Deconstructing Harry (1997)

R  |   |  Comedy  |  2 January 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 33,992 users   Metascore: 61/100
Reviews: 128 user | 103 critic | 19 from

Suffering from writer's block and eagerly awaiting his writing award, Harry Block remembers events from his past and scenes from his best-selling books as characters, real and fictional, come back to haunt him.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Janet (as Stephanie Roth)
Dan Frazer ...
Joel Leffert ...
Yankee Announcer (voice)
Jane Hoffman ...
Annette Arnold ...
Frederick Rolf ...
Lortensia Hayes ...


Harry Block is a well-regarded novelist whose tendency to thinly-veil his own experiences in his work, as well as his un-apologetic attitude and his proclivity for pills and whores, has left him with three ex-wives that hate him. As he is about to be honored for his writing by the college that expelled him, he faces writer's block and the impending marriage of his latest flame to a writer friend. As scenes from his stories and novels pass and interact with him, Harry faces the people whose lives he has affected - wives, lovers, his son, his sister. Written by Gary Dickerson <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Harry Block has written a best seller... bout his best friends... he revealed their deepest secrets... and they're not pleased... now Harry Block is going to Hell... See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

2 January 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Meanest Man in the World  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$356,476 (USA) (12 December 1997)


DEM 1,795,078 (Germany) (29 May 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman , Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson were sought in vain for the role of Harry Block. See more »


In Harry's line "I once almost ran over a book critic..." the word "book" doesn't match his lips; "book" is dubbed over what looks to be "film." See more »


Doris: You have no values. With you its all nihilism, cynicism, sarcasm, and orgasm.
Harry Block: Hey, in France I could run for office with that slogan, and win!
See more »


References Bullets Over Broadway (1994) See more »


Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain
Written by Modest Mussorgsky
Performed by Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (as L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande)
Conducted by Ernest Ansermet
See more »

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User Reviews

Vulgar, funny, honest, sad, a little bizarre
3 March 1999 | by (Eastbourne, New Zealand) – See all my reviews

Woody bares his soul--again--and if the introspective vision of the sad clown (growing old) isn't what you're expecting, the film is likely to be a disappointment. The film is funny, of course, and vulgar (as most Allen movies are), but it's also bitter and cynical, and rather sad.

The jerky jump-cuts might be a stylized editing cover-up for jumping from take to take to utilise the best performances of a pantheon of actors, or they might be planned...I don't know. I had to see a few of them before I settled into accepting them as "the style", but I decided they work in this film.

Other "user comments" complain about Woody and the sexy young women. That bothers me in some films, but not here. Here it's part of Harry's character--part of Woody's "character"--and is clearly part of his problem.

I think this is an honest film, a sad and revealing film about one of the most clever and creative writers in America. It's funny, it's witty, and it's also depressing. It has moments of pure, laugh-out-loud humour (eg. the elevator going down to the bottom floor of hell; Harry arriving at the honouring ceremony with a dead body, a prostitute, and his "kidnapped" son in the car), but underneath it's the story of a man who cannot function happily in real life, only in the fictions he creates. Although fantasy plays a major role in the story, the story is not a fantasy. The parallels between Allen himself and the character and plot he's created here are obvious.

I enjoyed watching this video, and would recommend it-- selectively--to friends. If you like the Allen sense of humour, want to see a fairly unusual editing style used effectively, want to see some superb acting cameos by some very talented actors, or have an interest in the torments of a neurotic middle-aged genius and how they might be revealed on film, then you'll like this movie. If this doesn't sound like your kind of thing, watch something else.

28 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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