Crimes And Misdemeanors is the 18th film written and directed by Woody Allen, first released in 1989.
It’s two stories in one. The first is the trials of Judah, an eye doctor whose mistress is threatening to destroy his life, and the terrible choices he makes. The second is the trials of Cliff, whose search for meaning and meaningfulness is scuppered at every turn. Together their stories question justice and faith, and the existence of god itself.
This is one of Allen’s most acclaimed dramas, and one of his most acclaimed films in general. It was also made in a period where Allen’s complete creative control was at its most prevalent. He reshot around a third of the film, and he is still unhappy about the film to this day.
Welcome to the Woody Allen Pages podcast, from me, the creator of the Woody Allen Pages website. This week, episode one, we look at 1989’s Crimes And Misdemeanors. We’ll look at how this film came to be. What I loved and didn’t love. And then some fun trivia about the film. Of course, spoilers are everywhere.
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Wonderful first episode, this is my fav Woody film actually! I’m so looking forward to the next episode, thank you for doing these! Lots of interesting facts and opinions!
Great episode. Of all the films that the maestro has completed to date, I’d put Crimes is easily in the Top Five. The last scene in the film is epic. From the moment Cliff and Judah have the discussion on the piano bench through Dr Levy’s little monologue at the end is magical stuff from Woody. “Mysteriously, the crisis has lifted . . . and as the months pass, he finds he’s not punished, in fact he prospers.” That’s gold folks, pure Woody writing gold. Additionally, I love Woody’s casting of Joanna Gleason in this picture. She was really great in Boogie Nights!!!
Hi William. Just listened to your first podcast proper. I really enjoyed spending over half an hour in your company. Top stuff. Story line(s), actors, music, photography, re-writes, re-shoots, re-casts, awards – you’ve covered it all. Crimes, like my fellow fans above, is one of my favourite Woody films too. I remember reading about it in Eric Lax’s excellent Start to Finish. I couldn’t help but notice that you also reference the working title Brothers a number of times. Yes, indeed, it would’ve made for a very different film. My head tells me it probably would’ve been a better film along the lines of Match Point (which I also highly rate). My heart, though, just absolutely loves the Lester character and what a loss that would’ve been. This might say more about me than I’d care to like but I find him to be more of an asshole than Judah. I don’t know, that’s just how I feel. Well done.
PS Just for the record, murder is murder. Please don’t go thinking you’re all sharing a podcast chat with a complete lunatic. Lester’s high opinions of himself and Judah’s (and Jack’s) murderous ways are two completely different things. I was more commenting on the fact that most of us are (I hope anyway) more familiar with a Lester than a Judah and would therefore be more inclined to meet the former than the latter. Having said that, being in the presence of an asshole is always so much easier when it’s on a screen or a page as opposed to sharing their company. Phew! Right, not sure about you but I’m now so looking forward to moving from Manhattan’s interiors to Côte d’Azur’s exteriors… (Oh, and while I’m here, I’ve just discovered the podcast’s transcript. Fantastic stuff!).