Friday, August 22, 2014

HARVEY (1950)

Fifty-one years before DONNIE DARKO, but more in spirit with YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU, HARVEY is the idealistic story of a wealthy man, Elwood P. Dowd (Jimmy Stewart), who lives in a small town and has a 6' 3.5" tall rabbit for a best friend.  The rabbits name is Harvey and they tell each other everything.  Thing is nobody else can see Harvey.  They're too busy with their lives and relationships and jobs.  They can be bothered to be born rich and crazy and spend their evenings walking around with a 6' 3.5" tall rabbit.  Elwood's sister, Veta (Josephine Hull), wants Elwood placed in a mental institution for his own good.  And so she and her daughter can get along with their lives and not have their social standing destroyed by having a screwball brother on full display.  That's easier said than done because it seems that everywhere Elwood goes people open up and really take a liking to him...it's almost as if he has an guardian angel watching over him.

As long as you accept HARVEY in it's own reality it's a fine film.  Of course, if you had somebody like Elwood P. Dowd living in your house you'd think he was as crazy as a loon.  But as a film, HARVEY is delightful.  The story is charming, Josephine Hull is hilarious, the story is imaginative, the dialogue is so much fun to watch spin round and round, solid direction, good pace, the camerawork is clever (I like how in a lot of shots there's extra space left for Harvey), excellent supporting cast and Jimmy Stewart...wow.  The wonderful Josephine Hull rightfully won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance here, but I'm very tempted to say that Mr. Stewart should have also won for his performance.  I can't think, off the top of my handsome head, of another actor that could have pulled off the role of Elwood P. Dowd as masterfully as he did.  Great stuff.

Recommended for the unjaded.