Who is Harry Kellerman and Why is He Saying those Terrible Things about Me? (1971)

Article 4495 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-5-2014
Directed by Ulu Grosbard
Featuring Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Harris, Jack Warden
Country: USA
What it is: Comedy/Drama

A self-involved successful songwriter suffers from a bad case of insomnia, and finds himself exploring his past relationships, and wondering about the identity of the man who is calling his girlfriends and destroying the relationships.

Let’s get the fantastic content out of the way first. There are several fantasy sequences in this movie, which can be explained as being a result of the main character’s sleep deprivation-induced hallucinations. That being said, this is an art movie of sorts, and it does get rather tiresome at times, but there are compensating factors. First of all, it has a sense of humor, which helps quite a bit. Second, it has an interesting array of names in the supporting cast, including Jack Warden (who appears in several different guises as the songwriter’s shrink), Dom DeLuise, Shel Silverstein (who wrote some of the original songs for the movie), and former Bowery Boy Gabriel Dell. It’s also very well acted, with an especially fine performance by Barbara Harris as a girlfriend who is even more screwed up than the main character. The movie has definite points of interest, but it sometimes feels self-indulgent, and I’m not sure I got a whole lot out of the movie. I was also able to figure out the answer to the titular question long before the movie does.

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