A new year begs for a new category focus and with my massive and comprehensive examination of the Miami Vice: The Complete Series DVD up this week it felt time to head back to the 80’s – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick! Going back to a decade with seemingly lighter and more out there film fare, we’re starting things off with a obtuse, but oh-so entertaining flick about a gaggle of guys who are hot to get their friend back – no matter what the cost. Filled with a notable cast, some great action and a director who at the last minute jumped ship, time to man up and dammit…Let’s Get Harry!
Harry Burck is a hard-working Aurora, Illinois engineer who is currently in Columbia overseeing the construction of a new pipeline and he’s about to go home. But when an American Ambassador visits in anticipation of the pipe’s opening, drug-dealing rebels surround the plant and Harry finds himself under siege. He’s kidnapped alongside Ambassador Douglas by drug lord Carlos Ochobar and held for ransom until the American government agrees to free Ochobar’s imprisoned cohorts. Back in Aurora Harry’s younger brother Corey and friends hear of the news and upon learning that the government has no intention of saving his ailing brother they decide to band together with a single motto – let’s get Harry.
Yes, this far-fetched flick has an obtuse 80’s premise of the regular guy getting the job done used in other movies like The Rescue, Toy Soldiers, Iron Eagle and Uncommon Valor, but frankly the film is still fun. Taking its band of merry misfits into the jungles of Columbia, the film never loses sight of its at times inane nature, but instead embraces it and packs it with plenty of colorful characters. Top of the board is rock-solid Robert Duvall, playing Shrike the quiet yet lethal mercenary the gang hires to help them. Sporting a bald head and plenty of back baggage, Duvall sets the tough guy tone and makes the unbelievable somehow believable. Of course his gun-shy gang is filled with every quirky character in the book to add to the amusement; Michael Schoeffling as Corey, Harry’s younger brother out to prove his worth, Glenn Fry as the coke-sniffing Spence, Thomas F. Wilson (Biff alert!) as the apprehensive Bob, Rick Rossovich as the cowardly Kurt and especially the great Gary Busey as Car salesman and avid game hunter “Smiling” Jack. All bring a uniqueness to the tall tale – humor and hubris rolled into a bigger than life burrito. (Yes, you will have to suspend some disbelief!) Director Stuart Rosenberg, the genius behind Cool Hand Luke and The Pope of Greenwich Village, has serious cred when it comes to large casts and with Let’s Get Harry it helps. His ability to bring out the individuality in even smaller characters is the films’ saving grace.
Unfortunately Rosenberg reportedly had issues with showing the character of Harry early on and when scenes were added demanded to have his name taken off the film. (Hence the Alan Smithee moniker!) But what’s strange about those scenes featuring a charismatic and defiant Mark Harmon as the steadfast Harry is that they perfectly set the rebellious tone for the film and thus make the assignment of the films’ gang of under-qualified chaps a tad easier to swallow. Ripe with 80’s bravado minus a modicum of common sense and successful mission qualifications, Let’s Get Harry nevertheless gets the job done.