Harry Petry (Hollywood Harry)

Created by Curt Allen

“Fast women, Hard Liquor. And a detective without a clue.”
— the tagline

“I am not a character out of a god damn book”.
— Harry gripes about his lot in life

The always reliable Robert Forster (Banyon, Jackie Brown, Karen Sisco, etc.) dishes out another solid performance, this time as Hollywood private eye HARRY PETRY in Hollywood Harry, a slight but affectionate low-budget 1985 parody of/tribute to old-fashioned romance, music, and especially detective films.

It’s a typical wandering daughter job, and the hapless, disillusioned, semi-alcoholic Harry staggers down all the usual mean streets looking for a missing teenage heiress on behalf of her father, a big shot hog farmer whose little darling recently appeared in an X-rated video. And just to confuse things, another runaway, the detective’s estranged teenage niece Danielle, shows up on Harry’s doorstep and wants in on the case, hoping to “help.”

It all seems rather heartfelt and personal, but ultimately, this episodic little mess of a B-flick is disappointing. Forster is, as always, compelling to watch (who knew he could dance?). But the film lacks focus. Was it homage? Parody? A comedy? A musical? It’s hard to tell.

Still, the man was born to play a P.I., and the downbeat, meandering not-quite-focussed plot does have its moments; sort of like a sporadically heard sax solo coming from somewhere around the corner in the middle of the night.

But it could have been so much more. Forster directed and produced (on his own dime) this lightweight trifle, and got to act alongside his daughter, Katherine, fourteen at the time. It was made during the long empty stretch of Forster’s wilderness years, caught between the days of his early TV success in shows like Banyon and Nakia, and his late-career rebirth as Max Cherry in Quentin Tarantino‘s Jackie Brown, which earned him an Oscar nom.


  • If you look closely, a publicity still from Forster’s 1972 TV show Banyon makes a cameo.


  • HOLLYWOOD HARRY | Buy this on VHS | Watch it now!
    (aka “Harry’s Kingdom, Harry’s Machine”)
    (1985, Starquilt)
    Tagline: “Four women. Hard liquor. And a private eye without a clue.”
    98 minutes
    Written by Curt Allen
    Directed by Robert Forster
    Music by Michael Lang
    Produced by Branimir Arandjelovich and Robert Forster
    Starring Robert Forster as HARRY PETRY
    and Kate Forster as Danielle Petry
    Also starring Joe Spinell, Shannon Wilcox, Peter Schrum, Redmond Gleeson, Frank X. Baleno, Leonard Bremen, Russell Cappellino, Suzanne Charney, Dallas Cole, Wynn Irwin, Mallie Jackson, Marji Martin, Read Morgan, Ronald Provenzano, Jacqueline Pulliam


  • July 17, 2021
    THE BOTTOM LINE: Robert Forster starred in & directed this vanity project—an ode to what he loved–during his wilderness years.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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