Michael Roemer's THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY (1969, new 35mm print!)
We are thrilled to present a new 35mm print of one of the great American independent films of the 1960s, among the most authentic portraits of New York Jewish culture of its era.
Sep 06, 2023, 7:00 PM
Brain Dead Studios, 611 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036, USA
The Plot Against Harry
directed by Michael Roemer
1969/1989, 81m, U.S., 35mm
LA premiere of a restored 35mm print courtesy of The Film Desk
Two shows, one night only!
We are thrilled to present a new 35mm print of one of the great American independent films of the 1960s. Among the most authentic portraits of New York Jewish culture of its era, Michael Roemer’s wise and bitterly funny Jewish gangster comedy follows Harry Plotnick (the Buster Keaton-faced Max Priest), a racketeer newly released from prison, who finds himself slowly and begrudgingly humbled into the mores of Jewish middle-class society. Featuring an incredible cast of non-professional actors, Roemer’s deadpan (yet gentle) comedy of manners was the product of two years’ immersion into the world of Jewish kingpins, call girls and caterers, and anticipates the neurotic schlemiel picaresques of the Coen Brothers and Safdies by decades. Shot in 1969 but unable to find distribution because “no one thought it was funny”, the film was re-released in 1989 to rapturous acclaim and has slowly accrued cult status. Today, it should be recognized as a classic.
Special thanks to Jake Perlin (The Film Desk).
"It's one of those known movies that's not that widely seen, about this slightly older Jewish gangster who gets out of prison after doing a couple of years and is dealing with all kinds of life problems. It has a little bit of The Sopranos in it except that there is no violence whatsoever in the movie that I can recall. It is very well written, and has a certain gentleness about it." -Wes Anderson
“A jewel found in the grime of New York City… a Felliniesque comedy of Jewish despair.” – A.S. Hamrah, Screen Slate
“Beautifully shot (by coproducer Robert M. Young, a director in his own right) and cast with a wonderful bunch of unknowns (who include Ben Lang, Maxine Woods, Henry Nemo, Jacques Taylor, Jean Leslie, Ellen Herbert, and Sandra Kazan), this is both a lovely piece of filmmaking and an exquisitely detailed portrait of a milieu and period, sealed as if in a time capsule.” -Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
“Gives rampant ethnic nuttiness a distinctively wistful vulgarity…At once gritty and ethereal…Although The Plot Against Harry has been compared to John Cassavetes’s 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
“Roemer’s dyspeptic comedy bares unhealed and unspoken wounds of NY Jewish life… [He] writes dialogue with an ear for offhand cruelties and fractured intimacies; his satirical vision evenhandedly distributes willful struggle and oblivious vanity.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker
“A time capsule [that] feels like a jolt of fresh air.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
“Few films capture the bittersweet flavor of tristate-area life like The Plot Against Harry ....an ode to urban Jewish life and the joy and pain in the ass that is family." -Chris Shields, Screen Slate