on, and the drama was not too intense. It shows what people do in desperate situations and also makes viewers question what they would do in those cases.

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