Art Carney shines in this poignant drama about an aging widower's determined search for a better life. Harry (Carney), who lives in New York with his pet cat, Tonto, is having a rough time of it. Not only does he keep ge... more »tting mugged, but the huge wrecking ball outside his window is about to demolish his apartment. So Harry bids farewell to the city and sets out for life in the suburbs with his son's family. But son Burt is too stuffy and his wife is too bossy. When a stay with Harry's single daughter doesn't work out either, man and cat head West in a second-hand car, meeting bizarre characters along the way. Finally they reach L.A., where Harry moves in with his other son Eddie (Larry Hagman). But by now Harry's realized he likes being on the road and hasn't yet had his fill of adventure. Highlighted by Carney's outstanding performance. This moving story lights up the screen with a wit and wisdom that is rare and beautiful.« less
Danny M. Hobbs | Tigard, OR United States | 03/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Evicted (literally carried) from his New York apartment, Harry Coombes (Carney) and Tonto, his cat, undergo a series of encounters that move them slowly, inevitably west. Harry stays briefly with each of his three children, and reinforced by casting choices, we feel that we're moving backward in time, eldest to youngest. Harry, too, seems to move backward in time. Through a series of other encounters - an Indian healer, a young girl running away from home, and others - Harry sheds his past, piece by piece, and moves toward an open future in which anything might happen.
There are memorable character portraits by Ellen Burstyn, Larry Hagman, Arthur Hunnicutt, Chief Dan George, and others. And of course Harry, whose acceptance of loss and refusal to indulge in sentimentality or self-pity show us it is possible to age with dignity and suppleness. This is a gem of a movie, from a time when Hollywood was not afraid to tell real stories about real people.
Would someone, PLEASE, release this on DVD!? Forget the special features, forget the cast & crew bios, the filmographies, the frills and trills. Just remaster this and put a good, clean copy on DVD. It's too good a movie to lose to tape rot! "
"I'll tell you something Harry, I don't always like you...bu
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 03/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, I'll agree Art Carney was certainly the unlikely Oscar winner in 1975 for his role as gallivanting, cat toting septuagenarian Harry Coombes in the film Harry and Tonto (1974), especially given his competition including Jack Nicholson (Chinatown), Al Pacino (The Godfather: Part II), Dustin Hoffman (Lenny), and Albert Finney (Murder on the Orient Express), but that shouldn't overshadow the fact that this is just a really wonderful film, one worth checking out. Produced, co-written, and directed by Paul Mazursky (Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Down and Out in Beverly Hills), the film stars, as I mentioned, Art Carney (W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood), probably best know for his role of Ed Norton, the world's most famous sewer worker, on the 1950s series "The Honeymooners". Also appearing is Philip Bruns (The Great Waldo Pepper), Cliff De Young (F/X), Josh Mostel (City Slickers), Geraldine Fitzgerald (Wuthering Heights), Melanie Mayron (My Blue Heaven), Chief Dan George (The Outlaw Josey Wales), Larry Hagman ("I Dream of Jeannie"), and Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist), who won an Oscar for another film she appeared in released the same year titled Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.
Carney plays Harry Coombes, a widowed, 72 year old retired teacher who's recently found out that he and his orange tabby named Tonto, are soon to be among the homeless throngs as their NY apartment building is slated for destruction, to be replaced by a parking lot. Harry reluctantly moves in with his son Burt (Bruns) in his suburban home, but quickly realizes living with a group isn't his (or Tonto's) bag. Harry begins looking for a new place in the city, but it's difficult, especially when you've got a cat in tow. After the death of a close friend, Harry decides to do a little traveling and spend time with his two, other children, one of whom named Shirley (Burstyn) lives in Chicago, and the other named Eddie (Hagman) who lives in California. After problems not only at the airport and subsequently on the bus, Harry and Tonto find themselves on foot somewhere between the moon and New York City, eventually buying a car, picking up a couple of hitchhikers (the scripture quoting hitchhiker soon finds another ride, thank God, as he's headed south rather than west), one of them a runaway named Ginger (Mayron), who manages to convince Harry to look up an old flame (Fitzgerald) along the way (it's not like Harry or Ginger are in that big of a hurry to get anywhere in particular). The trio do make it to Chicago and see Harry's daughter, but they're soon on their way again, with Harry's grandson Norman (Mostel) along for the ride (Norman was sent from NY to collect his grandfather, but ends up sort of hooking up with Ginger). After some interesting encounters (a vitamin salesman, a benevolent prostitute, and an honest to goodness Native American medicine man), Harry and Tonto finally make it out west, learning the journey can often times be more enjoyable than the destination.
Here's one of my favorite lines from the film...it comes from an elderly landlady of a shoddy NYC apartment building as Harry, who's looking for a new place, comments on the limited view..."At our age, if you don't know what the world looks like, you never will." Everyone's a comedian...I like how she just walked in on the tenant still living in the apartment to show it (apparently, he was moving out at the end of the week). You know what's strange? I've never seen anyone walking a cat (as they would a dog, with a leash), until I saw this film. This is a fairly sweet, mellow, sometimes sad film that flows along at a amiable pace, taking its' time in the telling. Carney, who was in his mid 50s at the time, is really wonderful as Harry, an educated man (he's always got a line of Shakespeare handy), and devoted cat owner, always with a song in his heart, just beginning to explore the opportunities now in front of him, some of which he traded off on many years past in choosing to settle down and raise a family. One of my favorite elements of the character is, despite the time spent in the Big Apple (he'd been mugged four times that year), he displays a willingness to open himself up to the experience of traveling the country by the seat of his pants with his furry companion, meeting new and interesting people, and seeing the world outside of a major, metropolitan city. He does seem a little naïve at times, but I think it's more of him just leaving his preconceptions behind and his willingness to want to understand how the rest of the world lives. As far as the rest of the performances, they were all very well done, doing exactly what they should have, supporting Carney's role. I thought Harry's children interesting...there's Burt, the sort of clingy, overly concerned son, Shirley, the independent daughter who seems to have inherited her father's intelligence as well as his stubbornness, and finally Eddie (Hagman), the seemingly well-to-do Hollywood schmoozer who puts up a good, but transparent façade (he's broke as the day is long). As I said, the story moves along pretty well, and I hardly even realized nearly two hours had passed by the time it was over. I was really engaged in the characters and relationships, along with the bits of humor and drama. There are a couple of poignant moments in the film, but they're never milked as they would have been in other films, and for that I was impressed and thankful. They were relatively short, sweet, and appropriate, and kept the film well away from the realm of schmaltzy sentimentality.
The picture, presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), looks clean and comes across well, as do the audio tracks, available in both Dolby Digital mono (English and Spanish) and stereo (English only). There's a commentary track with producer, co-writer, and director Paul Mazursky, along with a theatrical teaser, a theatrical trailer, and three television spots, and English and Spanish subtitles.
By the way, not only did Mazursky produce, co-write, and direct this film, but he also appeared in a bit part credited as the `Gay Hustler'. Watch for his scene in the last third of the film, as Harry's at a bus terminal in L.A. waiting for his son Eddie to pick him up. One last thing, if this film taught me anything it's that people sure loved the Raymond Burr television series "Ironsides" back in the day. "
Harry and Tonto DVD - Get It For Posterity
S. Schockow | Rochester, NY | 02/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A truly magnificent film that is forgotten, even though it displays independence, sentimentality, masterful acting and pure entertainment. If for no other reason, you need to get the DVD version to hear Paul Mazursky's commentary version of the film. It is fascinating to learn the details that went into making this classic! The one criticism is that Mazursky makes a couple of references to "Art Carney being only 59 when the movie was made." Since the movie was shot in the fall of 1973, Art was actually only 54 at that time, and he plays Harry at age 72 perfectly. With all apologies to Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman and Albert Finney, their work in 1974 cannot compare to Art Carney's Oscar-winning performance. You owe it to yourself to purchase this film!"
Jenks | Chicago, IL | 09/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great film, and yes I believe that Carney deserved to win the Oscar for his performance. This movie was at times very sentimental--but who cares. Art Carney gives a great perfomance as an elderly man on an odyssey, seemingly leaving the past behind and forging toward a new beginning. The plot is plain and simple but it is the simplistic nature of the plot that gives the film its magic. I love it and feel that it is a wonderful and touching film."
Very touching and sometimes difficult film to watch...
R. Kyle | USA | 01/06/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Art Carney renders an amazing performance as Harry Coombs, a 70 year old schoolteacher who is forced along with his 11-year-old cat Tonto from his lifetime home when developers want to plough under his apartment building to make way for a parking garage. When he realizes that living with his son in the suburbs isn't working, Harry and Tonto opt to take to the road and see the world that a career and family kept Harry from doing so long ago. The one aspect of this film that shone through is that Harry never forgot his friends. He never abandoned Tonto, though if he had he'd have had more options on living space. This is definitely a touching 'coming of age' film."