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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  • French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  • German: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, German, Italian
  Extras
  • 3 Theatrical trailer

Manhattan Murder Mystery

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 103 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Like many of Woody Allen’s films, there is a unique 'New York feel' on offer here, but it could have been set anywhere. Allen and Diane Keaton are reunited as Larry and Carol Lipton, a bored middle-aged couple who seem to be together almost for the sake of it. Things liven up when Carol first suspects, and is soon convinced, that their elderly neighbour has murdered his wife.

Their neighbours, Lilian and Paul House, seemed like just another New York couple. Arriving home to find paramedics in their neighbours’ apartment, the Liptons learn that Lilian House has suffered a heart attack and died. After some strange goings on and things that go bump in the night, Carol asks how Paul is doing after his wife’s death, but he seems strangely distanced form the event, and far from upset. He even has a new lady on his arm. Carol, despite Larry’s repeated predictions that this will all lead to trouble, cannot seem to let go of the notion that their neighbour is a murderer. She bakes him some dessert and whilst making coffee in his apartment, discovers an urn of ashes in a cupboard, but Paul claims his wife was buried in their joint cemetary plot. Hmm?

She chooses to confide in her longtime friends and recent single, Ted (Alan Alda), but Larry’s petty jealousies seem to complicate their relationships even more. Ted encourages Carol to play private investigator. Sneaking into his apartment while he is out leads to some tense moments, but Carol does overhear his one-sided phone conversation and his confessions of love.

It is just after lunch in downtown Manhattan that things really get confusing, when Carol sees the ‘dead’ Lilian on a cross-town bus looking very much alive. Events take more twists and as a viewer you are left wondering right until the end just whom is responsible for what. This is not to say it is a convoluted and confusing plot because it isn’t, it’s just that every time you think you are onto what’s happening, you get thrown another curve ball. It’s all good fun, but not as innocent as it all seems.

If you have enjoyed any Woody Allen films in the past, then this will appeal too. Allen is his typically neurotic self, Keaton is solid as always (filling in for Mia Farrow after Allen’s now legendary ‘indiscretion’), and the supporting cast is superbly led by Alan Alda and Anjelica Huston, who plays the appropriately named Marcia Fox, an overtly sexual writer.

The film is well paced and offers genuine mystery, some laughs and a few thrills. It is not an obvious mystery, and the very astute may work out what is going on before all is finally revealed, but most will be left guessing until the end.

  Video
Contract

Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and 16:9 enhanced, Manhattan Murder Mystery looks quite solid with a reasonably sharp image. The film is only ten years old so that should be expected. Colours are earthy but solid and present no real issues. Black levels are likewise fine, and shadow detail is generally good. There are a few darkish moments, but these mostly appear deliberate.

There are no compression issues of any note, and film artefacts are at a minimum, being a few small white specks, leaving a clean and virtually mark-free print. There is no layer change.

  Audio
Contract

While a surround mix might have been nice, all we are treated to is a serviceable Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track that rarely impresses. Admittedly, this film is not an action-packed high impact affair, but there are numerous scenes that would have worked nicely in 5.1, or stereo at a minimum. However, the basics here are all good with no problems relating to synchronisation or clarity, although the volume controls could do with a nudge. The sound range is acceptable, but there is a somewhat noticeable lack of real depth and fidelity overall. This is not a big deal, as all dialogue and sound effects can be heard.

There are no problems with hiss or dropouts, clicks or pops, and unless you want every DVD to be a 10/10, then this audio will suffice - just.

  Extras
Contract

This star-studded DVD is packed with extras - not! Knock yourself out on the three trailers for Manhattan Murder Mystery, Groundhog Day, and I Spy. The first two look straight from VHS and are in full frame. The last is in widescreen, but the film itself hardly looks like much of a winner.

  Overall  
Contract

Woody Allen makes a distinctive type of film and Manahattan Murder Mystery contains many of the things that make them so distinctive. The setting, the corny one-liners, Allen’s character as always - neurotic bordering on manic - and there are enough familiar faces in the supporting cast to maintain a genuine air of quality. This may not be his very best work, but it is still very enjoyable.


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      And I quote...
    "One of Woody Allen’s better efforts, with a great cast and some excellent twists and turns…"
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Akai
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
          Wellings
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wellings
    • Surrounds:
          Wellings
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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