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Art Carney was a quiet, quirky genius and this film is a lasting
testament to his talent.
It's a story about how an -average- man (actually not average at all, as we come to find out) lives a life of dignity and confronts the chaos of modern existence--including that most devastating of inevitabilities, mortality and, particularly, old age .
Besides Carney, watch for superb ensemble acting from Ellen Burstyn, Larry Hagman, the inimitable Chief Dan George, Arthur Hunnicutt, and a host of great character actors from the 70's.
Unlike so many contemporary scripts from the late 60's and early 70's, the cultural references seem interesting and historical and not dated, probably because--like everything else in this film--they are treated with respect and a sense of mercy.
If this film had been made by a French director in 1974, it would be heralded as a major classic. Oh, well.
Watch it. Savor it. This is really something special.
A wonderful movie experience that speaks volumes with its quiet, methodical pace. "Harry and Tonto" concerns a retired school teacher in his 70s (shocking Oscar-winner Art Carney) who is forced to leave the only home he has ever known when his apartment in New York is demolished to make way for a parking garage. Possibly this will be no big deal as he and Tonto (his faithful cat) decide to go live with his son (Philip Burns). Quickly it is apparent though that the arrangement will not work and Carney decides that maybe it is time to see the nation he has never gotten a chance to see before by heading west (with a little luggage and his cat of course). Along the way he meets back up with his daughter (Ellen Burstyn), has his grandson (Josh Mostel) follow him from New York, encounters a strange hitchhiker (Melanie Mayron) and even has a short jail stay with Chief Dan George. As the trip continues a fine line is developed between Carney's old ties and his new ones. Carney is one of those people who instantly appears to be everyone's life-long friend. The trip is an opportunity to meet new friends and sometimes, very sadly, say goodbye to old ones. In the end Carney's journey does not only take him cross-country, it also takes him to new and sometimes forgotten emotional experiences that he desperately needed to have. "Harry and Tonto" is a simple film that did not rely on a big budget or trivial situations to tell its story. This is a human tale that speaks to anyone who is willing and able to listen. Director and co-writer Paul Mazursky (Oscar-nominated for the latter) created a movie that touches its audience with heart, emotion and smarts. Carney is a revelation. He is basically only known for his silly turn on television's "The Honeymooners", but he proved he could play a part that is very difficult to pull off. Carney, only 56 at the time, plays much older than he was and received much support come Oscar season (some looking suspiciously like sympathy votes). In the end, Carney did win Oscar gold over such other names as Al Pacino ("The Godfather, Part II"), Jack Nicholson ("Chinatown"), Dustin Hoffman ("Lenny") and Albert Finney ("Murder on the Orient Express"). In retrospect, it is still hard to decide which of those five delivered the finest performance of that year. One thing is for sure though, "Harry and Tonto" is one of those rare movies that always seems to stand the test of time. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Every once in a while - but less and less these days - a movie comes
around that has some impact, in that you find it hard to get it out
your mind for awhile. That's what "Harry and Tonto" did to me,
It wasn't the world's greatest film but it was great storytelling, sometimes a lost art among filmmakers in recent decades. "Harry" is a retiree and "Tonto" is his cat. The movie follows the two around as the pair travel from the East Coast to the West. It all begins when Harry's building is demolished as part of "urban renewal." He quickly finds out he doesn't want to live with his quirky son and his even-stranger kids, so he hits the road to Chicago to seek out other relatives. It goes from there.
The movie is filled with little vignettes. For instance, how the cat adapts for doesn't adapt to some modes of travel and the interesting and very diverse people Harry meets on the way (which winds up going all the way to Los Angeles).
Art Carney as "Harry Coombes" got the Academy Award for best actor. My vote might have gone to the cat. If you've ever owned a cat, you can appreciate how unbelievably-trained this feline was in the film. Tonto was amazing! Almost everyone in this film is a good person who tries to befriend Harry and Tonto, so you get a good feel throughout this almost-two-hour movie. It's one memorable short story after another - some funny, some sad.
I hate to use this cliché, but it's the kind of slow-moving, human-interest story movie you don't see anymore. That's a shame, because these kinds of films you don't forget.
Harry is a man who has no place in the world; with his orange cat Tonto, his
partner, they search for a place in the world that is changing. Through a
repression, changing values, and rapid changing scenery, he sticks out like
a sore thumb with his family, his friends, and people. He then is on a
destination to Chicago to stay with his daughter, but after he's thrown off
a plane, he travels on a bus, but when his cat won't go to the bathroom,
he's thrown off the bus and is stranded and decides to drive. On the way to
Chicago he has an adventure meeting different people, people that are
symbols of the changing society and he learns to cope with them and tries to
adapt, yet can't find his place in society. Harry must find a place in the
world and he intends to find one. This is a heartbreaking, poignant and
engrossing view into a man's life in old age. Art Carney gives an excellent
performance of a man conflicted with changing society, and a man who must
force himself to adapt whether he likes it or not. Will he ever find his
place in the world? You have to watch to see.
*** out of **** stars.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've seen this movie 3 times and look forward to seeing again and again. It's on my holiday wish list in DVD. Paul Mazursky's tale was surely written well, but nobody could have done it better than Carney. He truly separated himself from a possible type cast situation from his days as Ed Norton. And in the end who doesn't cry when Tonto passes? But, I've always been a fan of Art Carney and this movie is one of the main reasons why. I highly recommend it and give a giant thumbs up.
I have Harry and Tonto on VHS. I do not know how many times I have seen this truly outstanding film. Art Carney was brilliant at Harry a retired school teacher who had to leave his an Apt in NY, because the city wants to put up a parking gorge in it's place. Harry's wife has died and his children are grown living on there own. Harry lives with his best friend a cat named Tonto. That Harry deeply loves. Tonto goes everywhere with Harry. Even to run errands. Harry tries to live with his son. Harry find it is not working for him to live with his son, so Harry decide to go out and see the rest of the country. Harry sets off with Tonto and has many adventures a long the way. Harry a long with Tonto go to see Harry's children. Harry and Tonto meet some old and new friends as they make there way across the country to California. It is very sad when Harry must say good by to some old and treasured friends. Art Carney won the Academy Award for his portrait of Harry in this very brilliant and touching film. Harry and Tonto is one of my all time favorite films
After being evicted from his New York City apartment, a retired gent and his aging feline go on a cross country trip searching for a new life. They cross paths with many interesting folks and suffer their share of difficulties along the way. Harry was a philosophical old boy who managed to weather the upsets well; a solid man and totally likeable character. Excellent film, well written and played out. 5 stars.
"Harry And Tonto" is one of my all time favorite movies. It is a film that is as beautiful and funny as it is poignant and sad. It is also a film that features one of the finest acting performances in the last fifty years given by the late, great Art Carney. Carney shows why he won a well deserved Oscar for his performance as the kindhearted, retired teacher Harry Combes who goes cross-country with his pet cat Tonto as they encounter several eccentric characters and have some truly unforgettable moments. A wonderful film, that truly deserves a DVD release. Hopefully one day.
This is a very special movie to me. I don't want to give away any of the plot but I will just say that this is a movie that will leave you with a smile and touch your heart. You will want to live life to the fullest just like good old Harry and Tonto. Art Carney is simply smashing and brilliant in the lead role. Just a great movie! See it!
I saw the movie for the first time on AMC and enjoyed it a lot. You don't see movies of this type anymore and when you see one like this you can't forget it. I thought Art Carney did a tremendous job acting as Harry. It also tended to remind people that they get old and lose their friends due to death and search for new companions.
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