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Mrs. Harris (2006)

Annette Bening , Sir Ben Kingsley , Phyllis Nagy  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Annette Bening, Sir Ben Kingsley, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, Brett Ratner
  • Directors: Phyllis Nagy
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: May 6, 2008
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FFL2GQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,443 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mrs. Harris" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Commentary by Annette Benning, Ben Kingsley, and writer/director Phyllis Nagy
  • "Mrs. Harris For the Record: Firsthand Accounts"

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Drama) The sensationalistic murder of diet guru Dr. Herman Tarnower is explored in this decidedly low-key take on the tabloid cover story from first-time director Phyllis Nagy. As the inventor of the popular "Scarsdale Diet" Dr. Herman Tarnower (Ben Kingsley) became an overnight success during the peak of the early 1980s diet craze. Despite the popularity of the Dr. Tarnower's revolutionary "lose one pound per day" diet, the womanizing ways of the Casanova cardiologist would soon come to a brutal end at the hands of his jealous, prescription drug-addicted lover Jean Harris (Annette Bening). Driven to despair after their fourteen-year romance failed to result in marriage and enraged by Dr. Tarnower's shameless status as a ladies man, Harris confronts her former lover in one violent, final act of desperationTagline: Nothing is more dangerous than the truth.

DVD Features:
Audio Commentary

Mrs. Harris is HBO's fact-based tale about the tumultuous relationship between Jean Harris and Scarsdale Diet author Dr. Herman Tarnower, whom she is accused of shooting to death in a jealous fit of rage. But it's also a cautionary tale about what can happen when a woman is so obsessed with a man she'd rather die--or kill--than be left behind. As Harris notes when she's on trial for his murder, she doesn't understand how "something that ugly and sad could've happened between two people who didn't argue, except over the use of the subjunctive." As the oddly paired lovers, Annette Bening and Ben Kingsley do a formidable job with their roles. She is a well-educated social climber teaching at a girls' prep school. He is a wealthy doctor who loves her enough to propose marriage, but not enough to go through with it. She sticks around for 14 years, hoping she'll outlast all his other mistresses. When her best friend suggests she find someone worthy of her, Harris scoffs, "I despise decent men. ... Cruelty isn't a crime. Boredom is." Unfortunately, the film--even with all the sensationalistic background material--is a meandering production that evokes boredom and impatience rather than viewer's pity, anger, or understanding. --Jae-Ha Kim

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Mrs. Harris is a film that has severely divided audiences and critics. There are those who have absolutely hated this film, which is based on a true story of the tragic death of Dr. Herman Tarnower (Ben Kingsley) - the Scarsdale Diet Doctor - supposedly by the gun of Jean Harris (Annette Bening). The murder and the proceeding trial was scandalous, after all, it had everything - sex, drugs, abuse, suicides all played out amongst the stuffy and wealthy Connecticut aristocracy.

This film, made for HBO takes a rather moribund look at the events with the director Phyllis Nagy inserting some dark, almost off beat humor into the proceedings. The movie jumps around a bit, combining statements from the trial and interviews with friends and family to launch into the retelling of events that lead up to that fatal outcome.

Was it murder or accidental death? The film opens with the drugged out Jean turning up to Tarnower's house one stormy night and shooting him, but was it an accidental shooting, and was she so emotionally wrought that she didn't know what she was doing? Her defense says yes, but whether she was really responsible or not is up to you, though history states that Mrs. Harris was found guilty.

The suspense is a bit spoilt from showing us what actually happened that fateful night, but the film is still an entertaining and somewhat cautionary tale of a relationship that has gone terribly wrong. Both Kinsley and Bening are perfect as the respective couple, he manipulative, icy and dispassionate, and she the victim, not only of the prescription drugs he constantly doles out to her, but also of his emotional abuse.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great rendition of a twisted tale April 25, 2006
Since "what happens" is already known, this movie focuses on "how" it happened, via a series of mocumentry interviews, fantasy scenes,(one in a men's locker room is superb), and fashbacks. Some excellent scriptwriting ("Jean you really should be maried. Just not to me.") and even better acting especially by Ben Kingsley who plays the Scarsdale Diet author, and Annette Bening, who is superb as Mrs. Jean Harris. Bening is one of the best actresses I've seen who can dive into the role of an ambitious frump (think Elizabeth Taylor in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", with a less viscious dialogue, served at a lower room termperature) and emerge with a gem of a performance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Star Power,but little else in MRS.HARRIS January 12, 2008
If you have seen the earlier film made about the infamous Jean Harris and her "killing" of Scarsdale Diet Guru Hy Tarnower entitled The People Vs. Jean Harris.Neither is very compelling,as the the story and trial in real life is more sensational than it is interesting fodder for a movie.Because the real life story is from the perspective of a woman who, to this day we are not sure what the real story is over the relationship of Harris and Tarnower,(he's dead... so dead men can't talk!), then the best we can get is a screenplay that comes from the true testimony of the trial account (which is actually quite dull and unenlightening to begin with) and the skewed talking-head interviews who can only give their opinions.Everytime this story is told we are left with HIS SIDE,HER SIDE AND THE TRUTH.We will never know what the truth is, and Harris, though convicted,served her time and is out doing charity work! She moved on and so should we from this DVD! Not even the presence of Annette Bening and Ben Kingsley make this worth a purchase nor a second viewing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtroom drama that's not... November 14, 2007
A courtroom drama that doesn't unfold in the courtroom at all. It is told through a story line with two different views on what happened that fateful night. It'll make you wonder what really took place.

Fine, fine performance by Annette Bening. Has she ever made a bad movie?Ben Kingsley usually always does well in his roles too (see the powerful movie 'House of Sand and Fog' or 'Death and the Maiden').

A well recommended movie.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Engaging December 27, 2007
I became a fan of the movie after my first viewing and have DVR'd it so I can watch whenever I want. Ben Kingsley and Annette Bening give wonderful performances, the chemistry between these two makes this a movie worth watching. If Dr. Herman Tarnower was a rich self-centered womanizing jerk, then Ben Kingsley conveyed that in so many ways. I was really entertained with the way these two communicated with each other throughout the movie, for example when Jean begged her lover to stop concentrating on hurting so many women and just concentrate on hurting her, wow. Eventually I will purchase the movie.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Convincing and good casting March 19, 2009
Ben Kingsley is an inspired choice to play the bald-headed diet doc who gets shot by his jealous middle-aged girlfriend way back in 1980. This was tabloid manna back then, and this newer film manages to convey why Mrs. Harris probably shot the guy. He was a creep. What doesn't make sense is why she was so nuts about him. The film doesn't get that message over very well. Still, this is pretty entertaining stuff about a slice of 1970s society.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Jealous? September 16, 2013
I went to Jean Harris's high school, she is the most famous alum to come out of it (for obvious reasons) and is still talked about today among the student body and staff. Many saw this as a travesty that such a woman from such a fine background spent so many years rotting in prison, and many saw it as fair justice. She did kill the guy, after all. Many books have been written about this case, but this was the first movie that I had ever seen of this tale and it was quite good.

Jean Harris was a well brought up woman who had been the head of a private girl's school, having worked her way up from running a pre school out of her home to the upper crust of school administration. Although she seemed to have everything you could ever want, she was unraveling. As covered in the movie, Jean (played with great aplumb by Annette Benning) was under some serious pressure. Four students at her school had been busted for pot smoking (to be known as the Madieira Four). She had angry parents, student and staff screaming at her about what was or wasn't to be done, her rocky relationship with her long term boyfriend Herman Tarnower was at its rockiest patch, and she had run out of the prescription speed that he had prescribed to her in order to keep up with her already demanding schedule. She broke, descending down a mental illness path, and decided to commit suicide. Instead of killing herself, she ended up killing Herman in a "freak accident". And all the time, she was jealous of one of the many women that Herman was being unfaithful with, his receptionist Lynn Tryfornos (played in a very cute nurse's outfit by Chloe Sevengy). This movie did not do a great job of covering the alleged screaming matches that went on (face to face or on the phone) between Jean and Lynn.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly toe tipping fun edge of your seat!!!
Another wonderful doumentery movie.. very tastfully done. Another great Annette Benning movie same said of Ben Kingsley. They both hit it out of the park in this one!
Published 1 month ago by Rebecca
5.0 out of 5 stars Good movie.
I live in New York at the time and worked just around the corner from Purchase where Dr. Tarnower lived. I remember the whole thing and I was glad to get the movie.
Published 15 months ago by Sam J. Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars a good thriller.
a lady's movie. my wife loves it. she has watched it a few time and lent it to friends to see.
Published 19 months ago by Neale J. Marlow
3.0 out of 5 stars Mrs. Harris
The two leads, Annette Bening and Ben Kingsley, both give a great performance. Cloris Leachman has a few scenes, and is a riot. I always enjoy fact based movies.
Published 20 months ago by Tammy Mcbride
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad, Books is always better
I read the book then saw the movie version. As usual the book is usually better but it was interesting to actually see the story played out by such amazing actors. Read more
Published 20 months ago by ellekd
5.0 out of 5 stars Mrs. Harris the movie
This was bought for a friend who had followed the trial of Jean Harris, and didn't know there was an HBO movie based on the trial with lots of flashbacks. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Estrellaita
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this movie!
I absolutely love this movie. I am so happy Amazon had it available for purchase. It never comes on HBO anymore.
Published on July 3, 2011 by T.E.
2.0 out of 5 stars Decent Cast, Poor Direction
I was expecting a well-told story, but instead suffered through a plot that dragged and skipped about haphazardly.
Published on June 28, 2007 by Jordeniche
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