The dichotomies between life and death, love and hate, innocence and guilt, genuineness and pomposity: all are fodder for the grist mill of Woody Allen in what is one of his very best films Crimes and Misdemeanors. His title is apt: the film lays out a number of scenarios which examine life’s little foibles and bigger issues with both the humor and the horror (and everything in between) which are inherent in everyday living. How each individual chooses to deal with them gives a real depth to this film which makes it one of the more probing ones in Allen’s oeuvre.
Distributed By: Twilight Time
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono)
Subtitles: English SDH
Run Time: 1 Hr. 44 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 02/11/2014
Two marriages are at the core of Crimes and Misdemeanors. For Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau) who has been carrying on a two-year affair with flight attendant Dolores Paley (Anjelica Huston) who now expects Judah to leave his wife (Claire Bloom) and begin a full life with her or else be prepared for her to spill the details of the relationship to his family, the problem is to find some way to placate Dolores without risking a domestic life he loves and an ophthalmology career that is thriving. For minimally successful documentary filmmaker Cliff Stern (Woody Allen), his crumbling marriage to wife Wendy (Joanna Gleason) would be gladly abandoned if PBS producer Halley Reed (Mia Farrow) would give him a tumble. Hired by the network to produce a documentary on the day-to-day life of a fatuously successful television producer (Alan Alda), Cliff and Halley spend a lot of time together where he falls hard for the divorced Halley who refuses to commit to him or any man for fear of being hurt again.
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
How each of these men handle his differing romantic issues forms the crux of the film, and along the way ideas about morality, guilt, and righteousness continually come into play (a seder from Judah’s past where relatives debate the cause and effect of faith versus practicality is the heart and soul of the film’s message). While the subject matter is sometimes grim and at other times playful (a murder is ordered by one; a murderously satirical slam at his rival is the other’s plan), the variance in tone isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, the witty quips and putdowns found on Cliff’s side of the story are a welcome breather from the far more serious and solemn story that Judah must experience, sequences which occasionally make us recoil in horror and yet stare at in dumb amazement as events either unfold or are played back for us (Allen’s smooth, effortless way of working in flashbacks within scenes taking place in present time is matchless and likely one of the reasons he found himself with yet another Best Director Oscar nomination for his work here).
The performances are sublimely superb across the board. Martin Landau’s desperation, exasperation, revulsion, and guilt over his predicament put him squarely in the limelight even though his screen time likely isn’t any longer than that of Woody Allen’s wisecracking director or Mia Farrow’s softly appealing producer. Alan Alda steals all his scenes as the pompous producer who thinks his every word is a pearl worth savoring (he won Best Supporting Actor from both the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics), while Jerry Orbach as Judah’s shifty brother, Anjelica Huston as the discontented mistress (whose character is so fascinating that one wishes even more of her life could have been shown), and Sam Waterston as a rabbi who’s going blind all make notable appearances in key roles.
The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is faithfully conveyed in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Apart from some stray white specks which dot the film at irregular intervals, the picture is very warm and welcoming with strong color that lends peaches and cream complexions to many of the flesh tones. Sharpness is quite fine with black levels which might not be the inkiest but are certainly beyond serious criticism. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 sound mix produces exactly the mono sound associated with all of Woody Allen’s projects at this stage of his filmmaking career but with likely better fidelity and clarity than was present in the theater or in previous releases of the film on home video. Dialogue is always strong and clear. The infrequent music cues never intrude on what people are saying but often complement the on-screen visuals in a wry way.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Isolated Score and Effects Track: presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0.
Special Features Rating: 2/5
Theatrical Trailer (1:39, SD)
MGM 90th Anniversary Trailer (2:06, HD)
Six-Page Booklet: contains a selection of color stills, poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s astute and informative take on the movie.
One of the great movies in the filmography of Woody Allen, Crimes and Misdemeanors is darker and deeper than many of his other films of the 1980s, but its wrestling with life’s profundities with both the humor and turmoil we all experience on occasion makes it ring eerily true for many viewers. There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if product is still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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