Crimes And Misdemeanors ****

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I have never really been in to Woody Allen. I used to wonder what all the hype was about. I realize now that I was basing my opinion on the only movies of his that I have seen which were some of his worst. Movies like “Anything Else”, “Curse Of The Jade Scorpion”, and “Hollywood Ending”. I am starting to go through his older films and I can see why he is so respected and has been in the business for so long.

“Crimes And Misdemeanors” tells two parallel stories. The first involves Martin Landau as Judah Rosenthal, a respectable family man who is having an affair with Dolores played by Anjelica Huston. Dolores has been under the impression that Judah would be leaving his wife and marrying her for a few years. When Judah attempts to break it off, she becomes hysterical and threatens to tell his wife of their affair. This is when he turns to his mob connected brother for help. He offers to bump her off.

The second story follows Cliff, played by Woody Allen, as he is hired by his pompous brother-in-law played by Alan Alda, to film a documentary about his life and career. While filming he falls in love with is brother-in-law’s associate producer, Halley Reed, played by Mia Farrow.

How these stories play out I will not spoil here. But everything comes down to a single scene in which these two characters sit and talk. Their meeting is simply by chance. Their words are so perfectly fit together. It is a simple yet masterful final scene. One that will sit with me for a long time.

Slowly but surely I am gaining an appreciation for Woody Allen. His career seems to have had a lot of ups and downs. He is still going strong as he directs a new movie pretty much every year. Hopefully as I dig deeper I will find more gems like this one.

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