Picks and Pans Review: Harry's War
For anyone who's been audited by the IRS, this film is sheer joy—or at least vicarious revenge. Karen Grassle, the wife of mailman Edward Herrmann, wants a divorce because he's not aggressive enough. Then, suddenly rejuvenated, he responds to a plea for help from an old friend, Geraldine Page, the delightfully daft owner of a dilapidated antique-cum-war-surplus shop. She's been audited and dunned for $ 190,000 in back taxes, because she has been taking charitable deductions for what she doles out to assorted oddball friends. In tax court, she offers no defense, and finally collapses and dies, leaving Herrmann her estate. When he finds his inheritance plastered with "U.S. Government Property" placards and his bank account attached for back taxes, he appeals to a wonderfully pompous IRS district director, David Ogden Stiers. Retorts Stiers: "I am the United States Treasury. What are you?" Herrmann declares war and, in one scene that audiences cheer aloud, drives a World War II armored car into a TV studio where Stiers is expounding on the joy of paying taxes. When the Feds besiege his property with enough tear gas, guns and ammunition to overrun a couple of battalions of tax rebels, the press arrives and Herrmann gives a speech via TV mini-cam, declaring, "Hitler would have loved the IRS." Those to whom the multiform horrors of April 15 are still fresh in the mind can only sympathize. (PG)
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