Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Harvey (1950)

Synopsis: Honest heir helps hopeless, hoists hooch, hears (hallucinates?) humongous hare, Harvey.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “James Stewart stars as the good-natured Elwood P. Dowd, whose constant companion is Harvey, a six-foot tall rabbit that only he can see.”

What Did I Learn?: If you want to have a relative committed to the nuthouse, it’s a really bad idea to seem hysterical, and admit to occasionally seeing hallucinations yourself when you speak to the psychiatrist on duty.  

You Might Like This Movie If: You know that Harvey is...something special. (This could be the single worst version of “Tears of a Clown” I’ve ever heard)

Really?: 1) Aside from seeing a giant rabbit, Elwood seems like a pretty reasonable guy. Even if he thinks Harvey is real, I’m guessing it must have occurred to Elwood that people react rather oddly when he introduces them to his big buddy. Why would he knowingly look insane to the outside world? 2) I had a bit of trouble believing Dowd’s sour niece, who said she wanted to meet a rich young man, would fall for the goon orderly from the asylum.

Rating: I wasn’t sure I’d like this film before I pressed the PLAY button, but Harvey kind of grew on me - it’s a sweet and gentle comedy with a surprisingly clever message, and Elwood Dowd was actually Jimmy Stewart’s favourite role. It’s also difficult to imagine a modern-day remake, because: a) I think the last sympathetic portrayal of a drunk was Dudley Moore’s Arthur, and he sobered up in the sequel, and b) Disney, or another studio would almost certainly insist on creating a CGI version of the rabbit for marketing purposes. Part of this movie’s appeal is that you’re never entirely sure if Dowd is cuckoo or not until the very end. 7.5/10 stars.

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