”I think it's… it’s a pretty fair assumption that if you're dead, you don't suddenly turn up in the New York City Transit System.”
Release Date: August 18, 1993
Runtime: 104 minutes
MPAA Rating: 'R'
“You are police? Is there any trouble?”
“No, no, no.. I’m-I'm a detective. They lowered the height requirement.”
Hotel Clerk and Woody Allen, respectively
Woody Allen returns to his roots in Manhattan Murder Mystery, a very amusing mystery-comedy. Riddled with Woody’s hilariously classic style of neurotic one-liners, the story revolves around a middle-aged couple, Larry (Allen) and Carol Lipton (Diane Keaton, a Woody Allen film mainstay), who suddenly find themselves wrapped up in a bizarre murder mystery.
“You know, whoever did it was probably still in the room while we were there. Probably hiding in the closet.”
“Be sure and tell me that just before I go to sleep tonight… That’ll be good for me.”
Diane Keaton and Woody Allen
Here’s the story: upon returning from a Hockey game (“With your eyesight, Larry, I’m surprised you can see the puck,”) Larry and Carol meet their neighbors, who live in the apartment next door -- “dull aging couple” Mr. and Mrs. House (played by Jerry Adler and Lynn Cohen). They spend an evening in their apartment, chatting and getting to know eachother. The next day, Mrs. House dies of an alleged heart attack, and Carol picks up clues, investigates, and becomes convinced that Mr. House was involved in murdering his wife.
“We could be living next door to a murderer, honey…”
“New York is a melting pot… I’m used to it.”
Diane Keaton and Woody Allen
Meanwhile, Larry remains skeptical of Carol’s suspicions, so Carol turns to Alan Alda’s character, the recently divorced Ted, to help her with her investigation. With Ted in the picture, Larry becomes overwhelmingly jealous and agrees to join her in solving the mystery in order to keep his marriage from falling apart. Soon, both of them are engaged and involved in the mystery, and are convinced that there is foul play going on. Angelica Huston is Marcia Fox, an aspiring author who takes an interest in Larry (making Carol jealous as well), and offers her dramatic views on the scenario.
What’s really cool about the movie is, Allen had it filmed in a way that makes it seem like you’re right there with the characters, a perfectly suitable technique for a mystery movie. The camera appeared to be a handheld, panning and moving around with the characters, and during the conversations at restaurants, the camera would circle around the table as the discussion heated up, and would focus on the character when they talked. With many of the scenes taking place outside on New York streets, Allen brings out the class and beauty of early autumn Manhattan.
“This would be a really great way to kill someone. You clog their arteries with whipped cream… chocolate mousse, butter… they’d go like that.”
“I’d like to French pastry myself to death right now. I really would.”
Alan Alda and Joy Behar
The soundtrack blends nicely with the mood: jazz hits from the 1930s, opening with Bobby Short's I Happen to Like New York. The movie also features several homages to Double Indemnity, including a scene towards the end that mirrors* that classic film's conclusion. If you're a fan of Woody Allen's ealier hits with Diane Keaton -- Play it Again, Sam, Annie Hall, Sleeper -- or are unfamiliar with his work and are interested in checking it out, then add this to your list of movies to rent.
“I figured out how he killed her and made it look like a coronary… He gagged her, and tied her to the treadmill. Then, he turned the exercise program up to Olympic levels.”
*Yes, this is an inside pun. See the movie to unlock its secret punniness.