The DVD Journal | Quick Reviews: Harry and Walter Go To New York
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Harry and Walter Go to New York

It's pretty tough for James Caan to not look cool — the guy can rock a pink shirt and polyester pants like nobody's business. But put him in turn-of-the-century vaudeville gear, complete with mismatching plaids and stripes, and stand him next to the similarly attired Elliot Gould, and suddenly he's not Sonny Corleone anymore. Not that Sonny should be here. After all, Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976) is a period-piece comedy, a little lark that's supposed to put a smile on your face. Directed by Mark Rydell (who later gained prominence for an infinitely different picture, On Golden Pond), the picture teams two lovable vaudeville performers named Harry (Caan) and Walter (Gould) in a wacky crime scenario that's a bit too daft for its own good. Small-time losers who perform the same stupid routine in suspenders, curly mustaches, and greasepaint for unamused audiences in tiny venues, Harry and Walter don't have much going for them. Thus, they engage in a petty theft, are busted, and sent to prison. But at least they've got each other (awww....) While in the joint, they meet the distinguished, dashing safecracker Adam Worth (Michael Caine, very nice here in his effortless way), who's ready to pounce on a score in New York City. Harry and Walter want a slice and, copying Worth's plan, they bust out of the joint and head for the Big Apple, hoping to pull off the large-scale bank robbery. Joining them is Lissa Chestnut (Diane Keaton), a suffragette and editor for a radical newspaper who's just as daffy as can be (what a surprise for Diane Keaton). Can we just say that wacky hijinks ensue? A third rate pre-cursor to the underrated Ishtar, in which Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman play a couple of maladjusted entertainers in way over their heads, Harry and Walter Go to New York is a head-scratching bit of '70s cinema. Is it a family film? Yes — there's nothing offensive or scary or sleazy about the picture (which means it's not as much fun). But then again, it's got a cast that should be barking out curse words and tossing people into garbage dumpsters. One can't help but wonder why these actors agreed to take the film. Harry and Walter is something Disney should have gotten their hands on — a picture the Magic Kingdom would have done justice to in their more subversive '70s phase (The North Avenue Irregulars, Freaky Friday). But as PG-rated entertainment, it is too middle of the road, too cute, and not very clever. Columbia TriStar presents a pleasing anamorphic transfer (2:35:1) of this film that does justice to the period detail and song-and-dance routines, while audio is in monaural Dolby 2.0. Supplements include an array of subtitles and trailers for Harry and Walter, Murder by Death, and For Pete's Sake. Keep-case.
—Kim Morgan



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