Martin landau as judah rosenthal
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Martin Landau as Judah Rosenthal. Successful and respected eye doctor, wealthy lifestyle, loving wife and children. He is weak, a liar and a cheat. His affair with a flight attendant makes him feel young and happy again but threatens to ruin his life.

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Martin Landau as Judah Rosenthal

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Martin landau as judah rosenthal

Martin Landau as Judah Rosenthal

  • Successful and respected eye doctor, wealthy lifestyle, loving wife and children.

  • He is weak, a liar and a cheat.

  • His affair with a flight attendant makes him feel young and happy again but threatens to ruin his life.

  • Why does Allen choose eye doctor for Judah’s profession?

  • Because it is ironic that a morally blind man helps others to see better!

  • Should Allen have cast someone else? What if this role were played by a more attractive actor? Brad Pitt, for example? Would we be more willing to root for him?


Woody allen as cliff

Woody Allen as Cliff

  • Woody Allen’s choice to make a commercial film to fund a pet project mirrors Hollywood reality.

  • Though he is married, he falls in love with Mia Farrow, pursues her, and sabotages her relationships with others – all to compensate for his loveless marriage.

  • Cliff is like most of Allen’s portrayals: a romantic misfit who is perpetually perplexed by women's propensity for choosing better-looking, wealthier, more sensible men. His fear of rejection further undermines his plays for romantic love.


Mia farrow as halley reed

Mia Farrow as Halley Reed

  • Bright, educated, witty, PBS producer.

  • Though she is divorced and is being pursued by Alan Alda’s character, Lester, Cliff works to keep them apart. Why?

  • She must choose between a struggling intellectual soul-mate and a powerful Hollywood mogul.

  • Who would you choose? Why?


The rabbi the professor and the aunt

The Rabbi, the Professor, and the Aunt

  • What is the Rabbi’s purpose in the film?

  • He represents one view of morality—the Godly moral compass.

  • Why is the Rabbi blind?

  • Allen’s point—and one that recurs in his pictures—is that God has abandoned us. We are doomed to short desperate lives filled with violence, selfishness and moral confusion.

  • What does the professor represent?

  • He illustrates moral relativism—that the best we can do is determine for ourselves what is right and wrong.

  • What does Judah’s Aunt May represent?

  • She represents the third option: nihilism or a “might makes right” view of morality.

  • The picture is an illustration of how we are all faced with these options every day in every decision we make – particularly the big ones.


Adultery

Adultery

  • The characters played by Martin Landau and Angelica Huston have been locked in a two-year, “fatal attraction,” adulterous relationship.

  • Cliff would like to have an affair with Halley.

  • Is adultery wrong?

  • If so, how do we know it’s wrong? Because God tells us it’s wrong? Because we couldn’t live with ourselves if we did it? Why do so many married persons have affairs?


Murder

Murder

  • As with The Godfather, we confront the issue of lawlessness—specifically murder—as practiced by the mafia.

  • The film asks the question: “Could I live with the knowledge that I had murdered someone. Could I live a normal life with a career, friends, and family?”

  • The reason nearly all of us do not commit murder is because we answer “no” to this question. If we answered “yes,” society would break down.

  • Did George Eastman answer “no” to the question once he got out on the lake with Alice Tripp in A Place in the Sun?

  • Why do we choose not to murder? Because God forbids it?


Auterism

Auterism

  • The point of Allen’s films is not to focus on what happens to the characters but instead on how and what decisions they reach.

  • Allen starkly blends humor and tragedy in dealing with the subjects of murder, romance, suicide, and pathos.

  • Virtue (true love, honest work) is punished and evil (murder, vanity, fame, and fortune) is rewarded.

  • The film is about whether justice, goodness, and happiness are possible in a godless (liberal, secular, postmodern) world. Why doesn’t nihilism rein – or does it? How do we create meaning from the nothingness of life?


Does art imitate life or life imitate art

Does Art Imitate Life or Life Imitate Art?

  • Most critics argue that Allen either consciously or subconsciously alludes to his current real-life troubles in whatever film he is making at the time.

  • Crimes And Misdemeanors was made three years before the Allen-Farrow split.

  • Are there signs in the film that reflect reality and presage the break-up?

  • Farrow (who had married 50-year old Frank Sinatra when she was 21) later accused Allen of abusing their adopted daughter Dyan and Allen admitted a romantic liaison with her adopted daughter—Soon-Yi Previn—from a previous relationship with pianist Andre Previn. Farrow claimed that she discovered the affair by finding nude photographs of Soon-Yi taken by Allen in his apartment. Soon-Yi was 22 at the time of the revelations. She and Allen married in 1997 and have two adopted daughters.

  • The film:

  • Cliff is in a loveless marriage.

  • He falls in love with an unobtainable woman.

  • He is obsessed with hanging around his 14-year-old niece and they have adult conversations and do adult activities such as watching 1940s films.

  • Coincidence?


Conclusion wither woody

Conclusion: Wither Woody?

  • Why are Allen’s films largely ignored by the American movie-going public?

  • For the most part, they do not have the traditional Hollywood “happy ending.” Instead, characters are resolved to the consequences of their lives.

  • They are character, dialogue-driven stories of flawed individuals. There are no superheroes or super-effects.

  • Therefore, while Allen’s films can teach us a great deal about relationships and the human condition, no one is watching…


Sources

Sources

  • Ebert, Roger, “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” rogerebert.com, October 13, 1989.

  • Grant, Judith, “Morality and Liberal Legal Culture,” in Jonn Denvir, ed., Legal Reelism (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1996).

  • Hicks, Chris, “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” Deseret Morning News, November 3, 1989.

  • Kempley, Rita, “’Crimes and Misdemeanors,’” Washington Post, October 13, 1989.


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