Wednesday, October 16, 2019


Continuing to get through the backlog of movies I've got on my DVR, I watched Harvey over the weekend.

James Stewart playd Elwood Dowd, who lives with his widowed sister Veta (Josephine Hull) and her daughter Myrtle Mae (Victorie Horne). Both of them are quite embarrassed by Elwood's presence, because he keeps talking to something that he claims is a giant rabbit named Harvey that befriended him, but that nobody else can see or hear. (And apparently it takes up space, although nobody ever tried to take Harvey's personal space when, for example, he's sitting on a bar stool.)

At any rate, Veta has finally had it after Elwood finally screws up a big soiree that she's hosting. So she's contacted the executor of the family's trust, Judge Gaffney (William Lynn) to get Elwood committed to Dr. Chumley's (Cecil Kellaway) sanitarium. However, it's not going to be so easy, in part because although Elwood certainly seems touched in the head to anybody who watches, he's also so nice by nature that everybody seems charmed by him when he's not even trying to manipulate people.

It's not going to be that easy, however, because Veta is high-strung herself. Part of it may have to do with having had to put up with Elwood and his antics all these years, but part of it is definitely that she's an annyoing, pushy person. So when she talks to Chumley's assistant Dr. Sanderson, he assumes that she's being manipulative and trying to have Elwood wrongly committed so she can get the house which is in Elwood's name alone. Sanderson responds to all this by having Veta committed.

This displeases Chumley to no end, and in the resulting confusion, Elwood is able to get off the grounds of the sanitarium and back into town. Sanderson and his long-suffering nurse girlfriend Miss Kelly (Peggy Dow) go looking for Elwood. Along the way, everyone is changed by the presence of Elwood and the does-he-or-doesn't-he-exist Harvey.

Harvey is one of those movies that rightly, I think, gets praised, but that I do have some problems with, mostly because I find both of the main characters dislikable. Stewart is playing a man-child who really needs to have some sense smacked into him, while Josephine Hull (who won the Oscar) is often too obnoxious. One gets the feeling Veta was always this way and Elwood decided to act the way he does as a response. The change in Chumley's character is also one that struck me as unrealistic.

Still, Harvey is one of those movies that I think everybody needs to see. And, a lot of you will probably like it more than I did. It's available on DVD should you want to watch for yourself.

1 comment:

Tom said...

I always find Stewart's talking to the rabbit and the aunt's reactions/expressions amusing. Haven't seen the movie in a long time, and forgot about the other supporting characters and what they do; may need to watch this again.