Harry and Tonto, written by Josh Greenfeld and Paul Mazursky, directed by the latter
9 out of 10
Notes and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
Even if not spectacular or complicated, Harry and Tonto is without a doubt one of the best comedies ever made.
It is in fact on The New York Times’ Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made list:
Art Carney, the magnificent actor in the title role has deservedly won both:
- The Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and
- The Golden Globe in the same category
Tonto – my understanding is that the actor- cat had the same name as its character- deserved some awards as well.
After all, I think I have seen only once a person with a cat in a leech and the tomcat that has one of the leading roles is brilliant.
Harry is a retired man in his seventies, with a great sense of humor, combative attitude and a zest for life.
- Harry is a role model!
- Happy with his past life and yet ready for new challenges, he drives or is driven from one side of the USA to the other
Friendly and talkative, open and funny, resilient and loyal, wise and well read, this is the ideal companion.
He quotes from Shakespeare and he rightly says that the genius was the best writer ever, when there are challenges…
One scene in which he refers to William Shakespeare takes place in one of his sons’ car, after being evacuated:
- You know, Lear had to leave his estate…it ended up badly…I think there were words to this effect
This is a good comedy, with jokes on so many aspects, from the “capitalist bastards” that demolish Harry’s building to the… panhandler:
- “Panhandler: [knocks on car window] Have you got 35 cents?
- Harry: Why thirty-five?
- Panhandler: I wanna' buy a mink coat.”
Once he leaves New York with his cat, Harry meets a wide variety of people: a second hand salesman, a sixteen year old girl that may be younger, and a hooker who has sex with the hero on the way to Las Vegas.
Issues like drugs- from peyote to heroine-old age, sex, Tibetan meditation, yoga and the vows of silence are discussed.
Harry has a few too many drinks when he enters a casino in Sin City and takes Tonto along with him, with the result that he has to urinate.
He is arrested, because he did that at the entrance in the hotel and in jail he meets another colorful personage:
- Sam Two Feathers is a Native American who “uses good medicine on good people and bad medicine on bad people”
He is actually arrested for practicing without a license, but he is very good at what he does and we have a scientific explanation.
- Sam Two Feathers has a calling, he says himself that he “loves his work”
Psychology studies have revealed that there are three groups of men and women in each domain, with one category working to get paid, a second doing it because they see it as a career opportunity and the most privileged are those who have a calling.
There are evidently moments of sadness, as when his communist friend dies, or when he meets his third son, Eddie.
Larry Hagman, famous for his role in the Dallas soap opera series around here, has the role of the depressed son.
Eddie is left without money, but with the profile of a “playboy „as his father puts it and starts crying over his failures.