Plot Against Harry,The
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A sleeper of Rip van Winkle dimensions, Michael Roemer's subtly
innovative ethnic comedy went over the heads of preview audiences in
1969, sat on a shelf for 20 years, then resurfaced in 1989 to
triumphant festival screenings and rave reviews. The central character
is Harry Plotnik, a sad-sack Jewish gangster who finds his numbers
racket slipping away. Under pressure from well-meaning relatives,
Harry makes an erratic effort to go straight, triggering a series of
humiliations and small disasters. Rather than partitioning the film's
humor into a series of self-enclosed gags, Roemer instead creates a
constant and pervasive comic atmosphere, based on sharply observed
details, slow build-ups, throw-aways, deadpan reactions, egg-on-face
ironies, and a precise sense of anticlimax.