The Plot Against Harry
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In retrospect, it now looks like a cinematic cousin to Philip Roth's Goodbye-Columbus, with its middle-class Jewish milieu and observant humor. Harry (Martin Priest) is a mid-level mobster whose racket has weakened during his stint in prison. Newly out, he tries to piece together the business, or possibly go straight, meanwhile reconnecting with his ex-wife and the two daughters he barely knew. Nothing seems to work--it's almost as though there's a plot against him.
As a curio, Harry is choice. It's easy to see how the movie had trouble in 1969, however; the style suggests an in-the-streets documentary, rather than a culture comedy. (An opening sequence in the jailhouse looks like the beginning of a grim prison exposé.) This bizarre approach actually gives the movie much of its appeal today, however, as does the relentless eccentricity of the supporting cast, many of them non-professionals; Harry's henchman Ben Lang should've had a wonderful career as a good-natured goombah. --Robert Horton
- Special making-of featurette with director Michael Roemer and cinematographer/coproducer Robert Young
- Filmmaker biographies
Top Customer Reviews
The film begins as Harry is being released from prison after a nine-month stay. His chauffeur immediately tells him some of his numbers runners have jumped ship and his gambling flotilla is in danger of sinking. They pick up a couple of his lieutenants who speak Spanish (which Harry doesn't understand) and they more or less ignore him. Harry quickly learns that they and his other runners think of him as washed up. Meanwhile he runs into a couple of his ex-wives and discovers that he has grandchildren. Now a rather unusual mid-life crisis ensues for Harry. He wants to give up the rackets and become an upstanding member of the community, to attend weddings and bar mitzvahs. Just how difficult that is and what transpires form the comedic story of the film.
Director Michael Roemer who also wrote the script uses authentic New York/New Jersey lifestyle details from the sixties (contemporary to him and therefore without the strained or flashy, obtrusive effect we often encounter in period piece movies) to spin his tale. There is a documentary feel to the film overlaid with light-hearted irony. The camera work is amateurish at times and the abrupt cuts lend a kind of jumpy, somehow authentic feel to the story. This can be seen as a satire of gangster films with the warm-hearted and gentle Harry as a kind of anti-Al Capone.
Bottom line: wryly original.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A cool, quirky period piece. Very interesting viewing, it explores some intriguing themes. Some great visuals (street scenes from "back in the day").Published 4 months ago by mystery man