- Limited Release in United States December 24, 1997

-Expanded Release in United States January 9, 1998

-Budget: $20 Million, Gross: 10.5 Million [1]

-Production Co: Sweetland Films

-Distributor: Fineline Features (New Line)

-Runtime: 96 min [1]

-Rated R

-Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1

-Deconstructing Harry turned out to be Woody’s most controversial film since Stardust Memories, primarily owing to the number of film critics and moviegoers it managed to offend. [3]


-In The New York Times, Molly Haskell described the picture as “one long diatribe against women, wives, and Jews.” [3]


-Female audiences in particular tended to recoil from Woody’s new screen persona, namely the horny senior citizen who becomes involved with pretty young women played by Elisabeth Shue and Julia Roberts. [3]


-A disgusted Los Angeles Times columnist wondered how many people would want to see Joan Rivers write, direct and star in movie after movie in which she indulged in sexual liaisons with sexy young men? [3]


"His new movie is vulgar, smutty, profane, self-hating, self-justifying, self-involved, tasteless, bankrupt and desperate, I've read. Even the kinder reviews turn sour. Here's a quote from David Edelstein of Slate: "The result is more rambunctious--and more fun--than any movie he has made in years. What puzzles me is why it still adds up to something so anemic and coldly distasteful.'' When a film makes me laugh and then I learn that it's vulgar, I'm reminded of Mel Brooks' defense of "The Producers" (1968): "My film rises below vulgarity." -Roger Ebert


That's the "Deconstructing Harry" defense; there is hardly a criticism that can be thrown at Allen that he hasn't already thrown at himself (or his alter ego) in the film. This is in many ways his most revealing film, his most painful, and if it also contains more than his usual quotient of big laughs, what was it the man said? "We laugh, that we may not cry.''  -Roger Ebert


-In a 1997 interview about Deconstructing Harry, Woody Allen said “it’s about a nasty, shallow, superficial, sexually obsessed writer, so of course everyone’s going to think it’s about me.” His weary sarcasm proved prescient: people did think it was about him. It’s hard not to, as this is a movie that captures and exaggerates many of the worst things people have long thought about Allen. [2]


-This extraordinary departure from his neurotic but engaging screen persona was calculated to draw a younger, hipper generation of moviegoers, who, in Jena Doumanian’s words, finally “got a film out of Woody they can identify with. [3]

"Deconstructing Harry " Screening Companion



-In addition to Elliot Gould and Dennis Hopper, the part of Harry Block was also offered to Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman and Albert Brooks. All of them were either unavailable or wanted too much money. With two weeks left until shooting, Allen gave up and decided to just play the part himself. [2]


-Albert Brooks was the last actor to be offered the role of Harry. In an interview with Playboy magazine, he stated that he received a nice letter from Woody Allen offering him the role. Brooks responded, "It was insane that [Allen] didn't do it himself." Apparently, Woody took his advice. [1]


-Woody Allen based Harry's trip on Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries. [1]


-A lot of reviews speculate that Harry Block was based on Philip Roth, although Allen has never mentioned that. He’s presumably familiar with him, however, as Roth’s wife, Claire Bloom, has acted in three Woody Allen movies. [2]


-Jennifer Garner's feature film debut. [1]

- Woody Allen initially conceived this movie as a way of off-loading miscellaneous half-finished stories and ideas that lacked the depth to be full movies — for example, the out-of-focus man, Death coming for the wrong person, etc. [2]


-The film opened the 1997 Venice Film Festival. [1]


-Max Chalawsky supposedly played Mendel Birnbaum in this film, but he was not seen anywhere in the print. [1]


-One of 2 1997 films to star Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the other being Fathers' Day. [1]


-Elisabeth Röhm's (uncredited) film debut. [1]


- This is Woody Allen’s last movie with cinematographer Carlo Di Palma, who he’d worked with on nearly all of his movies since Hannah and her Sisters (1986). [2]


- Julie Kavner, who has been in more Woody Allen movies than anyone other than Mia Farrow or Diane Keaton, makes the last of her seven appearances (to date). [2]

Critical Reception


-I was excited for Deconstructing Harry, but quickly disappointed as I got into it. It’s darker, fouler and possibly more personal than Stardust, but lacks its wit and beauty. There’s indisputably a fresh look at Allen’s psyche buried somewhere within, but as a movie, Deconstructing Harry is resigned and pointlessly misanthropic. Had it been made by someone I didn’t have a vested interest in, I would probably have forgotten it moments after it ended. [2]


-David Luty for Film Journal International wrote, “Certainly a mark above Allen’s most recent work – it’s refreshing to see an artist spreading his wings this wide.”


-After starting his career with 20+ PG movies, I don’t know if he’ll ever be able to talk this way and not have it sound forced and awkward. In Deconstructing Harry, his dirty talk just comes across as a desperate plea for renewed relevance. [2]


-Woody Allen’s ‘90s comedies have been enjoyable, but there’s a “gimmick of the week” trend that’s beginning to emerge. Each year, Allen infuses an otherwise straightforward movie with a new gimmick — Mighty Aphrodite had its Greek chorus, Everyone Says I Love You had its musical numbers, and Deconstructing Harry has its crossover characters. [2]


-Here’s a guy who had been blasted in the press for sexual deviancy,” said Neil Rosen. “Instead of defending himself, he said ‘Look, I pay hookers, I’m everything they said I was.’ He’s not an idiot, he knew parallels would be drawn between Harry and himself. But he didn’t back away. That was very courageous.” [3]


- This movie got Woody Allen yet another Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination. [2]


- 71% Rotten Tomatoes rating

[1] - imdb.com

[2] - www.EveryWoodyAllenMovie.com

[3] - The Unruly Life of Woody Allen by Marion Meade