When I was a child I would often drive my mother crazy by re-watching a certain 1979 Edward Herman movie over and over again. It was a film that the NY Times neglected to mention in last week’s obituary of the veteran actor who died of brain cancer at the age of 71. However, that childhood favorite isn’t the only one the NY Times failed to mention.
In 1981, Herrmann also starred as Harry Johnson (ahem) in the madcap comedy Harry’s War. A B-movie about an average tax-paying American who is bequeathed control of his deceased aunt’s (played by Geraldine Page) property and must summarily defend it from being confiscated by the United States Internal Revenue Service over a technicality. Harry faces pushback from government administrators, news media, lawyers & judges, and of course, IRS agents. It all culminates in a full on military style assault on his aunt’s home in which Harry and his family defend to the bitter end.
I first discovered and watched this film about the same time the IRS scandal hit the news back in 2013. In that context, I completely ate up this movie. Sadly, this movie still works so well today and I’m afraid the plot may be tame by today’s standards. You can watch it for free on Amazon Prime if you have a membership, otherwise it is still absolutely worth the $2.99 and 100 minutes to see Edward Herrmann, in a world without Twitter, Facebook or YouTube, steal a tank and bust through the walls of a news station so he can get on the air and declare war on the IRS with the same fervor as your average passionate blogger.
Edward Herrmann also left behind a vast body of work that included roles in The Paper Chase, Reds, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Nixon, Aviator, and my personal childhood favorite, The North Avenue Irregulars and it’s demolition derby finale.