MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY
cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton
This frantic comedy, released during the tumultuous tabloid scandal between Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, is co-scripted by Marshall Brickman, Allen's writing partner for MANHATTAN and ANNIE HALL, the latter originally conceived as a murder mystery before reimagined as the rom-com we know and love, and here’s a double-whammy collaboration: Diane Keaton, Woody’s co-star/love interest during the seventies, also returns to the iconic director's canon. And the results are disastrous. Allen and Keaton play a THIN MAN “Nick and Nora” like couple who meet their elderly neighbors – a seemingly normal stamp collecting coot and his talkative wife. The wife dies and the husband doesn’t seem very jaded. Keaton, desperately attempting to ignite a dull script, investigates the possible murder, which at first seems a long shot. When she's not tailing the accused through New York, or teaming up with her charming playwright friend (Alan Alda), the film consists of tedious dialog between Allen and Keaton, whose chemistry is, to quote Alvy Singer in ANNIE HALL, “A dead shark.” Allen delivers flat one-liners like a sleepy clown after the circus has let out. And when the convoluted mystery's solved there’s still twenty minutes to figure out what exactly? Although the climax, mirroring Orson Welle’s THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI using clips of the famous Fun House sequence, is a clever twist, the rest is a failed class reunion. And even worse than the chicken at Tresky's.