MovieChat Forums > Harry and Tonto (1974) Discussion > Harry's reaction to Tonto's death

Harry's reaction to Tonto's death


For someone who talked to his cat all the time, as if it were human and also spent a lot of time with his cat, Harry didn't really appear very upset when his beloved cat passes away! He didn't shed one tear and just walked away so easily. This scene should have been done differently, with Harry at least showing some emotion after the death of his best friend!

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I think you could see emotion in Harry's "reduced" emotional state and quietness.

I also think this is one of those scenes where the writer-director(Paul Mazursky), knew that the audience would be crying anyway and would "fill in the emotional gap."

It can be a very effective way to film sad scenes...

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I think it should have been done differently. I always cry when something very sad happens in a movie but this one didn't have an effect on me.

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For someone who talked to his cat all the time, as if it were human and also spent a lot of time with his cat, Harry didn't really appear very upset when his beloved cat passes away! He didn't shed one tear and just walked away so easily. This scene should have been done differently, with Harry at least showing some emotion after the death of his best friend!
I hear that Art Carney actually teared up when filming it.

Oh Lord, you gave them eyes but they cannot see...

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Harry starts out as we all tend to, resisting changes, newness, things to come. This film is also a "coming of age" film, where the character finds peace within himself and his place in a world that stops for nobody and nothing. Note that early in the film the cops have to carry him bodily out of his apartment... that's how invested Harry is in things remaining the same.

By the end of the film, after seeing the old fade away and the new ever evolving, Harry has gained acceptance. "Goodbye, old friend" is as much a "thanks for the good times, pal" as you're likely to see in film. Overt mourning would have cheapened the scene and driven the film off its path. "I'm into Zen these days" is Harry's way of telling us it's all right. For him and for us. That we can accept what happens, what opportunities arise, what vicissitudes beset us.

He shows us with Tonto's passing as well as tells us with the cat lady.

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