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USA 1974
Directed by
Paul Mazursky
114 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Harry And Tonto

Art Carney, in a part originally intended for James Cagney who refused to come out of retirement for it, won an Academy Award for his portrayal of a spirited septuagenarian (Carney was 56 at the time but doesn't act a day under 70) who gets evicted from his New York apartment and decides to visit his grown-up children, taking with him his ever-present companion, his cat, Tonto

Well-scripted by Mazursky with Josh Greenfield, the film is in the picaresque, road movie tradition and very much of its time as Harry goes through all manner of adventures. The script interpellates some nice sociological observations of “hippie” youth with references to the fashionable drugs of the time, Zen Buddhism and the appearance by an all-girl band as well as popular TV shows of the period such as Columbo and Ironside. It is a low-key, genial and elegiac film and a decent example of what Mazursky described as "serious comedy", although perhaps too insistently mild-mannered and improbably benign to convince our faster-moving times (compare Alexander Payne's About Schmidt, 2002, which is a more vibrant, albeit more straightfowardly comedic take on similar subject matter). The poor cat appeared to hate nearly every minute of it.

FYI:  Ellen Burstyn who has a small role as Harry's estranged daughter here, won the Best Actress Oscar that year for her performance in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Available from: Screenpop




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