Crimes and Misdemeanors

Monday, February 20
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1hr 44mins // directed by:Woody Allen // featuring:Martin Landau, Woody Allen and Bill Bernstein

In “one of the watershed films of his career” (Los Angeles Times), Woody Allen intertwines two storylines to give us a penetrating, acidly funny tale about the complexity of human choices and the moral microcosms they represent.

Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau, Oscar-nominated for the role) is a prominent ophthalmologist with a loving family, an upstanding reputation, and a secret: his mistress (Anjelica Huston) is threatening to expose his extramarital and financial misdeeds unless he marries her. Desperate, he agrees to allow his criminal brother (Jerry Orbach) to “take care” of the problem for good. Meanwhile, frustrated documentary filmmaker Cliff Stern (Woody Allen) accepts a lucrative job directing a profile of his brother-in-law, a pompous, hugely successful TV sitcom producer (a priceless Alan Alda) who represents everything Cliff despises. As he bites the bullet and tries to finish the film, the married Cliff woos an attractive production assistant (Mia Farrow).

Character. We look for it from our partners, friends, and leaders. We try to teach it to our children. The prevailing view is that character comes from hard work. It’s cultivated; it’s stable. But if character is so stable, then why do we so often see supposedly honest people deceive, and find ourselves surprised when those seemingly without a good bone in their body act with humility and generosity? Join us before the film as David DeSteno explores the science behind surprising shifts in human morality and the mental mechanisms that not only led Judah and Cliff to actions they would not have predicted, but also can lead any of us to moral transgressions or redemption in unexpected ways.

About the Speaker

David DeSteno is an associate professor of psychology at Northeastern University, where he directs the Social Emotions Lab, internationally renowned for its real-time studies of social emotions and moral behavior. He is the co-author, with Piercarlo Valdesolo, of the book Out of Character: Surprising Truths about the Liar, Cheat, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in All of Us. Dr. DeSteno is a fellow of the American Association for Psychological Science and serves as editor of the American Psychological Association’s journal, Emotion. His research regularly appears in top scientific publications and has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Boston Globe, and NPR.