USA (MIFF 1990 )
Director: Michael Roemer

ALTHOUGH IT WAS SHOT in 1969, The Plot Against Harry was publicly premiered at last year's New York Film Festival, from where it has gone on to become one of the greatest 'discoveries' of the past decade or two

The film is a satiric comedy set in a frantic Jewish milieu to which Harry, a small-time numbers-man, returns after many years in jail Harry tries to regain his past — with some hilarious events involving a Congressional inquiry, the catering business, a daughter he doesn't even know — in an effort to become a virtuous member of the middle class But hard as he tries to gain respectability, the schlemiel is hopelessly out of step with this commonplace world.

Directed by Directed by Michael Roemer (best known for the 1964 feature Nothing But A Man) and co- produced and photographed by Robert Young, the film was abandoned after a cold reception in 1969. Roemer believes that the film was a victim of late 19605 zeitgeist. "Back then, we still had heroic ideas about ourselves," he told American Film. "Remember, this was the Easy Rider era, where there were these good people being killed. We had just come out of the Kennedy assassination. People wanted more clean-cut lines between what's good and bad, and this film doesn't have that."

Ironically, the 20-year hiatus has served to
make Roemer's brand of dyspeptic humour
more palatable. Not least of the delights of The Plot Against Harry is its encapsulation of mid- 1960s lifestyles and types, which Roemer's documentary style captures in a way few other films, even the so-called time-honoured classics,manage. Indeed, Harry's desperation, the wry social observation and the film's deadpan tone may speak more to the present generation of filmgoers than to those of the past.

- (PKa)

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