|Daffy detectives. Diane Keaton and Woody Allen|
Like those earlier screwballs, Manhattan Murdery Mystery has its classic sequence: Allen, Keaton, and friends (Alan Alda and Anjelica Huston), a quartet of intrepid amateur detectives, concoct a plan to blackmail the suspected killer by playing prerecorded dialogue on cassette tape over the phone to simulate an actual conversation; naturally, the tapes get all jumbled and the "conversation" hits an abrupt snag. The last scene is kind of a dud—an anticlimactic shootout amid a maze of mirrors and projection screens (during the scene, The Lady From Shanghai is playing on the screens just in case you couldn't quite figure it all out by yourself). But all in all, the movie is a plush, snug recliner: you can settle yourself in and have a pretty good time as old movie references fly back and forth, and cobblestone streets gets soaked with rain. Things are a lot closer to the spirit of the '30s here than Peter Bogdanovich's mostly witless What's Up, Doc? (1972) or even several of the 1980s Allen comedies. In Manhattan Murdery Mystery, Woody Allen got his groove back.