Originally written and posted on October 5, 2006.
I’ve been watching Woody Allen films lately and I don’t know how I missed so many of them. I mean how could I be thirty years old and never seen half of his oeuvre? I just don’t get it…I mean I used to watch his films on the USA network when I was a kid – Bananas (1971), Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask (1972), that one about the guy who takes a nap and wakes up a hundred years later and there’s no sex, and I loved them all. I used to stay up late and watch them with my dad. Then I just stopped. I mean I did watch Annie Hall (1977) of course, but so many others…I don’t know…they just slipped by. I think it was watching Deconstructing Harry (1997) that did it. That one…I don’t know it felt like an old man making dirty jokes for two hours…it sounded so good in the magazines, but…I don’t know I couldn’t take it. And then I decided I had seen all the Woody Allen I wanted to see. But now, lately, I’ve been watching the rest, and I can’t believe I ever stopped.
(So that was my written Woody Allen impression. It’s funny, maybe.)
Manhattan Murder Mystery isn’t top-notch Woody Allen, but it’s pretty stinking good. It is basically your classic murder mystery premise with Woody Allen jokes.
Woody plays Larry who is married to Diane Keaton who plays Carol. They live in Manhattan (and I know this sounds pretty much like every Woody Allen movie, but stay with me) and their kindly old neighbor dies. Carol is almost immediately suspicious because the dead woman’s husband, Paul (Jerry Adler), is too chipper too quickly after the death of his spouse.
Carol enlists her friend Ted (Alan Alda) for the conspiracy while Larry thinks they are both nuts. Carol and Ted get deeper and deeper into trying to see how Paul could have done it and eventually (of course) realize that their little game has more truth to it than they could imagine. Soon everybody is knee-deep in a real death plot and must find a way to not only catch a crook, but stay alive as well.
The plot could have easily been lifted from Agatha Christie or Nancy Drew or any other of the millions of murder mystery writers. There is nothing original in the idea, but Woody Allen pulls it off masterfully, mixing the comedy and mystery in equal parts all in breezy, completely enjoyable way.
It may not be his best work, but it sure is fun to watch.
2 thoughts on “Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)”
I hope you’ve also seen Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point, even though they bear a lot of resemblance to each other.
I have seen both of those, and many more. This was written fairly early in my Woody obsession, but for a few years I was watching everything I could by him. I’ve cooled off of him recently, for obvious reasons.