(1969)4Mark DemingWriter/director Michael Roemer made The Plot Against Harry in 1969, but preview audiences didn't respond to the film, and distributors were puzzled by it, so it sat on the shelf until it found an audience at film festivals 20 years later. It's a comedy that rarely announces itself as such, its tone so deadpan that viewers may be unsure what sort of film they're watching. But, if you slip into the film's subtle rhythms, you may find yourself laughing heartily throughout; Roemer's wit may be low-key, but it's intelligent and effective, with such amusing details as a beautifully tacky fashion show, a party on a subway train, a perfectly catered bar mitzvah, and a child playing with cheesecake photos of his suburban mother. Martin Priest is perfect as the put-upon Harry, one part wiseguy and two parts shnook, with strong support from Henry Nemo as his loyal but dim sidekick and Ben Lang as his brother-in-law, who can face any crisis with a smile and a shrug; sadly, all three actors rarely worked in movies after this. The film's New York locations may date it visually, but it still feels fresh and vital. It's a comedy less about gags than about characters and the strange situations that fate throws them into; if Harry Plotnick's life seems like the butt of a joke, Roemer knows how to make that joke worth hearing.