Crimes and Misdemeanors
In the first of two loosely interwoven stories, rich, philanthropic ophthalmologist Judah Rosenthal (Landau), afraid his lover (Huston) will reveal all to his wife (Bloom), decides to dispose of the former with the help of a hit-man friend of his brother. In the second, more comic story, earnest, impoverished documentarist Clifford Stern (Allen), falls for the producer (Farrow) of a TV tribute he has reluctantly agreed to make about the brother-in-law he hates (Alda), a conceited, successful maker of sitcoms. Judah and Clifford meet only in the final scene: what links them throughout is guilt, stemming from an obsessive interest in matters of faith and ethics. It's an extremely ambitious film, most akin perhaps to Hannah and her Sisters, the narrative and tonal coherence of which it sadly lacks, though the assured direction and typically fine ensemble acting manage partly to conceal the seams. Dramatically, the film seldom fulfils its promise, and its pessimistic “moral”—that good and evil do not always meet with their just deserts—looks contrived and hollow. Intriguing and patchily effective, nevertheless.
Cast and crew