Crimes and misdemeanors
By Michael Moriarty
The pursuit of happiness?
As Joseph Campbell might suggest:
One must pursue
What has Woody Allen, the director of Crimes and Misdemeanors, been pursuing for most of his life? His ecstasy!
I am certain of it.
Doesn't such bliss insure its opposite which is utter despair? Of course it does! That is why Mr. Allen had to write, co-produce and co-star in Crimes and Misdemeanors.
That film is a secret of his that he couldn't possibly leave the Earth without sharing. Woody Allen, despite the controversies of his life, has never not been able to make me laugh.
However, the Tragi-Comedy of Crimes and Misdemeanors?!
What did it teach me?
The horror and sadism
The Hell of The Holocaust?!
The 84 men and women recently butchered in Nice?!
The 5 cold-bloodedly murdered and 7 injured police in Dallas?!
If such nightmares are always an ever-present possibility? What is there, as is blisteringly offered in Crimes and Misdemeanors, to keep us from suicide?
The Bliss of Life!!
Such experiences and, yes, objectives are the only possible response to the diabolical eruptions that suddenly explode out of a humanity, more parts of which seem to be controlled by the Devil every day!
Twice in my lifetime! The Nazi Germany of World War II, during which I was born. And now, ISIS!!
I began this article in the morning and by the late afternoon when we came home from shopping?!
ISIS or some affiliated terrorist group, has assaulted Nice, France!!!
So far? 84 dead and still counting!
Such horrific slaughter is actually analyzed throughout the frightening, many-pilgrimed progress of Crimes and Misdemeanors?
The final scene.
Mr. Crime, played with perfection by Martin Landau, and Mr. Misdemeanor, captured by the Sad Sack face of Woody Allen himself, sit and ponder the meanings of both crime and infidelity.
Mr. Crime most eloquently describes the initial pain of his guilt to Mr. Misdemeanor and then explains quite simply how easily the pain wears off and one learns to live with one's… uh… imperfections.
In this case, murder proves to be more easily dealt with than marital infidelity.
While moments and lacerating lines of painfully brief wit entertain us throughout the film, the bitter message, delivered with the welcome sweetness of our own laughter at brilliant one liners, the film's ultimate conclusions, so disturbingly culminating in one large Truth?
Even while living, as the Bard's King Lear might say, Humanity "smells of mortality".
Stinks of it actually!
Wallows in crimes and misdemeanors.
The film's case for this fact has been built so profoundly and undeniably that one is moved to tears.
Such grief, for myself at any rate, over what we can be and frequently are? That sorrow becomes the very bliss and ecstasy that I'm talking about.
Such an experience is the penultimate reward of great art. It drowns you joyously in a bottomless ocean of agonizing Truth. In short, it is actually a miracle to hear someone tell the Truth that well.
Yes. That is something to blissfully cry over.
Happiness is not only not enough for him, it is, perhaps, Man's greatest delusion!
That is why he has been known, for the most part, as a comedian.
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.