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Mrs. Harris (2005)

TV-MA | | Drama | TV Movie 25 February 2006
Based on the sensational 1980s media event, famed cardiologist Herman Tarnower meets a particularly brutal end at the hands of his jilted lover, Jean Harris.

Director:

Phyllis Nagy

Writers:

Shana Alexander (book), Phyllis Nagy (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. Another 6 wins & 32 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Annette Bening ... Jean Harris
Ben Kingsley ... Herman Tarnower
Cloris Leachman ... Pearl 'Billie' Schwartz - Tarnower's Sister
Lawrence O'Donnell ... Judge Leggett (as Lawrence O'Donnell Jr.)
Frank Whaley ... George Bolen
Bill Smitrovich ... Joel Arnou
Frances Fisher ... Marge Richey Jacobson
Michael Gross ... Leslie Jacobson
Ronald Guttman ... Henri
John Patrick Amedori ... Young David Harris
Brad McCoy ... Young Jimmy Harris
John Rubinstein ... Tarnower's Best Friend
Brett Butler ... Tarnower Ex #1
Lee Garlington ... Tarnower's Ex #2
Ellen Burstyn ... Former Tarnower Steady
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Storyline

Fact-based story about Jean Harris (Annette Bening), a woman who was accused of murdering famed Scarsdale Diet Dr. Herman (Hi) Tarnower (Ben Kingsley) after being in a relationship with him for 14 years. Depicted as a womanizer, Dr. Tarnower had earlier asked Mrs. Harris, a divorced school teacher, to marry him. But when faced with upcoming nuptials, he backed out. The story depicts Mrs. Harris as a distraught and obsessive woman who may have been suffering from some mental illness and based on a note sent to the doctor, may have been suicidal at the time of the murder. She contended that Dr. Tarnower was shot while the two wrestled with a gun she was going to use to kill herself. Contains profanity and sexual situations, including implied masturbation. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She Loved Him, So She Shot Him.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

TV-MA | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

HBO [United States]

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 February 2006 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Doamna Harris See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Ben Kingsley, Ellen Burstyn and Cloris Leachman; and three Oscar nominees: Annette Bening, Mary McDonnell and Chloë Sevigny. See more »

Quotes

Jean Harris: I realize that you are just a secretary and weren't as fortunate as I in graduating magna cum laude from Smith, but surely any well-read 10-year-old knows the meaning of the word "bizarre".
See more »

Connections

Featured in 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Put The Blame On Mame
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great performances and accuracy.
1 March 2006 | by ecalantoniSee all my reviews

Having read Jean Harris' autobiography, as well as other materials on this case, I thought Annette Bening's portrayal of Jean Harris was excellent. She was Jean Harris. Ben Kingsley's performance was also excellent--he was given little to work with beyond witty/smug remarks/situations yet to his credit he was able to exude the charm that Tarnower reportedly had, and the chemistry between the Tarnower and Harris was obvious, which made their connection believable. I was drawn to this movie as a fan of both Bening and Kinglsey, and the chemistry between these two very charismatic actors did not disappoint.

What was bothersome was that the film seemed to fluctuate between serious drama and intentional camp. This made it difficult to get too involved in the story or feel empathy for the characters, which is often what people look for in a film of this genre. Even the soundtrack (which was excellent on its own) was used to this end—just when I was getting drawn into Harris' "withdrawal-induced perspective, a pop song from the 70's (was it Bread?) pulled me right out of it. But the more I thought about it (and read some viewer comments on this site) the more appropriate this approach felt. After all, the whole appeal of this story to the public was that a highly successful physician and the Headmistress of a prestigious boarding school were involved in a rather tawdry situation. Two highly educated, superior-acting, society folks who took themselves *way* too seriously were involved in affairs, drugs and cheap catfights. If the shooting scene at the beginning of the film seemed ridiculous and unbelievable, well, that was exactly how Jean Harris described the events herself. So after much consideration, I think that some aspects of the film that other viewers here have criticized were perhaps an effort by the filmmakers to underscore the absurd in this story. This makes "Mrs. Harris" not the typical murder drama/documentary and definitely worth seeing.

So comes down to this: Great cast, great performances (the cameo performances as well) and it accurately portrays the complexities of the situations and the people involved in this story. It is also somewhat disturbing--you won't leave with a feeling that justice was necessarily served, or that anything was really resolved, or with any sense of empathy for the characters. But hey, that's what happens in real life.


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