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Harry & Son

Harry & Son

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Harry & Son is a 1984
1984 in film
-Events:* The Walt Disney Company founds Touchstone Pictures to release movies with subject matter deemed inappropriate for the Disney name.* Tri-Star Pictures, a joint venture of Columbia Pictures, HBO, and CBS, releases its first film....

Cinema of the United States
The cinema of the United States, also known as Hollywood, has had a profound effect on cinema across the world since the early 20th century. Its history is sometimes separated into four main periods: the silent film era, classical Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood, and the contemporary period...

 drama film
Drama film
A drama film is a film genre that depends mostly on in-depth development of realistic characters dealing with emotional themes. Dramatic themes such as alcoholism, drug addiction, infidelity, moral dilemmas, racial prejudice, religious intolerance, poverty, class divisions, violence against women...

 directed by Paul Newman
Paul Newman
Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

, who also stars. The screenplay by Newman and Ronald Buck focuses on the relationship between a blue-collar worker
Blue-collar worker
A blue-collar worker is a member of the working class who performs manual labor. Blue-collar work may involve skilled or unskilled, manufacturing, mining, construction, mechanical, maintenance, technical installation and many other types of physical work...

 and his son, who fails at various odd jobs while aspiring to be a writer. Much of the film was shot in Lake Worth, FL. The movie set construction site was the demolition of the sister hotel affiliated with the Gulf Stream Hotel
Gulf Stream Hotel
The Gulf Stream Hotel is a historic hotel in Lake Worth, Florida. It is located at 1 Lake Avenue. On January 11, 1983, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places....

 named The Inn.


Widower Harry Keach is a construction worker who was raised to appreciate the importance of working for a living. He takes a dim view of his sensitive son Howard's lackadaisical lifestyle, devoted to a dead-end part-time job, surfing, chasing girls, and hot-tubbing while he dreams of becoming the next Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

. Harry also has a strained relationship with his daughter Nina because he dislikes her husband, an insurance salesman.

When intense headaches and impaired vision cause Harry to lose control of the wrecking ball on his crane, he loses his job. His unemployment leaves him feeling frustrated, although he refuses to work in his brother Tom's military surplus
Military surplus
Military surplus are goods, usually matériel, that are sold or otherwise disposed of when no longer needed by the military. Entrepreneurs often buy these goods and resell them at surplus stores. Military surplus rarely includes weapons or munitions, though they are occasionally found in such stores...

 store. He becomes increasingly angry at Howard for quitting jobs at a car wash and with an auto-repo outfit and threatens to throw his son out of the house.

Harry spends some of his free time visiting his widowed neighbor Lilly, a pet store owner who has loved Harry for years. Her daughter Katie, a former girlfriend of Howard, is now pregnant with another man's child.

After being abandoned by her lover, Katie's relationship with Howard rekindles. He is resisting the advances of a nymphomaniacal older woman, Sally, but eventually introduces her to Harry.

Howard succeeds in selling a short story
Short story
A short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format. This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novellas and novels. Short story definitions based on length differ somewhat, even among professional writers, in part because...

, much to his father's amazement. He uses some of the money to finance a vacation for Harry, Lilly, Katie and her newborn baby (also called Harry). Harry begins to experience happiness at last, until tragedy strikes.


  • Paul Newman
    Paul Newman
    Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

     ..... Harry Keach
  • Robby Benson
    Robby Benson
    Robby Benson is an American film and television actor, television director, educator and singer.-Early life:Benson was born Robin David Segal in Dallas, Texas, the son of Freda Ann , a singer, actress, and business promotions manager, and Jerry Segal, a writer...

     ..... Howard Keach
  • Ellen Barkin
    Ellen Barkin
    Ellen Barkin is an American film, television and theatre actress.-Early life:She was born Ellen Rona Barkin in Bronx, a borough of New York City, New York, the daughter of Evelyn , a hospital administrator who worked at Jamaica Hospital, and Sol Barkin, a chemical salesman...

     ..... Katie Wilowski
  • Joanne Woodward
    Joanne Woodward
    Joanne Gignilliat Trimmier Woodward is an American actress, television and theatrical producer, and widow of Paul Newman...

     ..... Lilly Wilowski
  • Wilford Brimley
    Wilford Brimley
    Allen Wilford Brimley is an American actor. He has appeared in such films as The China Syndrome, Cocoon, The Thing and The Firm. He had a recurring role on the 1970s television series The Waltons...

     ..... Tom Keach
  • Judith Ivey
    Judith Ivey
    Judith Lee Ivey is an American actress and director.-Personal life:Ivey was born in El Paso, Texas, the daughter of Dorothy Lee , a teacher, and Nathan Aldean Ivey, a college instructor and dean. She spent 1965-1968 in Dowagiac, Michigan, where she attended Union High School through tenth grade...

     ..... Sally
  • Ossie Davis
    Ossie Davis
    Ossie Davis was an American film actor, director, poet, playwright, writer, and social activist.-Early years:...

     ..... Raymond
  • Morgan Freeman
    Morgan Freeman
    Morgan Freeman is an American actor, film director, aviator and narrator. He is noted for his reserved demeanor and authoritative speaking voice. Freeman has received Academy Award nominations for his performances in Street Smart, Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption and Invictus and won...

     ..... Siemanowski
  • Katherine Borowitz ..... Nina
  • Maury Chaykin
    Maury Chaykin
    Maury Alan Chaykin was an American-born Canadian actor. Best known for his portrayal of detective Nero Wolfe, he was also known for his work as a character actor in many films and on television programs.-Personal life:...

     ..... Lawrence

Critical reception

The film received negative reviews from critics. Vincent Canby
Vincent Canby
Vincent Canby was an American film critic who became the chief film critic for The New York Times in 1969 and reviewed more than 1000 films during his tenure there.-Life and career:...

 of the New York Times called the film "a decently intentioned but rather drab mess of a movie" and added, "Mr. Newman has done creditable work as a director before . . . but Harry and Son looks like a first effort, partly because the screenplay has no focus and no particular tone of voice . . . Though the characters use a lot of words that are still taboo on television, the entire project feels as small and dated as a Studio One show of the 1950s."

Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

 of the Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Sun-Times is an American daily newspaper published in Chicago, Illinois. It is the flagship paper of the Sun-Times Media Group.-History:The Chicago Sun-Times is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the city...

rated the film one star and commented, "This movie looks like the aftermath of an explosion in the story department. It's about everything. They give us so many relationships, so many problems, so many emotional hazards, so many colorful characters, we need a battery-lighted ballpoint, so we can take notes in the dark."

Although Time Out London felt the film was "well acted and elegantly photographed," it thought overall "It is nothing more than a constant succession of the kind of emotional peaks actors love to do on screen. Humbler scenes involving background or narrative, which may be immensely tedious to act but help the plot unfold, have in general been left out altogether. The result is a curiously indigestible phenomenon, like being forced to eat five courses of avocado
The avocado is a tree native to Central Mexico, classified in the flowering plant family Lauraceae along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel...

 by an overbearing dinner-party host."

Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...

 maintains the film with a 22% "rotten" rating. Robby Benson's performance in the film earned him a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Supporting Actor.