Find the list here: The Top 250 Films List Total Films Watched: 250/250

Friday, 22 February 2013

#230 - 'Harvey' (1950)

"Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me." - Elwood P. Dowd.
Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) is a friendly, happy-go-lucky man whose best friend is a spirit that takes the form of a six foot white rabbit. He lives with his sister, Vita (Josephine Hull), and his niece, Myrtle Mae (Victoria Horne) who try to avoid all mention of Harvey. Vita is throwing a party and dosen't want Elwood there to frighten off the guests. When he unexpectedly turns up and introduces everyone to Harvey, Vita decides to try and send Elwood to an institution to try and help him with his problem. A comedy of errors follows as Dr. Sanderson (Charles Drake) and Miss Kelly (Peggy Dow) let Elwood go, taking in someone else.
Miss Kelly, Elwood and Dr. Sanderson.
Stewart's Elwood was a likeable character. His insistence on introducing himself with his card and inviting every man and his dog to dinner with him was charming. On top of this, his eagerness to introduce his good friend Harvey to people was also nice, however the responses he got from others differed. Elwood does seem to live in a world of his own but that's what makes him so unique. His outlook on life is great. The scene where he is repeatedly trying to introduce Harvey to Miss Kelly and Dr. Sanderson, only to keep getting interrupted at the vital moment, is funny and sweet. Elwood's little looks towards the empty chair and a little nudge of the shoulder were endearing.
Elwood and Harvey.
There is one scene where Elwood brings in a portrait of himself and Harvey, placing it in front of a portait of his mother. Later on, Vita is in the same room talking to a doctor who asks her about the portrait. Vita obviously hasn't seen the new addition and begins to describe the unseen painting of her mother. It was a simple visual gag but worked really well and was one of quite a few little moments that made me smile.
The terrifying portrait.
I liked this film a lot. It was humourous, sad, and sweet. The development of Elwood's character through the film and particularly the development of people's opinion of him, was an interesting and enjoyable narrative. I also love the fact that Harvey was credited 'as himself' at the end!

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