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Crimes and Misdemeanors (Widescreen)

Martin Landau , Woody Allen , Woody Allen    PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 58.37
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Crimes and Misdemeanors (Widescreen) + Husbands and Wives (Bilingual) + Manhattan Murder Mystery (Widescreen/Full Screen) (Bilingual)
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Some critics and filmgoers have hailed this 1989 comedy-drama as Woody Allen's best film, and while that's certainly open for debate, a good case can be made that it's the most ambitious and morally complex of Allen's films. It's the kind of movie that provokes heated philosophical debate about the role of God in our lives, the nature of guilt, and the circumstances that would allow a seemingly good, law-abiding family man and successful professional (Martin Landau) to commit a murder with no risk of being caught. Could you live with yourself under those conditions? Allen explores this complicated issue in the context of an extramarital affair that Landau's mistress (Anjelica Huston) threatens to expose, while developing a second story about a documentary filmmaker (Allen) who reluctantly makes a film about his brother-in-law (Alan Alda), a TV sitcom producer whose vanity is seemingly unlimited. From serious crimes to misdemeanors of personal behavior, Allen ties these stories together to create a provocative and unsettling study of divergent moralities and the price we're willing to pay to preserve our personal comfort and happiness. It's a sobering film, but a fascinating and funny one as well, unfolding like a thriller in which the question is not whodunit but rather, would you do it if you knew you could get away with it? --Jeff Shannon

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Is Woody Religious? April 6 2003
Woody Allen is the most deeply religious of movie directors; He just doesn't know it yet.
"Crimes and Misdemeanors" (an obvious nod to Fyodor Dostoyevsky) is Allen's most engrossing quest for moral order in the universe, which quest leaves him -- and the viewer -- utterly bereft.
However, unlike the bleak "Interiors" or Allen's hilarious send-up on impending death being the impetus for finding God in "Hannah and Her Sisters," Allen's treatment of God, morality and free will is multi-faceted, and doesn't come to any pat answers.
In fact, it is Allen's ambivalent contemplation of religion and ethics that conservative critics find lacking at best, or disingenuous at worst. I see it differently: Agree or disagree with him, Allen is an atheist who is nonetheless tormented by the conclusion he has reached that there is no God. His is no knee-jerk atheism, as he has clearly thought through the philosophical issues involved, wavering between Nietzschean will to power and outright denial, to existentialist reluctance in the face of the ultimate meaningless of life beyond the here-and-now.
"Crimes and Misdemeanors" is peopled by a sterling cast, whose lives and choices are in direct conflict and contrast with one another; Yet, all speak with one voice, in Allen's exquisitely economical and pointed dialogue.
Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau, in the role of a lifetime, so perfectly is the dialogue tailored to his cadence of voice and gestures), like Job, is a man who has everything he could ever want. Unlike Job, when he sees his wealth and seemingly ideal family life (with wife Claire Bloom) jeopardized, he turns his back on God.
The catalyst for Judah's life crisis is Dolores (Angelica Huston), a lonely airline stewardress with whom he's having more than a fling.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking and Humorous. Oct. 1 2002
~Crimes and Misdemeanors~ is one of Woody Allen's more acclaimed motion pictures. Not since 'Hannah and Her Sisters' had the critics as well as the American public gave it the attention and praise that most of his films deserve. Allen has commented many times that people in his native land, generally, stay away from his pictures in droves. In fact, he has also said, that aside from a small American following, and a substantial European audience, he'd be out of business completely. ~Crimes~ is a unique and decidedly intelligent film that addresses some weighty religious, philosophical and psychological questions, and still managed to gain attention and sell a few tickets at the American box office.
Martin Landau (who won an Oscar for Best Actor) plays Judas - a successful optician caught at the receiving end of his mistresses (Angelica Huston) neurotic threats of revealing their two-year love affair to his wife and the world. Judas's dilemma peaks when his mistress, in a last ditch effort to get him back, threatens to reveal some unscrupulous business dealings in his past. Offers of money and pleas for forgiveness work to no avail until Judas is compelled to do something drastic. The man created two lives, and one is about to destroy the other. He decides to contact his long lost unscrupulous brother, and rationalize that the only way to solve the problem is to fix the mistress - permanently. (Crime)
Woody Allen plays an unhappily married, frustrated documentary filmmaker. Pitted against his egotistical and successful filmmaker brother-in-law (Alan Alda) who hires him to make a biographical documentary about his life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Woody Allen's finest serious film Sept. 15 2002
In Crimes and Misdemeanors, Woody Allen recalls the work of the great European directors (especially Bergman's soul-searching preoccupation with matters of faith). Two stories unfold in parallel: that of a successful ophthalmologist (played by Martin Landau), whose predicament with an extra-marital affair causes him to do the unthinkable; and a the serio-comic flirtations of a small-time documentary film-maker (played by Allen himself) contemplating his own extramarital romp with a production assistant (Mia Farrow).
Landau's character, Judah Rosenthal, afraid of ruination, calls upon his brother (Law and Order's Jerry Orbach) to make his little indiscretion "disappear". She disappears, all right - into oblivion, the victim of a hit-man Orbach's character met through his years in the restaurant business.
Allen's character, by far much lighter and more innocent, is trying to finance a documentary on an upbeat Holocaust survivor and Philosophy professor by condescending to make a television biography of his shallow, egotistical brother-in-law, a famous sit-com producer (Alan Alda).
What these two stories have in common is a deepening ethical dilemma posed by the ambiguity of moral standards in the absence of religious faith. Although raised in a traditionally religious Jewish household, Judah is not, himself, a believer - at least, until the guilt of his mistress' murder presses down upon him almost unbearably. Then he begins to fantasize that he will be caught and punished, if only because the seeing eye of God is everywhere, and He will make certain of it. Similarly, Allen's character is driven to the point of crisis not only by his failure to snag his own mistress, but by the suicide of the professor whose life seemed the very model of spiritual triumph in the face of adversity.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great movie of modern life
When i was young i recall watching the great movies of neil simon on tv, brighton beach memoirs and biloxi blues,and those films of his one time wife marsha mason,and his big break... Read more
Published on June 9 2012 by Anthony Marinelli
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant film about the nature of guilt and judgement
Deeply moving, deeply though-provoking, brilliantly acted and occasionally very funny. A disturbing, dark film about human nature that still manages to leave room for a glimmer of... Read more
Published on April 16 2011 by K. Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars How round is your circle?
There's no need to force conclusions from this fantastic movie about either the nature of god or the nature of man - that would be like rejecting the circle that I draw because you... Read more
Published on Nov. 4 2007 by Vote Sizing Steve
4.0 out of 5 stars Crime but no time
I think what Allen meant to call this film was "Felonies and Misdemeanors" since a misdemeanor is a crime and the title a little redundant. Read more
Published on May 15 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars God Is Not An Idiot
Examining theodicy, the enigma of reconciling a benevolent God with capricious fate and suffering, Woody Allen fails to get much beyond a dark comic-dramatization of a freshman... Read more
Published on March 10 2004 by Edward J. Baker
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerfully intelligent film
This is not a typical Woody Allen film in that it has an overall seriously philosophical quality. The performance of Martin Landau as a successful opthamolgist who is morally... Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2004 by R. J. Marsella
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Woody Allen Film
This film ranks among Woody's best:
Annie Hall, Manhattan, Deconstructing Harry, Hannah and Her Sisters, Interiors, and Stardust Memories
Amazing performances by the... Read more
Published on Dec 21 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars situational ethics under scrutiny
I had read only great reviews about this film from all quarters, and then was asked to teach it to high school students. Read more
Published on Sept. 17 2002 by Bill Engel
5.0 out of 5 stars Near The Top Of The 'Woody List'
Crimes and Misdemeanors is my favorite of Woody Allen's dramas and it is a drama. If you're looking for pure comedy, look elsewhere. Read more
Published on Sept. 1 2002 by "mnlaustin"
Perhaps Woody Allen's finest writing and directing, rich in irony, symbolism and impeccably well-crafted characters. Read more
Published on Aug. 9 2002 by Noah
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