Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)

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Released 13-Oct-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Groundhog Day, I Spy
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 103:06
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Woody Allen
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Alan Alda
Woody Allen
Anjelica Huston
Diane Keaton
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Carol Lipton (Diane Keaton) is in the middle of a mid-life crisis. Her husband, Larry (Woody Allen) is a successful publishing agent. Carol’s best friend, Ted (Alan Alda), is also in the middle of a mid-life crisis. Larry is trying to hook Ted up with one of his eccentric authors, Marcia Fox (Anjelica Huston), who happens to be interested in Larry, while Ted is interested in Carol.

    When the Liptons come home to their apartment one night they run into their neighbours, Paul and Sylvia House (Jerry Adler and Lynn Cohen) who invite them in for supper. Carol and Sylvia get along well while Ted resists getting to know Paul who is fascinated with stamp collecting and apparently lives a rather mundane life. However, a few days later the Liptons are shocked to learn that Sylvia has died of a heart attack. Unable to let it rest, Carol indulges in a personal investigation spurred on by Ted’s conspiracy theories, much to the distaste of her husband. Is Carol merely going through a neurotic mid-life crisis, or is more going on here than is readily apparent?

    Manhattan Murder Mystery is like an updated version of Hitchcock’s Rear Window with neurotic people undergoing mid-life crises instead of glossy Hollywood stars letting their imaginations get the better of them. This is not a bad thing, however, and makes for a highly enjoyable movie as the neurosis feeds the paranoia which in turn feeds the tension of the thriller aspect of the movie, and all of this plays incredibly well against the comedy factor. There are a couple of genuinely good thrills in here, and a voyeuristic angle to the whole thing that keeps you glued to the screen.

    Fans of Allen will no doubt be aware that this film was plagued behind-the-scenes with Allen’s legal battles regarding his relationship with his adopted step-daughter, resulting in the casting of Keaton. However, while this mess undoubtedly did not serve the film well at the box office it does not seem to have upset the on-screen performance, with Allen being his usual self and Keaton putting in a great effort as an aging house (or is it apartment?) wife, whose children have fled the coop, undergoing a mid-life crisis. Alan Alda, as always, is a standout here too, undergoing his own midlife crisis and allowing it to feed Carol’s paranoia.

    All up, Manhattan Murder Mystery is a great comedic thriller by one of New York’s premiere directors. It is a highly amusing and highly entertaining film and you do not have to like Allen as a person to like his artwork. If you are a fan, this is one of his best, and well worth purchasing at the bargain basement retail price it is available for. If you know nothing about Allen but like offbeat comedic films with a twist, this is well worth a look and a good introduction to this somewhat contentious filmmaker.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented in 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is the original theatrical aspect ratio.

    The picture quality here is quite good, with the image being well defined and highly detailed. There is a very faint graininess to the image which I would suggest was an intentional effect sought by the director.

    Colours are rich and well balanced, and although this film has a slight quasi-documentary feel to it, as many Allen films do, this has not come at the loss of clarity or saturation.

    Shadow detail is very good, but Allen, as part of his quasi-documentary feel, has gone for largely natural lighting effects so that sometimes there are shadowy shots that are almost black. However, this was an intentional choice by the director and the effect has been well reproduced.

    I noticed no glaring MPEG artefacts, and only the faintest of aliasing and moire effect on blinds in the background during a couple of scenes. None of these are distracting.

    There is the very occasional fleck of black dirt on the print, but you really have to be paying attention to notice them. They are few and far between.

    Subtitles are available in just about every language representing the various cultures residing in Australia. They are white with a grey border and follow the actual dialogue pretty much word for word.

    This is a single-layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are many soundtracks available here, all in Allen’s trademark 2.0 Dolby Mono. We have the original English track plus an assortment of overdubbed foreign language tracks in French, German, Italian and Spanish.

    Dialogue, while at times rapid, is generally pretty easy to understand. Because a lot of the dialogue is ‘ad libbed’ it has a more real-world natural feel, with stuttered and offhand dialogue, plus awkward pauses and the like. I noticed no audio sync problems.

    The score by Errol Garner is a very jazzy little tune and you find yourself humming it in your head after the movie is done. It is fairly well rendered here, but limited by the 2.0 Dolby Mono mix.

    Sadly, because of the Mono limitations there are no directional cues and no surround information. The audio track is simple and gets the point across, but it has an old cinematic feel to it which I will assume was the intent of the director even though some surround ambience would have been nice at times.

    There was no subwoofer use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

    All menus are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, and are static and silent.

Theatrical Trailer – “Manhattan Murder Mystery” (1:42)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Mono, this is quite a dirty print for the trailer.

Trailer – “Groundhog Day” (2:39)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo.

Trailer – “I Spy” (2:16)

    Presented in 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced, with a surprisingly kick-ass 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 release has a Pan & Scan version as well, but lacks the multitude of language options the R4 offers and also the trailers. Given that the R4 release is more multi-culturally friendly, and is not limited by the NTSC format, and I am a stickler for original aspect ratios, I am giving this to R4.

Summary

    Manhattan Murder Mystery is a great fun murder caper. They do not make them like this anymore, and more’s the pity.

    The video is nice and clean and well defined with only some faint graininess.

    Sound is limited to a mono field, but as this was the director’s intent I shall not quibble.

    There are sadly only a couple of trailers as extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

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