Deconstructing Harry (1997): Woody Allen’s Nasty, Foul-Mouthed Comedy

New Line/Fine Line

In his new, nasty comedy, “Deconstructing Harry,”Woody Allen plays Harry Block, a foul-mouthed, eccentric author who’s despised by all around him.

The list of complaints and charges against him is endless.  His ex-wives and mistresses resent his constant lying, philandering, unreliablity—they claim he lacks any ethics or morals.  His family objects to the way he’s been using, abusing and manipulating them to serve his own causes and his personal welfare.

Despite being a middle-age man (Allen was 62 when he played the role), Harry has never really grown up.  Though benefiting from an established reputation as a novelist, Harry has already spent the latest advance from his publisher without writing a single word.

He’s been married, but continues to be a womanizer who’s obsessed with sex.  We learn that while in therapy, he married one of his psychologists but he marriage ended just as the previous ones.

The tale revolves around a workable gimmick.  Harry is on his way to Adair College to receive a life achievement award. Nervous, he needs a companion to travel with him.  But who will he take? Harry’s latest girlfriend Fay has chosen this moment to marry his best friend Larry, while another, presumably close friend, Richard, had suffered heart attack and can’t make the trip either.  Moreover, despite his wish to have his son Hilly see him is denied by the refusal of the boy’s psychiatrist mother to let him attend the ceremony.

Meanwhile, Lucy, Block’s former sister in-law, is furious that Harry has, in his latest book, described, in vivid detail, their clandestine relationship.




Oscar Nominations:

Original Screenplay: Woody Allen

Oscar Awards: None



Oscar Context:




The winners of the Original Screenplay Oscar were Ben Affleck and Matt Damon for “Good Will Hunting.”




The other nomineess were: James L. Brooks for “As Good As It Gets,” Paul Thomas Anderson for “Boogie Nights,” and the British comedy, “The Full Monty.”








Harry Block (Woody Allen)


Doris (Caroline Aaron)


Joan Block (Kirstie Alley)


Richard (Bob Balaban)


Ken (Richard Benjamin)


Burt (Eric Bogosian)


Satan/Larry (Billy Crystal)








Produced by Jean Doumanian


Directed and written by Woody Allen


Camera: Carlo Di Palma


Editor: Susan E. Morse


Production Design: Santo Loquasto


Costumes: Suzy Benzinger




Running Time: 95 Minutes






Box-Office: $10,686,841