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.
  • I don't know from suicide. Where I grew up in Brooklyn, everybody was too unhappy to commit suicide.
  • 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.

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 say 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 Reed: Wouldn't you rather leave it to science?

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

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

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

Halley Reed: [about Lester]: He wants to produce something of mine.
Clifford Stern: Yeah. Your first child.

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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