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The People vs. Jean Harris (1981)

A re-enactment of the trial of the mistress of the Scarsdale Diet doctor for his March 1980 murder, with excerpts from the transcript of the proceedings serving as the script.




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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Jean Harris
Joel Aurnou
Judge Russell R. Leggett
George Bolen
Juanita Edwards
Milton Selzer ...
Dr. Roth
Alan Manson ...
Dr. Ryan
Sarah Marshall ...
Suzanne van der Vreken
Dr. Roh
Sari Price
Millie Slavin ...


A re-enactment of the trial of the mistress of the Scarsdale Diet doctor for his March 1980 murder, with excerpts from the transcript of the proceedings serving as the script.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Romance





Release Date:

7 May 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Jean-Harris-Prozess  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This drama was based on transcripts from Jean Harris' criminal trial. It was notable in being broadcast less than 3 months after the end of the actual trial. See more »


Referenced in Escale à Nanarland: Le Justicier de New York (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

A Great Performance by Ellen!
27 January 2007 | by See all my reviews

Okay, I was expecting a little more from this film. I haven't seen Mrs. Harris with Annette Bening. Of course, I believe Ellen Burstyn gives a brilliant complex performance as Mrs. Jean Harris who shot her lover of 14 years, Dr. Herman Tarmhower nicknamed the Scarsdale Diet Doctor. Ellen brings Jean's character to life making her complex, complicated, strong, vulnerable, weak, emotional, and completely real to the audience. You understand her and you wonder why she went to prison. Of course, Dr. Tarmhower or Hi as he was called by her had another mistress, a divorced Lynn Triforest who never testified at the trial. Mrs. Harris was a beautiful, intelligent woman who wanted Hi's company, companionship, rather than force him to marry her. She made the trips from Virginia and often drove up to see him and not the other way around. Somehow they were together for many years, the thought of a break-up was just unbearable for Jean who loved Hi completely with faults and all. She was his cerebral companion as well as lover but Hi needed more. Maybe she just didn't live up to his expectations in the bedroom, who knows since he has been gone for 27 years? Mrs. Harris was not a stupid woman only when it came to love and the Scarsdale Diet Doctor. There is no man worthy enough to kill yourself for in this world. Mrs. Harris felt insecure, unattractive, and inadequate only because her partner, Hi, made her feel that way. This case raises a lot of points about relationships including selfishness and possessiveness on both sides. I believe Ellen deserved an Emmy. I felt the courtroom version was both too long because it never left the courtroom.

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