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Number: TWILIGHT320-BR

Starring:  Diane Keaton, Woody Allen, Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston, Jerry Adler, Lynn Cohen, Ron Rifkin, Joy Behar
Directed By:  Woody Allen

“Allen has crafted a wacky whodunit about the killing of relationships…Annie Hall replayed in a minor key by a filmmaker who sees the comedy, tragedy, and transience of love and can’t stop playing the game.”
– Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“Allen is playing here with the conventions of the genre, with the delicious danger of being caught flatfooted inside someone else's apartment with no alibi. The Keaton character has the courage and recklessness of the innocent.”
– Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Writer-actor-director Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) is a delightful comic whodunit, starring Allen and the superb Diane Keaton as a middle-aged married couple suddenly energized as she enthusiastically and he reluctantly find themselves involved in the titular killing. Alan Alda and Anjelica Huston are also drawn into the increasingly perilous proceedings, in which Manhattan – gorgeously captured by cinematographer Carlo Di Palma – is once again another of Allen’s most significant characters.

VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 1.85:1
AUDIO: English 1.0 DTS-HD MA
1993 / Color
RATED PG Mild Language, and for Elements of Violence in a Comic Murder Mystery

Special Features: Isolated Music & Effects Track / Original Theatrical Trailer

Limited Edition of 3,000 Units

Reviews and Comments: (1)
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Posted by Mark Turner on April 13, 2018 3:16 PM
I found it odd that while I remembered the name of this movie there was little about it that I recalled. Not just the story or those involved but I didn’t recall much notice of the movie even coming out. Little more than the title. After watching it I found that even stranger since this was easily one of the most accessible Woody Allen films I’d ever seen. Perhaps it was due to the fact people expected one thing from him and this didn’t fit that mold. The end result was a pleasant surprise.

Diane Keaton is Carol Lipton, a homemaker who dreams of opening her own restaurant (she took a cooking class after all). Carol is married to Larry (Allen), a book editor at Harper. Their son is about to graduate and the couple have fallen into the marriage slump, that time when a couple feels they have no focus once the common bond of child rearing is gone.

One night they have a chance encounter with their new neighbors, Paul and Lillian House (Jerry Adler and Lynn Cohen). The elderly couple invite them in for coffee to get acquainted. Paul shows off his stamp collection to Larry while Lillian shows the treadmill she uses to Carol. After leaving Carol worries that she and Larry are becoming that old couple, like the one they just met.

The next day when they get home Carol and Larry find that Lillian has died as her body is taken from the apartment. A few days later Carol suspects something is up because Paul just doesn’t seem to act like a man who has just lost his wife. When she hears his door open and Paul leaving home at 1AM soon after she begins to investigate just what happened, going so far as break into his apartment.

When Larry tells her she’s losing her mind she takes her case to their mutual friend Ted (Alan Alda). Recently divorced Larry has commented that Ted always seemed to have a thing for Carol which she denies. With each scene it becomes obvious that Larry was right. Ted and Carol begin tracking down clues she found in Paul’s apartment, discovering a potential young lover as well as a twist most won’t see coming.

Larry, in the meantime, is working with an author named Marcia Fox (Anjelica Huston) on her new book. He learns she played poker to make ends meet at one time and the two plan to meet for lunch so she can teach him how to play better. It’s a flirtation on her part but a nerve racking meeting for Larry who still loves Carol. Seeing the chance to take care of two issues at once, he sets Marcia up on a date with Ted.

As the movie progresses the real question involved is was there actually a murder here or is it all in Carol’s mind? Was she so bored with her life, so worried that she would have nothing left that she turned the innocent death of a woman from a heart attack into a murder most foul? Or has she stumbled on to what could be the perfect murder?

It may all sound serious but the movie is more of a screwball comedy than it may appear. Both Keaton and Allen tend to play on the stereotypes they’ve played before in previous Allen films. Allen is all nerves and flutters, his neurosis on full display for all around to see. Keaton is the woman who wants to seem in control but at the same time is a bit scatterbrained at times. They are a match made in Heaven even if they don’t recognize it.

The flirtations both experience while dealing with their own issues with each other are played as comical rather than salacious. Both might enjoy the fact that someone is flirting with them but at their core they love one another and have no intention of parting ways.

It is the murder, or at least the potential of their having been a murder, that brings them closer together while at the same time late in the film nearly tears them apart. The jealousies Larry has towards Ted early on are mirrored by Carols later when she thinks he’s attracted to Marcia. As with the minor issues they both have and the similarities in behavior, their jealousies show how alike they are.

What makes a stand out performance in a film is the believability of the actors in the roles they are playing. Those that are bad you find yourself knowing they are acting in each scene. Those that are good you watch and lose yourself in the performance, never realizing until the final credits that you weren’t watching a slice of life but a performance. All involved here present that second form of acting. The only one that seems to play it too far over the top is perhaps Allen. Having seen the same nebbish style character as he’s played for years in one more movie doesn’t make the character any more convincing.

It might seem like the movie is a thriller but in reality there is a lot of comedy involved here. Not just in the situations involved but the dialogue between characters as well. It’s better not to share those moments and allow the viewer to enjoy them as they come along. But there are plenty of moments to smile or laugh at here.

There is also a nice homage if you will to director Orson Welles that Allen as director of the film includes. Paul owns several movie theaters that play vintage films. At the climax of this film the movie LADY FROM SHANGHAI is on the big screen showing the sequence of Welles in the mystery house sliding down the curving slide. This is juxtaposed with the action taking place in the film there behind the screen, a stage covered with old mirrors as two adversaries confront one another. It works incredibly well.

Allen fans will want to add this to their collection. If you’re not an Allen fan give it a watch anyway, it’s a nice comedy/whodunit that will entertain you from start to finish. Twilight Time is releasing the film and as always have done a great job of offering it in pristine condition. Their usual extras of a music & effects track and the theatrical trailer are on hand as well. As with all of their other releases this is limited to just 3,000 copies so if you want your Allen collection to be complete pick one up soon.

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