The story of Elwood P. Dowd who makes friends with a spirit taking the form of a human-sized rabbit named Harvey that only he sees (and a few privileged others on occasion also.) After his sister tries to commit him to a mental institution, a comedy of errors ensues. Elwood and Harvey become the catalysts for a family mending its wounds and for romance blossoming in unexpected places.
That damn 6ft 3" rabbit is as charming as ever.
Elwood P. Dowd is a charming harmless fella, he takes a drink or two for sure, but he's a delightful human being regardless. So why then does his sister want to have him committed to a home for the insane? Ah well you see, Elwood has an invisible friend who happens to be a six-foot-three rabbit!
Faithfully adapted by Mary Chase from her hit Broadway play, Harvey remains to this day a wonderful fantasy comedy that delights all members of the family. It's the kind of film that leaves a warm glow once the credits role, it's basic premise is one of fantastical whimsy as Elwood drives all around him to distraction with his discourse with the invisible Harvey. It's here that the film has a rather naughty streak because Elwood actually appears to be the only sane person on show, all around him is chaos, but he remains calm and completely at peace with his lot.
Starring as Elwood is James Stewart (Academy Award nominated), and it's a very special memorable performance as he carries off with ease the eccentric nature of the character. Stealing the show as Elwood's sister Veta, is Josephine Hull (Aademy Award winner best supporting actress}, completely flustered and effervescent with comic timing precision. Solid support comes from Peggy Dow (why didn't she do more movies?), Charles Drake and the always watchable Cecil Kellaway. The direction from Henry Koster I personally find uneven, at times too hectic when the magic moment has passed, it's as if he was caught between making a screwball comedy or just a basic fantastical one. I often wonder what Frank Capra could have done with this particular adaptation? Still, the film remains much beloved by many, and I'm certainly counting myself amongst that number.
Bless the pooka indeed. 8/10
Universal Pictures by Henry Koster, Mary Chase, Oscar Brodney, Myles Connolly.
Stars: James Stewart, Wallace Ford, William H. Lynn, Victoria Horne.
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Keywords: sibling relationship sanatorium rabbi imaginary friend mental institution police officer screwball comedy aunt nephew relationship commitment 1950s
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