Crimes and Misdemeanors

Rated PG-13 114 minutes

The first “serious” Woody Allen film with Jewish characters (1989) might seem like an improvement after the pseudoprofundities of Interiors et al, but it can't be said to dig any deeper. Martin Landau plays a wealthy ophthalmologist who plots the murder of his mistress (Anjelica Huston) when she threatens to expose his adultery and embezzlement. In quasi-comic counterpoint is the plight of an unsuccessful documentary filmmaker (Allen) who's stuck in an unhappy marriage, goes to work for his obnoxious brother-in-law (Alan Alda), a successful producer of TV sitcoms, and falls in love with one of his assistants (Mia Farrow). 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 (though Alda has a ball with his part). With Claire Bloom and Sam Waterston (as the perfect all-purpose symbolic Allen character—a rabbi going blind).

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