Martin Landau received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Judah Rosenthal in Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Martin Landau is the man of the serious half of the film, and there really is nothing supporting about his performance. He is the absolute lead of his half of the film, which has just as much probably more importance than Woody Allen's personal section of the film. In Landau section Judah has already performed the adultery, rather than just attempting it. He is forced to face his crime against his family because the woman (Angelica Huston) he had the affair with is emotionally unstable and plains to tell Judah's wife everything.
Martin Landau performance is a very intriguing one as he portrays Judah's entire moral dilemma as he examines his entire moral philosophy, and some of his religious ideas he still holds in some way deep inside himself. His moral dilemma really does not come from the fact of the affair, but it mostly comes from the idea of doing away with his mistress in order to be able never to have to directly face his crimes in any sort of way.
Landau whole performance is a very subtle, and very powerful performance. What is so strong about his performance is the fact that he never has a false note in the entirety whether it is during Judah's moments of morality, or amorality Landau always give an entirely truthful performance through every aspect of his story Landau always presents the story of a really man in this situation this is what makes Judah's story all the more haunting.
In the short flashback moments of the affair Landau certianly shows a happy Judah, certianly not in the least minding his degree of amorality by partaking in his affair. At the end of the affair it is offset by Judah ending it before being face with responsibility of the crime. In these scenes again Landau is yet to show true guilt over his actions instead he merely shows that Judah's anxiety and anger over the idea of having to lose anything he has gained in life due to his faults.
It is only when he is about to face his decision to deal with the situation, and after that decision where he truly examines the morality of himself. Landau is absolutely brilliant in all of these scenes showing the eternal struggle within Judah. Landau combines a coldness, particularly when he decides to take action that has an incredibly chilling quality due to Landau showing the Judah's agreement with lack of immorality.
To counterpoint that after his decision he comes face to face with a tremendous guilt he feels over his crime finally coming face to face with his ideas of morality. This is something amazing about Landau entire scenes of guilt not only because of his incredible transition to finally feeling the fully, but also because of the depth of the soul Landau manages to bring out in these scenes particularly in his scene where he see his old family having dinner, and asks them about his dilemma. Landau face, and reaction in this scene is simply perfect.
In the end though Judah comes to grips with himself and his morality to determine that in fact he can live with himself despite the crimes that he has done. There is a dark quality to his performance here because Landau shows that Judah has a great comfort in himself. Landau though I do no think leaves it a closed case entirely, although he almost does. Landau carefully does such a little ambiguity in the end with Judah, an ambiguity that suggests that maybe his guilt still resides, but no longer as it was. Landau entire performance is a brilliant portrait of this man that is both intriguing, as well as haunting.