Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)

In Woody Allen's hilarious comedy - his ode to The Thin Man (1934) and Rear Window (1954), again reuniting Allen with frequent star Diane Keaton:

  • the middle-aged couple of Larry (Woody Allen) and Carol Lipton (Diane Keaton) - a married New York couple, whose lives were energized by the 'mystery' death of their neighbor Lillian House (Lynn Cohen), the wife of Mr. Paul House (Jerry Adler); Carol had been stalking Paul in a movie theater and claimed to have discovered a motive - that he might be running off with a young pretty actress named Helen Moss (Melanie Norris): ("He was with this young model type, and they were talking about money....So, that's the motive")
  • in a late-night scene at 1 am, Larry commanded his hyperactive wife, who wanted to investigate and enter their neighbor's apartment by using a key, to go back to bed: ("I'm telling you, I'm your husband. I command you to sleep!. Sleep! I command it!...I command it! Sleep!"); she counter-argued, with obsessive, 'Nancy Drew'-like suspicions that the non-mourning, cheerful husband Mr. House had murdered his wife Lillian: ("Larry, all I can tell you is, if this had been a few years ago, you would have been doing the same thing. 'Cause if you recall, we solved a mystery. Yep, we solved a mystery once. Remember? It was the - it was the noises in the attic mystery")
  • the scene of their sneaky visit into Paul's apartment, where Larry was frantic with worry, while Carol looked for clues and said: ("I think something's very strange, here.... I think the whole thing is really sinister")
  • the many funny, acerbic one-liners by Larry: ("I've reevaluated our lives! I got a 10, you got a 6!", "There's nothing wrong with you that a little Prozac and a polo mallet can't cure!", and "Jesus, save a little craziness for menopause!")
  • the funny moments when a hotel elevator stalled and Larry suddenly became very panicked: ("I'm-I'm-I'm a-a world-renowned claustrophobic...I don't like this, I don't, I don't...It's easy for you to say, but I can't breath, I'm phobic...I'm not panicking, I'm not panicking, I'm...I'm just gonna say the rosary, now...Oh, I don't know, I don't like this...I'm running over a field, I see open meadows. I see a stallion. I'm a stallion...There's a cool breeze passing over me. I see grass. I see dirt...Let's go, my life is passing in front of my eyes. The worst part of it is, I'm driving a used car")
  • and then, their shocking discovery of a corpse - Lillian's body - inside an emergency exit panel above them, with her arm dangling down: ("Oh, my God. It's her....Oh, Jesus! Claustrophobia AND a dead body - this is a neurotic's jackpot!")
  • the character of sultry writer Marcia Fox (Anjelica Huston) who helped Larry, Carol and single playwright friend Ted (Alan Alda) devise a trap to ensnare Mr. House
  • the clever recreation of the climax of The Lady From Shanghai (1948) in the back of an old revival theatre (the characters reenacted the mirror scene - life imitating art - as it played behind them on the screen); when House's spiteful paramour-accomplice and loyal assistant Mrs. Gladys Dalton (Marge Redmond) appeared, confronted him with a gun, and shot him for being brushed aside: ("Hello Paul. Didn't you expect me?...You made a lot of promises to me, over the years. And then, you decided to dump me for that young model...It's late for excuses...I'm aiming at you, lover. Of course, killing you is killing myself...But you know, I'm pretty tired of both of us")
Re-Enactment of Mirror Scene - Shooting of Mr. House by Mrs. Dalton
  • the concluding scene of Marcia's recap of the entire mystery to Ted as they left police headquarters - the first dead body belonged to Lillian's rich sister, who bore a passing resemblance to Lillian but was not her twin - she suffered a heart attack while visiting them and the Houses claimed that she was Lillian - but then House double-crossed and killed Lillian, so he could run off with the young model-actress Helen: ("Oh, listen. I'll give it to you one more time. Mrs. House had a sister who moved to England many years ago. She changed her name when she married. Her husband died. She moved back to New York recently, a very, very rich widow, but a recluse. Mr. and Mrs. House knew they weren't in her will. They have her over to dinner, she accidentally keels over. I guessed right there. She has a reasonable resemblance to her sister, so they fake it. Pretend Lillian House died. They cremate the sister. Lillian checks into a fleabag joint and for several weeks she pretends to be her sister, closing her accounts, liquidating her assets, accumulating big money. What she didn't realize was that her husband was two-timing her with Helen Moss, this pretty model. So, he decides not to cut her in and go off to, I don't know --- with his mistress and, uh, keep all the dough. So, he kills Lillian. He cremates her, or pours molten steel all over her or something, and, uh, that's when we came along and tripped him up...Mrs. Dalton? She covered for him. She loved him. Not that she dreamed he was a murderer")
  • the final exchange after the mystery was solved, when Larry and Carol were walking down a NY street discussing where they would go for dinner and talking about some of their mutual jealousies, when Carol happened to mention their friend Ted: (Larry: "You've got to be kiddin'. Take away his-his-his elevator shoes, and his fake sun tan and his capped teeth and what do you have?" Carol: "You!" Larry: "Right! I like that...")

Larry and Carol Lipton

Larry's Claustrophobia in Elevator

Discovery of Dead Body

Ending: Larry and Carol on NY Street


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