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Sat-Sun, Dec 2-3


  • Dir. Michael Roemer
  • USA
  • 1969
  • 81 min.
  • NR
  • New 4K Restoration
  • Assistive Listening
  • Hearing Loop

Part of Restoration Roundup

Deadpan, small-time Kosher Nostra member and ex-con Harry Plotnick (Martin Priest) is just released from prison and trying to regain his lost turf in a neighborhood turned topsy-turvy. After a chance reunion with his ex-wife and grown children, Harry is suddenly immersed in middle-class normality and goes meshugga when he gets into the catering biz with his ex-brother-in-law (Ben Lang). What follows is a world of call girls, bar mitzvahs, lingerie fashion shows, Cuban-Chinese mobsters, subway parties, Mafia barbecues, dog training classes, Congressional hearings, and hotel pajama parties. Shelved by writer/director Michael Roemer in 1969 following a laugh-less preview, THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY emerged two decades later when he overheard a technician performing a video transfer of the film laughing hysterically. On a whim, Roemer made two 35mm prints and sent them to the New York and Toronto Film Festivals (it was a hit with audiences), before releasing theatrically to great acclaim in early 1990 as a bona fide comedy classic. (Synopsis provided by Film Forum)

“Gives rampant ethnic nuttiness a distinctively wistful vulgarity… At once gritty and ethereal… Although THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY has been compared to John Cassavetes’ work, the director’s sensibility is far closer to Elaine May’s. Roemer’s satire of the Jewish urban middle class has its corollary in May’s THE HEARTBREAK KID, his comic rhythms parallel the droll understatement of the much-aligned ISHTAR, and HARRY’s characters and milieu suggest a ‘lite’ version of May’s MIKEY AND NICKY.” —J.Hoberman, Premiere

“Mirrors a sort of fine comic sensibility that never goes out of fashion. An acutely observed satiric comedy whose deadpan matches that of its perpetually glum, heavy lidded title character.” —Vincent Canby,  New York Times