[Movie Review] Harvey (1950)

harvey 2

Wabbit Season

Harvey had been on my ol’ bucket list forever.  And I was really curious about how it would work as the premise, a man who is best friends with a 6′-3″ rabbit no one but him can see or talk to, is a bit wack-o.  Also, Jimmy Stewart would talked Harvey up in interviews as he would claim how it was the personal favorite he was part of.  That is saying a lot considering he was in a few of Hitchcock’s best.  Well, Harvey delivered even with the bar set high.

Jimmy plays Elwood P. Dowd, a middle-aged man who lives off an inheritance from his deceased parent’s fortune.  Elwood is the “useless” town eccentic who regularly converses with his best friend, Harvey, a Pooka who has the appearce of a giant rabbit to those who are able to see him.

Elwood spends most of his time at the local bar, drinking and introducing people to Harvey.  This makes life difficult for Elwood’s sister, Veta Louise Simmons (Josephine Hull) and niece Myrtle Mae (Victoria Horne), who both crave a normal life among the local socialites.  The rift between the brother and sister come to a head after a party thrown by Veta is wrecked by Elwood’s desire for everyone to meet Harvey, and she calls an asylum to have him comitted.

But getting rid of Harvey isn’t going to be that easy.  Elwood’s unwitting charm confuses most of the hospital staff, including the head phsytrist, who either do not see or understand the problem.  And the attempt, if anything, only raises more questions.  Can Elwood be cured of believing in Harvey?  If so, is it even worth doing it?  And, is there any chance that Harvey does exist?

While the characters are questioning if they should get rid of Harvey, the film rhetorically asks the audience about the things we consider important.  It never supplies an answer, but lets you think of an ideal one for yourself.  But you don’t need to get that heady, as the film is is enjoyable as a light, whimsical fantasy.

Josephine Hull won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performace here, and it is easy to see why.  Sure, she had the benefit of playing her role on stage for  years for starring in this film, but her performance was train that never stopped and it was deserving of the recognition.

Harvey felt like the ’50s version of Forest Gump to me, and I mean that as a compliment.



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