Manhattan Murder Mystery wasn’t a top-notch Woody. Yet, despite this light-hearted fare being a lesser work vis-à-vis his masterpieces, it still was an immensely enjoyable, witty and funny film where he made smart use of an overtly cinematic murder mystery tale for his distinctive musings on urban relationships, neuroses, dysfunctions and foibles. That he could make such an effortlessly funny movie while in a huge tabloid scandal involving Mia Farrow speaks volumes about the natural abilities of this prolific filmmaker and humorist. The marriage of middle-aged New York couple Larry (Allen) and Carol (Diane Keaton, last-minute replacement for Farrow) is slowly moving into a state of stasis and ennui as she finds him boring. They are jerked out of their routines when she starts believing that their friendly elderly neighbour (Jerry Adler) has killed his wife. Larry, who is anything but an adventurous person, is convinced that his wife is hunting for straws in the air, and to further compound his sense of frustrations and insecurity, the still-gorgeous Carol gets a willing partner in her investigations in the form of their flirtatious and dashing long-time friend (Alan Alda). The tightly-plotted tale of twists and turns was balanced by the typically whimsical tone, rambling conversations and quirky character dynamics. There were enough self-deprecatory humour, intelligent one-liners, terrific chemistry between the leads, and references to classic noirs – shots of Double Indemnity highlighting the motif, and the iconic finale of The Lady from Shanghai complementing the climax – to help one ignore the plot holes, and kept it at an arm’s length from his more serious ventures involving crime and morality like Crimes and Misdemeanors, Match Point, etc.
Director: Woody Allen
Genre: Comedy/Mystery/Urban Comedy/Marriage Comedy