Manhattan Murder Mystery is a ’93 Woody Allen movie that started out as the screenplay for Annie Hall. The murder mystery bit got dropped and everything else became Annie Hall. Allen sidelined the original screenplay until the early ’90s when he got together again with Annie Hall co-writer Marshall Brickman to get it back on track.¬†Like Annie Hall, MMM stars Diane Keaton, who wasn’t originally meant to feature. Instead it was going to be Mia Farrow, who had just ended her relationship with Allen. Despite this, Keaton really takes to the role superbly and has to be the cheeriest thing in the movie.

The film itself is a sendup of film noir to some extent. It starts off with Keaton and Allen, a middle aged couple who seem to lead rather tranquil lives. They meet their neighbours one night only to learn the next day that the wife had died of a heart attack. Bumping into the husband the next night, Keaton’s Carol finds it suspicious that he doesn’t seem to be grieving much at all.

Cue the sneaking and snooping as Carol breaks into her neighbour’s apartment where she starts to unravel what she thinks is a murder mystery that somehow, only she can solve. Allen’s Larry on the other hand, just doesn’t want to keep getting woken up at 1am every night and is convinced his wife should give up the wild goose chase. She doesn’t of course, because she’s buoyed on by their friend Ted (Alan Alda), who also happens to be very interested in Carol. Meanwhile Larry is editing a book for the highly sexual Marcia (Angelica Huston) who’s coming on to him all too obviously.

So here, we have two plots running alongside each other. On the one hand, Carol and Ted try to solve the mystery, whilst Larry is tossing up between taking poker lessons from Marcia and putting more effort into his marriage. Ultimately, the four all get together at a point when it seems that they are the only ones who can bring the murderer to justice or perhaps they’re just delusional middle agers looking for some adventure.

I really enjoyed how sweet the movie was and how the relationships of the main characters was juxtaposed against the murder plot. Rather than the murder being the focal point, it was really the romantic side of the story that was engaging. The murder plot would make for a really shitty noir though. The way Allen and Brickman wrote the final story really works out well and there’s just so many funny scenes in this, it’s ridiculous. It’s like a noir romantic comedy.

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