Review #15 Harvey (1950)

Directed by- Henry Koster

Starring- James Stewart, Josephine Hull and Peggy Dow

There’s something about watching black and white movies these days that makes life seem so much simpler. I’m not an expert, but acting has changed over the past 50/60 years, and I find it’s a unique treat to watch an old movie with classic actors like James Stewart or (not that he’s in this one) Cary Grant.

Harvey is a delightful story about a gentleman, Elwood P. Dodd, who lives with his sister and her daughter, and his 6 foot 3 inches tall (to be precise) imaginary white rabbit friend, Harvey. Veta, Elwood’s sister, and Myrtle Mae, his niece, are tired of how he acts and are especially fed up of amusing him when it comes to Harvey. He is a drinker who frequents several bars with Harvey, opening doors for him and pulling up chairs for him. However, after Veta and Myrtle Mae throw a party as an attempt to find a husband for Myrtle, Elwood walks in an introduces the mothers of possible suitors to Harvey, causing them to leave in a hurry. So, with a heavy heart, Veta takes Elwood to a sanatorium.

This film is truly charming, and I won’t reveal too much about the ending as there’s a bit of a twist, but it asks some thought-provoking questions. Just because you can’t see something- does that mean it isn’t there? Elwood is a sympathetic character, more so apparently, than he comes across in the stage production. He means well, genuinely well, and is one of those people who is good on the inside. He tries to strike up friendships with everyone he meets, even though they seem hostile to Harvey.

His niece Myrtle Mae is pretty annoying to be honest, but I think that’s her role in this, and can we really blame her? Her seemingly crazy uncle is single-handedly (well, double-handedly if you count Harvey) driving away any chance she has of finding a husband. Veta is less annoying and is at her wit’s end with what to do about her little brother, and she begins to realize, that perhaps having Harvey isn’t so bad, as long as Elwood is happy.


I’d like to finish this review with a charming little quote from the movie:

‘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. Dodd


Four stars.