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Poster for The Plot Against Harry
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The Plot Against Harry

Director: Michael Roemer Run Time: 91 min. Format: 35mm Release Year: 1971

Starring: Ben Lang, Henry Nemo, Jacquelyn Taylor, Martin Priest, Maxine Woods

LA premiere of a restored 35mm print courtesy of The Film Desk

We are thrilled to present a new 35mm print of one of the great American independent films of the 1970s. Among the most authentic portraits of New York Jewish culture of its era, Michael Roemer’s darkly 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 predates the Kosher Nostra sagas of the Coens and Safdies by decades. Shot in 1969 but unable to find distribution because “no one thought it was funny”, the film was rereleased 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 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

“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

– A.S. Hamrah, Screen Slate

“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


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