The Farce Racket
Adam Worth (Michael Caine) has a nice little racket going; he robs a bank, hands back the securities for a percentage, keeps the cash and cuts the bank manager in so that there isn't any repercussions. But unfortunately manager of the "Lowell Bank and Trust" Rufus T. Crisp (Charles Durning) does the dirty on Adam and has him arrested leading to him being thrown in prison. He finds himself in a cell with vaudeville performers and minor hustlers Harry Dighby (James Caan) and Walter Hill (Elliott Gould) who discover that Adam has the blueprints for the new "Lowell Bank and Trust". When they decide to steal them and rob the bank before Adam can get out and do it himself it leads to a farce as the dapper Adam come after the inept duo.
Oh look there's Burt Young and look there's Charles Durning and who is that I can see it's Carol Kane. I could go on because beyond its lead cast of James Caan, Elliott Gould and Michael Caine "Harry and Walter Go to New York" has an astonishingly good supporting cast. It is one of the good things about the movie because you are never far away from a familiar face even if some of the performances are best forgotten about.
What "Harry and Walter Go to New York" has going for it is an amusingly daft storyline which sees the dapper Adam Worth living it up in prison with the finest food and even the prison staff running around at his beck and call. Throw in Harry and Walter as inept hustlers who try to out fox the foxy Adam and you haven't got the bad basis for a comedy heist movie heavy in slapstick.
Unfortunately the final product whilst having some slapstick is shockingly short on jokes or at least jokes which are funny. Time and again I found myself waiting for something funny to happen and time and again nothing came. It is the reason as to why "Harry and Walter Go to New York" is not better known and why evidently back on its release it didn't do very well with the critics.
What this all boils down to is that "Harry and Walter Go to New York" looks like on paper one of those movies which seems a dead cert to be good but ironically ends up surprisingly disappointing with barely a decent joke in the entire movie.