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  • This is a nice and light Woody Allen comedy about a death in a building that could be a murder. At least Diane Keaton's character thinks so, without really having a reason for that. She plays Carol Lipton, married to Larry Lipton (Woody Allen). They have just met their neighbors Paul (Jerry Adler) and Lillian House (Lynn Cohen) when Lillian dies. Because Paul is not that sad and is too ready to move on Carol becomes suspicious. When she is realizing certain strange events that has occurred her suspicion grows. Larry thinks it is pretty stupid but when a friend named Ted (Alan Alda) does believe her and helps her with the investigation he gets jealous and offers to help after all.

    Whether a real murder has committed is not the point, I guess. Allen gives us standard movie situations, ridicules them a little, and betters them then. There is a scene where Allen and Keaton go from an elevator into a basement when the lights fall out. It is completely dark, something we have seen more in thrillers, and for some reason Allen is able to make this cliché thriller scene suspenseful. There are more of these moments. Since this is an Allen film there are a lot of links to other famous movies (the script itself is a little like Hitchcock's 'Rear Window') and famous scenes, the ending in particular does a terrific job in reliving one of the most memorable scenes out there. (It has to with mirrors, I guess you know what movie I am talking about). This light Allen comedy is a terrific mystery story with brilliant touches that will be liked not only by Allen-fans, but by everyone who loves either comedy or mystery suspense.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    No one took this film seriously when it came out earlier this decade. Most people thought it a fluffy, trifle of a film. And it is certainly light-hearted compared to some of Allen's weightier fare (see Husbands and Wives, his best movie of the past decade). But having watched this film again recently I think it is a stunning achievement in comedy. Allen and Keaton have great chemistry as a couple in a humdrum marriage who stumble on to what turns out to be a murder cover-up. Watching all the people in this film try to figure out how to be detectives based on stuff they've seen in movies and read in books is hilarious, not to mention smart. The latenight dinner conversation among Allen, Keaton, Alda, and Huston is some of the best, sharpest, funniest, fastest dialogue ever written (or ad libbed). One of the best comedies of the 90s. frink-3
  • In Manhattan, Carol (Diane Keaton) and her husband Larry Lipton (Woody Allen) are coming home late night when they meet their next door neighbors Lillian (Lynn Cohen) and Paul House (Jerry Adler) in the elevator. Lillian and Paul invite their neighbors to drink coffee with them in their apartment and Lillian shows her treadmill to Carol and Paul shows his collection of stamps to Larry. While drinking coffee, the elderly couple tells that they have been married for twenty-eight years and they have a twin tomb in the cemetery. Lillian tells that she is in good shape and uses her treadmill everyday.

    On the next night, Carol and Larry go to see The Flying Dutchman in the theater and when they come back home, they learn that Lillian has died of heart attack. A couple of days later, Carol and Larry meet Paul on the street and Carol believes he is too perky for a widower that has just lost his beloved wife. When Carol accidentally finds an urn with Lillian's ashes in Paul's kitchen, she suspects that Paul has killed Lillian and comments with her friend Ted (Alan Alda). They decide to investigate her neighbor and Carol steals the keys of Paul's apartment from the super. She finds that Paul will travel to Paris and not to Caribbean as he had told to Larry and she, with a woman called Helen Moss. When Carol sees by chance Lillian alive in a bus, her curiosity increases and she decides to go further in her investigation.

    Yesterday I was setting in order and cleaning my films on the shelf, and I decided to see again the VHS "Manhattan Murder Mystery". Last time I saw this film was in the 90's and I did not recall the story in details. Woody Allen is one of my favorite directors and actor, and that is the reason why I do not dare to say that this film is one of his best films because I love practically all his filmography.

    "Manhattan Murder Mystery" has mystery, suspense and the refined and witty humor typical from Woody Allen. One of my favorite moments is when Larry compares the need to Carol returning to her shrink with a GM's recall. Another very funny moment is when the clumsy Larry plays the wrong tape during the phone conversation with Paul. If the reader wants to spend 104 minutes laughing, watch "Manhattan Murder Mystery" since this film is funny even for those that are not fans of Woody Allen. My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil):"Um Misterioso Assassinato em Manhattan" ("A Mysterious Murder in Manhattan")

    Note: On 23 October 2020, I saw this film again.
  • This is my favorite Woody Allen movie and right up there with Annie Hall and Manhattan as one of his best. Woody is at his best when he has Diane Keaton by his side and this proves it. A lot of his more recent movies haven't been good, because he is pairing himself with much younger actresses who aren't as good at this type of comedy or who aren't good at all in the case of Helen Hunt. This movie is hilarious even if you are my age (20). I think it's refreshing to go the video store and rent a comedy that isn't either a stupid spoof, or a teen comedy that plays like a rated R sitcom. This is a comedy that actually has a story, and Woody has the best lines. If you don't like Woody's style though you won't like this, but if you have seen Annie Hall or any of his other movies and liked them then you should love this one.



    Zoopansick
  • One of Woody Allen's winners from the 1990s (albeit on a minor scale) reunites him quite snugly with Diane Keaton; the two have such a lived-in rapport (with plenty of jabs but no fatigue) that the sight of them together again in a comedy is an automatic uplift. They portray the Liptons, a regular New York City couple who suspect foul play from their elderly apartment neighbor whose wife has suddenly died. Smooth, smartly assembled nuttiness with sensational support from Alan Alda as a playwright (with a crush on Keaton) and Anjelica Huston, putting off terrific comedic heat as a novelist. Wrapped up wonderfully with an homage to Orson Welles' "The Lady From Shanghai". Great fun, and perfect lightweight fare. ***1/2 from ****
  • This is the sort of movie I can watch over and over. In one word I would say it is clever. A combination of mystery, suspense, drama, and Allen's ingenious humor, Manhattan Murder Mystery is my favorite Woody Allen movie. Perhaps my favorite movie - period. The plot was fresh, and having such humor with suspense is just too good. Another quality I enjoy in this movie is how Allen avoids an "over-polished" look. For instance, the scene where a neighbor in the hallway asks Paul about a rent increase. The actor appears to stumble for the right word, but Allen let the scene go that way giving it a very natural look. The restaurant scenes also portray realism with multiple conversations at one time; a quality I love in all of his movies. This makes reviewing the movies interesting- you pick up something new each time you watch it! Woody Allen's style is definitely an intelligent humor.
  • Couple Larry and Carol Lipton (Woody Allen and Diane Keaton) get involved with a complicated murder (they think) when their next door neighbor's wife dies suddenly. Her husband seems strangely calm about it and then Carol sees the dead wife alive and well on a bus...

    This was a return to comedies after Allen had made a string of dramatic movies. Most people believed he couldn't do comedies anymore. It turns out he hadn't lost his touch and turned out one of his best movies. Seeing Keaton and Allen playing a couple was great (they always worked so well off each other) and, for once, Allen isn't the neurotic one--Keaton is! It was fun seeing him play the strongest partner in a relationship. The dialogue is hilarious--one good line after another and the murder mystery itself is very intricate and interesting. Also there are a number of great old songs playing in the background that perfectly complement the movie--especially "The Big Noise from Winnetka" (for when they drive across the bridge at night). And I loved that homage to Orson Welles "Lady from Shanghai" at the end.

    The acting is almost all great. Allen and Keaton are just wonderful--right on target and acting (and speaking) like an old married couple. Alan Alda pops up as Keaton's best friend. I never really liked him but he's OK here. Anjelica Huston (looking incredible) also pops up and gives a very strong (and very funny) supporting role. Also look for Zack Braff (from the TV series "Srubs") in his very first role as Keaton and Allen's son (!!!)

    My only complaint--the jerky, hand held camera-work. It worked fine in Allen's dramas but is just out of place here--the camera should move fluidly in a comedy. That's a small quibble though. This is WELL worth seeing.
  • Light and insubstantial – the thinnest movie Allen made since 'Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy', but still breezy and fun entertainment, and still manages to have a deeper emotional resonance about working through mid-life crises and relationships. The camera-work is a mix. The first half is annoyingly hand-held much of the time, for no particularly good reason, but the second half has some very nice lighting, and a fun 'Lady From Shanghi' homage at the climax.

    A flawed film, that one can pick at if you're in a cranky mood, but also one with wit and panache that you can enjoy if you let go of your inner film critic and just watch a master humorist simply tell a good yarn.
  • Manhattan Murder Mystery is a terrific Woody Allen film whit a wonderful mix of murder, mystery and comedy. With an all star fantastic cast; Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston and Jerry Adler.

    The reunion of Keaton and Allen together was such a delight, the chemistry between Allen and Keaton, is truly top-notch, remind me of Annie Hall.(Diane Keatons role where actually intended for Mia Farrow, but as most of you know Woody Allen was going through his off-screen scandal at the time..). Like the most of Allens films this also have a witty dialog and excellent character development. And the murder mystery is very intelligent, fun and stylish mystery-comedy. Whit Manhattan Murder Mystery Allen also reunites with writer Marshall Brickman, they wrote Annie Hall and Manhattan together, Like those films, this one contains some very funny one-liners.

    Manhattan Murder Mystery is one of Woody Allen's most wonderful movies. 9 out of 10.
  • Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)

    This movie almost defines delightful--at least for people who already like Woody Allen. (For some, Allen will always be irritating, no matter how brilliant the movie.)

    Without a shred of pretension, and without really any suspense in the usual murder mystery way, we get sucked into what is perhaps the most believable of murder mysteries ever. The reason is simple. It's told as if two very ordinary, slightly bookish, not so slightly neurotic New Yorkers stumble on a murder.

    It's the story of what we would all do if we thought our neighbor had murdered his wife. The bumbling, the doubts, the revelations, the sneaking around, the giggling.

    It helps (a lot) that we have the reuniting of Allen with Diane Keaton, and it's a nice breeze in the room to have both Alan Alda at his ordinary guy best and Angelica Huston as a true New Yorker brimming with confidence and savvy. (Huston is from California, a daughter in the famous movie family. Alda, nicely enough, is a New Yorker for real.)

    Don't expect anything deep, hilarious, or clever (three of the many intentions in Allen's movies). But it's really well made, superbly written, acted with utter believability, paced with snap, and filled with small surprises. Using the crack team Allen had in place in this period (set designer, photographer, editor, etc.), almost nothing could go wrong. As long as you like this kind of thing in the first place--a Woody Allen movie in the easy going vein.

    I loved it.
  • Leave it to Woody Allen to create interesting characters and funny dialogue. He plays Larry Lipton, a New York City book editor, whose wife Carol (Diane Keaton) becomes convinced that one of their apartment neighbors is a murderer. Half the enjoyment of this film is watching, and listening to, neurotic Larry as he reacts to his wife's excellent sleuthing adventure. She and Larry's friend Ted (Alan Alda) plot strategy on how to catch the presumed murderer, much to the chagrin of Larry.

    Some of the dialogue is amusing, like when Carol insists that Larry accompany her to the suspects' apartment for some serious nosing around. Says Larry: "I can't relax; I'm in a strange man's apartment in my T-shirt and pajamas".

    My impression is that at least some of the dialogue is semi-improvised. Whatever the dialogue method, the result is back and forth banter that sounds highly natural and convincing. When you combine this naturalistic style of talk with terrific performances by Allen, Keaton, Alda, and several other actors, the time flies by, and you're sorry when the film ends.

    The murder "mystery" element isn't really believable. But that's okay, since it's strictly ancillary to the characterizations and the humorous talk. Even so, there is indeed a puzzle that will be solved by the film's end.

    Editing and cinematography are fine. Background music features 1930's and 40's pop songs. With all the NYC street scenes, I even learned what New Yorkers mean when they refer to a "crosstown bus".

    Normally, I don't care for talky films. But the dialogue here is so clever that the cinematic experience is pleasant despite a talk heavy script. "Manhattan Murder Mystery" provides a lot of enjoyment, at the expense of a neurotic character whose life is turned into a fun house of comically scary and startling events.
  • Wonderful creative (and not only) relationship between Woody Allen and Diane Keaton has resulted in such movies as "Bananas" (1971), "Sleeper" (1973), "Love and Death" (1975), "Annie Hall" (1977), "Interiors" (1978), "Manhattan" (1979), "Radio Days" (1987), "Manhattan Murder Mystery" (1993), and has brought them both well-deserved fame and Oscars.

    Made 20 years ago, "Manhattan Murder Mystery" could be symbolical final chapter of imaginary Manhattan trilogy that would also include "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan", and it would give (among many more great things) a chance to happy ever after to Woody's and Diane's "neurotic romance". The reunion of Keaton and Allen as a married couple, Larry and Carol Lipton, trying to figure out if their new next door neighbor has committed murder of his wife is their last film together, and IMO, the funniest. Angelica Houston and Alan Alda provide additional comic relief as friends helping the couple solve the mystery.

    For me, Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) is the most delightful and enjoyable of all Allen's films and I never laugh as much and hard as when I re-watch this comedy/whodunit. I have been Allen's fan for many years and I've seen every movie he's made. Manhattan Murder Mystery may not be considered his masterpiece but it is very high on my list of all- time favorite films and one of the most beloved comedies ever. It is so clever and funny that I would take it with me to any deserted island, and if I felt lonely and down, I'd watch the scene in the hotel's lift, and the Allen's face when he delivers one of his funniest lines ever, "Claustrophobia and a dead body - this is a neurotic's jackpot!"

    I believe Manhattan Murder Mystery has more witty and hilarious dialogs and one-liners than any of Allen's films, and I enjoy every one of them. Allen claims to have "indulged" himself with this movie in which he referred openly to such classics of cinema as Double Indemnity, Rear Window, and The Lady from Shanghai. The third time collaboration of Allen and Marshall Brickman in writing the script ("Annie Hall", "Manhattan") proved to be brilliant. The result is uniquely Allenesque - breezy, joyous, and absolutely fabulous.
  • Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) Dir: Woody Allen Supposedly Miss Keaton (never married by the way) only did this film as a favor to Mr. Allen who was enduring some rather unsavory press at the time concerning his breakup with actress Mia Farrow and his ensuing love affair with Miss Farrow's adopted teenage daughter. Because Allen needed a quick hit, he asked Keaton to help him out by starring in this murder mystery comedy. Luckily for Allen (and for that matter, Keaton) the movie was a hit.

    Allen and Keaton star as husband and wife in a New York City apartment who suspect that their neighbor killed his wife! Angelica Houston and Alan Alda provide additional comic relief as friends helping the couple solve the mystery. Although the film takes its structure from Rear Window, Allen chose to end it with an homage to Orson Wells's classic mirror sequence in Lady From Shanghai. It's a very funny movie allowing Keaton and Allen to showcase their by now perfected New York City type characters.
  • As someone who has really liked or loved most of what she's seen of Woody Allen's filmography(15 left to watch as of now)- he has done some disappointments but none to me have been terrible or unwatchable, more uneven than anything else-, Manhattan Murder Mystery is up there with his best, not quite in his top 5 but most definitely in the top 10. As always with Allen it's adroitly directed and beautifully made with a noir-ish feel that adds so much to the atmosphere and mystery. The music is energetic and haunting, adding much to the comedic and mystery aspects of the story. Love the old songs too, they have a very nostalgic quality and easy to recognise. The writing is hilarious and in distinctive Allen fashion- not quite among the best screenplays of all time but some of the lines here are some of the most quotable from any Woody Allen film- while also keeping the suspense to nail-biting effect. Manhattan Murder Mystery works brilliantly both as a comedy and mystery. The comedy never takes a heavy-handed approach- in fact a lot of it is quite light- and always amuses and the mystery aspect is even better, very Hitchcockian(there was a very Rear Window influence here) and intricate and with great atmosphere and suspense. A highlight is the ending with the mirror sequence paying homage to Lady in Shanghai, it really has to be one of the best ever endings of any of Allen's films and is also very visually striking. The characters as with many Woody Allen films are purposefully neurotic but also compelling in their realism and they all serve a point to the story, no superficiality in sight. Allen gets great performances from the cast and his own performance is excellent. He has believable chemistry with Diane Keaton who gives her absolute all to her most neurotic, bat-out-of-hell character yet. Anjelica Huston is strong as usual though she has given better performances in meatier roles and while Alan Alda gives a better performance in Crimes and Misdemeanors (a textbook example of how to play a weasel of a character well, brilliantly in his case) but he doesn't disappoint either. Overall, a brilliant film and one of Allen's best, a minor work this is not. 10/10 Bethany Cox
  • Woody Allen and Diane Keaton reunite in this fine film, and both are in top form. Although it largely abandons the angst-filled themes of many of Allen's earlier films, it replaces it with a playfulness and sense of fun which elevates the film above your standard comedy or mystery. Alan Alda is notable for his fine performance, as well.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Especially in New York. Could they be involved in a coven of Satanists, a la "Rosemary's Baby", call girls a la " Kkute" or "Nuts"? How about simply just nosy pests who just never leave you alone? Married couple Woody Allen and Diane Keaton are your typical New Yorkers, taking in classic movie retrospectives, hockey games and even the opera. While home, Keaton and Alkwn briefly befriend the neighbors, and are shocked when all of a sudden, the wife dies if an apparent massive coronary. Suspicious Keaton begins to think that the husband knocked off the wife and begins to try to gather evidence to trap him.

    Typical lighthearted Allen script seems to have been rushed together in the wake of his personal scandals and comes off as forced. Woody has some funny comments on living in New York and the many types of eccentrics from all walks of life. Alan Alda is likable as the neighbor who first makes Keaton suspicious, while Angelica Huston plays an eccentric writer.

    Movies about Manhattan always utilize classic American songs and vintage location shots of the city as non- human characters. As these movies get older, the location footage just manages to get more nostalgic. Originally, Mia Farrow was to play the Keaton character, but for obvious reasons was replaced by Woody's former girlfriend and 70's co-star whom he hasn't worked with on screen in well over a decade, only using her briefly in "Radio Days". Enjoyable for what it us, this isn't one of Woody's best, being basically plot less and frequently annoying with a rather nervous energy that can be difficult to take.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I haven't seen all that many of Woody Allen's films, but of those I have, I'd have to call it a toss-up as to which was funnier, this one or "Annie Hall". Both contain superbly hilarious dialog, with virtually every line Allen speaks being brilliant. This time out though, he's not the neurotic character one would expect in one of his films, that duty falls more squarely on the shoulders of co-star Diane Keaton, the Annie of his earlier picture. When one of their elderly neighbors passes away, Carol Lipton (Keaton) is convinced foul play was responsible. Egged on by recently divorced friend Ted (Alan Alda), Carol launches her own private investigation into the circumstances of Lillian House's death, determined to fix the blame on Lillian's husband Paul (Jerry Adler). This is one of those stories where you expect a lot of misdirection on the way to proving Carol wrong, but as the story progresses, all the principals find themselves heading toward an unmistakable conclusion that the amiable Mr. House has more than his share of secrets to lay bare. When it was over, the only thing I felt bad about was the fact that actress Lynn Cohen, who portrayed Mrs. House, didn't have much to do in the story except become her husband's victim. She really deserved a longer run time before turning into a corpse.
  • rupie28 July 2000
    Woody makes a return to straight comedy here after detours into drama such as "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and "Husbands and Wives", and confused efforts such as "Alice". Here the story concerns a middle aged Manhattan couple who become involved in the death of the wife of their across-the-hall neighbor. Keaton, as Allen's wife, becomes more and more suspicious about the death and starts to play amateur detective, much to the wise-cracking Woody's dismay. (my favorite line: "There's nothing wrong with you a little Prozac and a polo mallet can't fix.").

    Despite Woody's humorous presence, the story never evolves from a murder mystery into the expected zany Allen adventure. There are no tricks or plot surprises here; rather, the story settles into an actual (and rather mundane) murder mystery, enlivened only by Woody's witty lines and a lame love interest between Keaton and Alda. There is an actual suspenseful plot culmination which seems gratingly out of place in an Allen comedy, and the close of the movie seems to stop rather than end. All in all, a subpar effort from the Woodmeister.
  • I just looked at the synopsis to get my head clear. This is, indeed, a real murder mystery with all the tricks of the trade. Hidden bodies, hidden motives, possible suspects, and plot twists. But throw in the wit of Woody Allen and his unfailing connection to the wonderful Diane Keaton, and this becomes a hoot. The cast is awesome. There are as many close calls as "Rear Window," but Allen's neurotic character, trying to remove himself from the tangled web, is priceless. Keaton is the driving force, never satisfied with explanations, needing to get to the bottom of things. A priceless gem of a movie with all the wonderful things that Woody Allen can do. Hight crime with a light touch.
  • I was fond of the fly-on-the-wall style they used to film this. Diane and Woody are masters of improvisation and at no point did I feel like this was scripted - they seemed like a real couple arguing over the suspected murder of their neighbour.

    Their arguments in this movie are funny - like really funny. Diane plays a frenzied, nosy woman who pries into the lives of other people to make up for the discontent she feels about her own.

    Woody plays a loopy older gentleman who has long since been castrated by his overbearing wife and who spirals into a panic attack every time the mildest stressor appears.

    The duo is electric because they compliment each other's delusion well. They are basically tripping over each other this entire movie, blathering barely coherent sentences whilst trying to solve a murder case that in all likelihood never happened.

    Except it did, and it turns out this pair of conspiracy theorists were onto something all along. This movie is funny, witty and full of one liners.

    The scene in which they, along with their investigative cohorts, concoct a plan to expose Paul and then the following scene where they execute it by phone is pure comic genius. It's rare that I laugh out loud for a film but I did here.

    Overall, this is a hidden gem and I consider it massively entertaining. Not to be missed.
  • This is a definite film for Woody devotees. For me there were some scenes where I couldn't stand his neurotic blabbing any more. He threw though some exceptional one-liners! The rest of the cast did a very good job and I guess they were improvising in some scenes. In general, it's a light comedy, but nothing deeper as some previous Allen films. Also it has a distinctive New York feel.
  • By comparison of some of his previous work, including Husbands and Wives and Crimes and Misdemeanors, this is a very breezy and light-hearted farce that has great fun within the genre of films such as Rear Window and The Thin Man. Woody Allen writes and directs with such ease and relaxation and actors Diane Keaton, Alan Alda, and Angelica Huston so perfectly fit the mold he creates that it is simple enough to engage instantly with these characters and follow them as they interact.

    It must be said here that the actual murder plot is somewhat predictable and not very original. Yet, that is not the point of Woody Allen's screenplay. Unlike a lot of other writers, he focuses more on the characters and their reactions to these unusual situations; these are not people who suddenly turn into great private eyes when the plot requires them to. They are real, genuine and make plenty of mistakes that make us laugh. Allen gives one of his funniest performances on film and the return of Diane Keaton proves how warm and charming they are together still after all these years. Certainly not a very serious Allen movie, but one for those who aren't used to him to check out as well as more hardcore fans. A delight is still a delight.
  • OllieZ14 February 2006
    After the mature and gritty work of "Husbands and Wives" (1992), Allen returns to what can be described as an amalgamation of his early "funny" movies and the moral ethics of his 80's work like "Crimes and Misdeameanors" (1989) and "Hannah and her Sisters" (1986).

    "Manhattan Murder Mystery" (1993) re-teams Allen and Keaton, and also uses two cast members from "Crimes and Misdeameanors", Alan Alda and Angelica Huston. This is a comedy quartet alone make the film work. Jerry Adler is also good as the neighbour who is feared to be a murderer. All the characters seem so vibrant and alive, like the city it is set in. When Allen, Keaton, Alda and Huston all meet in a café at 1 in the morning to discuss their findings, I could not help but feel attracted to the atmosphere Allen had created - the city that never sleeps.

    The plot never sleeps either, even though it is relatively simple. The fun derives from the fact that these upper-middle class New Yorkers make their life more interesting by trying to solve a murder. The story seems so warm and approachable - like Broadway Danny Rose and Radio Days.

    The story of murder is mixed with wry humour and a little light violence. We go from a scene of a body being melted, to a hilarious phone scene. It is this juxtaposition of genres that creates the films success. The actors are all immersed in their characters, but sometimes they are off guard - and thank god too. We actually get genuine laughs from the actors. We see it here (the ending) and also in "Annie Hall" (1977), when Alvy Singer and Annie Hall are in the kitchen with lobsters.

    Furthermore, the story is genuinely a good "mystery" albeit a light one. The film references are all their too - "The Lady from Shanghai" (1948)for example. To some extent Allen expects knowledge from the viewer - the film references (this film has them, "Face to Face" in "Annie Hall", the re-used but never stale jokes (sock filled with horse manure gag...Annie Hall and Radio Days) and various key figures of our times (Freud spoke of a latency period...Wagner music...lots more).

    Visually the film is good too. The first few shots of New York were surprising for me. They were not as romanticised as previous films - at least not to me. It seemed more like a Michael Mann film, with the city lights.

    So overall, I am glad Woody lightened up. This film is accessible, yet has many shades. I loved Husbands and Wives, but the Bergman-esquire relationship quarrels are not too fun to watch on your average night in.

    This film is charming, well acted and most of all a great time.
  • Woody Allen and Diane Keaton teamed up again for "Manhattan Murder Mystery" in 1993 and proved once more that they are a great match. Here they play Larry and Carol Lipton, a husband and wife with a grown son where life for Carol anyway has become humdrum. One night they meet an elderly couple, Mr. and Mrs. House (Jerry Adler and Lynn Cohen) on their floor and join them for coffee. The next day Mrs. House is dead of a heart attack, and Carol decides there's been foul play. She confides in her divorced friend Ted (Alan Alda) and before you know it, she's snooping around Mr. House's apartment, following him and doing stakeouts with Ted.

    This is a wonderful comedy that has a very improvisational feel and two people who act and talk just like a married couple - except funnier because Woody's the husband. It's amazing to watch as these creative people - Carol, an excellent cook who is thinking of starting a restaurant, Larry, an editor, Marcia (Angelica Huston) one of his writers, and Ted build up the case and decide how to catch the murderous husband. The scene where the four have dinner is one of the best as the waiters listen in on what sounds like four people plotting a murder. The other classic is Marcia conducting all of them on a phone call that relies on each pressing the button of a tape recorder when she points at them. The sight of her panicking and pointing as Larry's tape unravels and he tries to fix it is priceless.

    The acting is superb, Allen his usual hilarious neurotic self, complaining to his wife that he can't listen to too much Wagner because it gives him the urge to conquer Poland and freaking out when he's stuck in an elevator. Keaton is pretty, energetic, and a riot as Carol as she goes through her empty nest crisis, angry because Larry gave Marcia a paperback he didn't give her and jealous when Ted starts to pay attention to Marcia. "I think we have to re-evaluate our lives," she announces to her husband when she learns about the paperback. As a lonely divorcée, Alda gives a wonderful performance, and Angelica Huston as a beautiful, savvy, tough poker-playing writer is perfection.

    Woody Allen has made some heavy-duty films, comedies, and along the way, he's had a few misfires. After some of his more ponderous films, Manhattan Murder Mystery may seem like a throwaway. It isn't. It's a pure delight from beginning to end filled with mystery, suspense, humor and real people we can love.
  • Woody Allen may be one of the most naturalistic, simplistic and self-effacingly unambitious filmmakers still working, but he can fool you. Or at least he fooled me. The plot itself is very clever, the murder plot being loaded with wit and old film noir and pulp novel knowledgability and the subplots and characters being typical Woody Allen tools accompany it with a successfully funny irony. It just seems so quick, so fleeting, so light.

    Really though, there is a lot of nuance that goes into this little film. In some sense like a Billy Wilder film (perhaps the reason for the film's early Double Indemnity reference), Woody will use cinematic techniques very heavily, but absolutely none of it is called to attention. There are minute details everywhere, from an elusive black cat crossing during a seemingly inconsequential expository scene, and the intent to keep decorative flowers in the foreground throughout shots of Woody and Keaton bickering about the possibility of foul play on the part of their neighbor. When Alan Alda is talking on the phone with Keaton at a questionable hour of the night, he puts his beer on his coffee table and the camera stays on it, evoking volumes about his character in relation to Keaton, his loneliness, his emptiness. This is all done so well indeed that the effortlessness can almost be mistaken for no effort. The cinematography is characterized by an almost entirely hand-held quality, simple pointing and shooting, panning and zooming, following, the most elementary employments. But in the apparent deficiency of technique, there is enormously effective technique. He relaxes our attention to aesthetics, and so we feel that we're watching a light, breezy little geriatric romantic comedy.

    Indeed, a central theme of the movie seems to be indifference, which tends to come with age when people seem to unfussily accept that there are many things they've never gotten to do and probably never will, and in effect some, like Woody's character, seem to see life's reality as a place where nothing exciting happens so there's no reason to feel dejected because there's no point of comparison to make between yesterday and today. It gives the murder plot a refreshing sense of adventure for Keaton and Woody must awaken from his humble grind to save his marriage from her newfound sense of excitement.

    Sometimes, its the unadorned format that gives the film stylistic release. There is one moment where Keaton glances out of a restaurant window at a passing city bus. This is the kind of shot that could've looked differently in the hands of nearly every other director. It's a murder mystery after all, and one would take for granted the manipulation of light, a sleeker film stock, but no. It is as if we are looking not at a screen depiction but looking in real life at a passing bus on the street.

    The two have not lost any of their flare as a comic duo. Roughly thirty years after Sleeper, Love and Death and Annie Hall, they have a chemistry to which Woody's teamings with his other female leads cannot compare. They both have so much character even while playing the age-old staples of their acting careers; Woody plays virtually the only role of his entire acting career. There's just a wise humility to their on-screen antics that keeps them ripe.
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