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Harvey

USA 1950
produced by
John Beck for Universal
directed by Henry Koster
starring James Stewart, Josephine Hull, Peggy Dow, Charles Drake, Cecil Kellaway, Victoria Horne, Jesse White, William H. Lynn, Wallace Ford, Nana Bryant, Grayce Mills, Clem Bevans, Minerva Urecal
screenplay by Mary Chase, Oscar Brodney, based on the play by Mary Chase, music by Frank Skinner

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Elwood (James Stewart) lives the happiest of lives: He lives in a big house, has a fortune and a half from his mother to never have to worry again, is a valued customer at all the bars in town, and he's got a friend, Harvey who shares everything with him and almost never leaves his side - and that drives his sister Veta (Josephine Hull) crazy. You see, Elwood lets Veta and her daughter Myrtle Mae (Victoria Horne) live under his roof out Charity, because their mother has left all her money to him, and yet Veta sees Elwood to be a liability ... because Harvey's a 6 foot 3 1/2 inches tall white rabbit - who's not even real. Yet with Elwood talking to his imaginary pal constantly, he's making the whole family the laughing stock of society and - at least in Veta's eyes - keeps Myrtle Mae from ever finding a suitable man. So ultimately, she tries to have Elwood committed to an asylum - but ends up in the asylum herself due to a mistake.

The mistake is quickly discovered, but by that time, Elwood is gone, and when the head of the asylum Dr Chumley (Cecil Kellaway) goes after him, he goes missing ... which leaves his second in command Dr Sanderson (Charles Drake) and his nurse Miss Kelly (Peggy Dow) to hit all the bars in town to find Chumley and Elwood. They do find Elwood, but he claims Chumley has taken off with Harvey. As they listen to Elwood, Sanderson and Kelly don't only begin to understand him as not a madman but an eccentric who wants to do good, but also discover their love for one another. Ultimately, he agrees to return to the asylum with them with no objection.

Chumley in the meantime has begun to see Harvey, who might not be a figment of Elwood's imagination at all but a celtic animal spirit (or maybe just a metaphor of course), and now he refuses to accept Elwood in the asylum but asks him to leave Harvey with him. Veta though insists that Elwood is treated, so Sanderson agrees to give him a powerful sedative - and when Elwood sees how much his behaviour has distressed Veta, he even agrees ... but in the very last moment, Veta realizes that then Elwood would become as boring and obnoxious as everybody else (including herself, who seems to be taking pills and potions for and against everything), and she saves him from the needle. And pretty much as a thank you she learns that Myrtle Mae has finally found a man she wants to spend her life with - sure, he's only a male nurse (Jesse White) at the asylum, but she loves him dearly ...

 

Harvey is of the rare breed of "comedies with heart" that are genuinely funny (despite quite a few saccharine-sweet scenes) and carries the right message (about the importance of individuality) at the same time. Much of this is thanks to the script that time and again counterpoints its cheesier scenes with good punchlines, features some great dialogue and characters, keeps things light-footed and floating at a steady pace. Now add to this a great cast led by James Stewart giving one of his best performances, and an elegant direction that avoids being glossy on one hand, going for cheap jokes on the other, and you've got yourself one great movie that has deservedly become a comedy classic.

Recommended!

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD