Crimes and Misdemeanors

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Crimes and Misdemeanors is a 1989 film about an opthamologist's mistress who threatens to reveal their affair to his wife, while a married documentary filmmaker is infatuated by another woman.

Written and directed by Woody Allen.

Judah Rosenthal[edit]

  • God is a luxury I can't afford.
  • One sin leads to a deeper sin.
  • I remember my father telling me, "The eyes of God are on us always." The eyes of God. What a phrase to a young boy. What were God's eyes like? Unimaginably penetrating, intense eyes, I assumed. And I wonder if it was just a coincidence that I made my specialty ophthalmology.
  • Jack lives in the real world. You live in the kingdom of heaven. I'd managed to keep free of that real world, but suddenly it's found me.

Clifford Stern[edit]

  • When he tells you he wants to exchange ideas, what he really wants is to exchange fluids.
  • Show business is, is dog-eat-dog. It's worse than dog-eat-dog. It's dog-doesn't-return-other-dog's-phone-calls. You know, it's just terrible. Which reminds me, I should really check my service. I don't know why, I haven't had a message in seven years! You know, I call up and I hear the girls on the other end giggling.
  • While we're waiting for a cab I'll give you your lesson for today. Don't listen to what your teachers tell ya, you know. Don't pay attention. Just, just see what they look like and that's how you'll know what life is really gonna be like.
  • I think I see a cab. If we run quickly we can kick the crutch from that old lady and get it.
  • I don't know from suicide. Where I grew up in Brooklyn, nobody committed suicide - they were too unhappy.
  • What's the guy so upset about? You'd think nobody was ever compared to Mussolini before.
  • The last time I was inside a woman was when I visited the Statue of Liberty.
  • A strange man defecated on my sister.
  • Honey, you're the one who stopped sleeping with me, okay? It'll be a year come April 20th. I remember the date exactly, because it was Hitler's birthday.
  • [after Levy's suicide] I got 600,000 feet of film on this guy. And he's telling how great life is and everything and now, you know. What am I gonna do? I'll cut it up and make it into guitar picks.

Wendy Stern[edit]

  • We really do have to go. I have to get up at dawn and teach Emily Dickinson to a bunch of upper-middle class crack addicts.

Professor Louis Levy[edit]

  • We're all faced throughout our lives with agonizing decisions, moral choices. Some are on a grand scale, most of these choices are on lesser points. But we define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are, in fact, the sum total of our choices. Events unfold so unpredictably, so unfairly, Human happiness does not seem to be included in the design of creation. It is only we, with our capacity to love that give meaning to the indifferent universe. And yet, most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying and even find joy from simple things, like their family, their work, and from the hope that future generations might understand more.
  • When we fall in love, we are seeking to re-find all or some of the people to whom you were attached as children. On the other hand, we ask our beloved to correct all the wrongs that these early parents or siblings inflicted on us. So, love contains in it the contradiction, the attempts to return to the past and the attempt to undo the past.
  • I've gone out the window.
  • But we must always remember that when we are born we need a great deal of love in order to persuade us to stay in life. Once we get that love it usually lasts us. But the universe is a pretty cold place. It is we who invest it with our feelings. And under certain conditions, we feel the thing isn’t worth it any more.


  • If it bends it's funny. If it breaks, it's not funny.
  • Idea for a farce. A poor...loser does a documentary of a great man and in the process learns some deep values.
  • I'll be honest. You're not my first choice.
  • Comedy is tragedy plus time.


Lester: If you play your cards right, you could have my body.
Halley: Wouldn't you rather leave it to science?

Halley: [about Lester] After all, he is an American phenomenon.
Clifford: Yeah, but so is acid rain.

Lester: I told you I'm putty in your hands.
Halley: What am I gonna do with a handful of putty?

Ben: What choice do you have if the woman is going to tell her? You have to confess the wrong and hope for understanding. Maybe Miriam was responsible in some ways too. You have to discuss it and hope for the best. And maybe you and Miriam can never go back to the old life; but, maybe there's a new one with maturity and understanding; maybe - maybe even a richer one.
Judah: You know, it's funny, for our entire adult lives, you and I have been having this same conversation in one form or another.
Ben: Yes, I know. Its a fundamental difference in the way we view the world. You see it as harsh and empty of values and pitiless. And I couldn't go on living if I didn't feel it, with all my heart, a moral structure with real meaning and - forgiveness. And some kind of higher power; otherwise, their's no basis to know how to live.

Halley: [on the philosopher Lewis Levy] He was very eloquent on the subject of love, didn't you think?
Clifford: I wish I had met him before I got married. It would've saved me a gall bladder operation.

Clifford: You must have had a pretty terrible marriage if you don't want to be asked out on any dates.
Halley: Well, no, I mean, he was great. You know, very brilliant. He's an architect. Real handsome and everything. But, if you're going to have an affair, not with my best friend, in my four poster bed, and they definitely didn't have to finish all my pistachio nuts.

Halley: [about Lester]: He wants to produce something of mine.
Clifford: Yeah. Your first child.
Ben: You fool around with her for your pleasure; then, when you think its enough, you want to sweep her under the rug.
Judah: There's no other solution, but Jack's men. I push one button and I can sleep again.
Ben: Could you sleep with that? Is that who you really are?

Sol Rosenthal: Whether it's the Old Testament or Shakespeare, murder will out!
Judah Rosenthal: Who said anything about murder?
Sol Rosenthal: You did.

Clifford Stern: I actually wrote you a love letter.
Halley Reed: I didn't get it.
Clifford Stern: It's probably just as well. I plagiarized most of it from James Joyce. You probably wondered why all the references to Dublin.

[Judah is telling Clifford about the murder, disguising it as an idea for a screenplay.]
Judah Rosenthal: And after the awful deed is done, he finds that he's plagued by deep-rooted guilt. Little sparks of his religious background, which he'd rejected, are suddenly stirred up. He hears his father's voice. He imagines that God is watching his every move. Suddenly, it's not an empty universe at all, but a just and moral one, and he's violated it. Now, he's panic-stricken. He's on the verge of a mental collapse, an inch away from confessing the whole thing to the police. And then one morning, he awakens. The sun is shining, his family is around him and mysteriously, the crisis has lifted. He takes his family on a vacation to Europe and as the months pass, he finds he's not punished. In fact, he prospers. The killing gets attributed to another person — a drifter who has a number of other murders to his credit, so I mean, what the hell? One more doesn't even matter. Now he's scott-free. His life is completely back to normal. Back to his protected world of wealth and privilege.
Clifford Sten: Yes, but can he ever really go back?
Judah Rosenthal: People carry sins around. Oh, maybe once in awhile he has a bad moment, but it passes. With time, it all fades.
Clifford Stern: Yeah, but now his worst beliefs are realized.
Judah Rosenthal: Well, I said it was a chilling story, didn't I?
Clifford Stern: I don't know. I think it would be tough for someone to live with that. Very few guys could live with something like that on their conscience.
Judah Rosenthal: People carry awful deeds around. What do you expect him to do, turn himself in? This is reality. In reality, we rationalize, we deny, or we couldn't go on living.
Clifford Stern: Here's what I would do: I would have him turn himself in. Then your story assumes tragic proportions. I mean, in the absence of a God, or something, he's forced to assume that responsibility himself. Then you have tragedy.
Judah Rosenthal: But that's fiction, that's movies. You see too many movies. I'm talking about reality. I mean, if you want a happy ending, you should see a Hollywood movie.


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