Unexpectedly different mystery comedy from the Master
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 10/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hitchcock was hardly a one-note director. He functioned in a variety of modes, and while the various films he made possessed a family resemblance to one another, they are not monolithically the same. If one only allows him or herself to enjoy the out-and-out suspense films like NORTH BY NORTHWEST or STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, this could very possibly be a film that will not bring pleasure or enjoyment. But if, instead, the viewer is able to be open to something a little bit different, this film can be a source of unexpected delight.
I first saw this film as part of the revival of the "Five Missing Hitchcock" Films in the early 1980s, the others being THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (the Jimmy Stewart version), REAR WINDOW, ROPE, and VERTIGO. While VERTIGO and REAR WINDOW were the two films causing the biggest stir, I was pleasantly surprised by THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY. Hitchcock has always vacillated between comedy and suspense, with some films containing more, and others less, of the former. Except for MR. AND MRS. SMITH, however, this film comes the closest of any of his films to pure comedy.
The trouble with Harry, of course, is that he is dead and won't stay buried. The other trouble is that a vast number of individuals may have had a motive for killing him. But how and why he died is decidedly unimportant. Instead, his corpse provides the basis for a series of mildly complicated situations, as his body is shifted and moved and brooded over.
This movie was the extraordinarily cute Shirley MacLaine's film debut, and she is enormously fetching in it. John Forsythe plays the male lead, but the woodenness of his performance mars his performance somewhat (for the uninitiated, he later was the voice of "Charlie" on CHARLIE'S ANGELS). Several reviewers have noted the presence of the Beaver, Jerry Mathers. Edmund Gwenn, who as he often does, nearly steals the film as Captain Wiles, appears here in his first Hitchcock film since portraying incongruously but magnificently an assassin in FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT in 1940.
Hitchcock filmed THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY on location in Vermont, the most recognizable shots being in one of my favorite towns in America: Craftsbury. I have stayed in inns in Craftsbury on three separate occasions during the fall foliage season (this film was shot with the leaves changing), and I can testify that it is every bit as lovely, albeit a touch more developed, as it appears in this film.
By the way, I'm in love with Harry's tie. The fifties was probably the best decade for ties, with wonderful designs.
This film isn't for everyone, but if you are willing to be flexible, and not be disappointed when this turns out not to be REBECCA or THE BIRDS, then I think most viewers will find a great deal to enjoy and smile about."
Delicious Hitchcock black comedy
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 07/28/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY was a radical departure for Hitchcock, and proved to be a lukewarm success with audiences. Upon re-examination, we can see some of the magic that Hitchcock was trying to achieve with this delicious black comedy.Set in the colorful expanse of New England in the glowing hues of autumn, the story is about the troublesome corpse, Harry. Everyone in the sleepy locale believes that he or she may have had a hand in bringing about his demise, but no-one really cares what happens to him. His nonchalant wife (Shirley MacLaine) is already flirting with the handsome artist (John Forsythe) and the rest of the "suspects" also have more important things on their minds. But Harry has a way of popping up...in the most improper of places and circumstances!Shirley MacLaine made her auspicious film debut inn the role of Harry's wife (after being spotted subbing for Carol Haney in a performance of Broadway's "The Pajama Game"). Her performance shows what greatness was to follow (acclaimed, award-winning and nominated performances in THE TURNING POINT, TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, STEEL MAGNOLIAS, IRMA LA DOUCE and THE APARTMENT).Mildred Natwick and Edmund Gwenn, as the older lovers, are fantastic and give sly, comedic performances. The film also featuresc a pre-"Leave It To Beaver" Jerry Mathers.The DVD includes the featurette "The Trouble with Harry Isn't Over", the trailer and art gallery."
The Trouble with the DVD
jockomonticello | West Coast US | 05/22/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The transfer itself is pretty great, although they could have managed to touch up a few pretty obvious scratches. The film itself is funny, made more so by the knowledge the viewer has that Hitch is pulling the strings. But John Forsythe's lead performance and some weak early scenes involving him and Shirley MacLaine keep it from being one of the master's strongest outings (which of course still makes it superior to most). My real problem with the DVD are the extras. They just seem sloppy and tossed together. The "theatrical trailer" is actually a bad circa 85 ad for the MCA release of the VHS with the most cheesy voiceover. The recommendations section includes a listing for "The Torn Curtain". And the documentary is put together in such a slipshod manner that it mentions Edmund Gwynn once, and only in passing, to say that it was a good cast. Wondering about Mildred Natwick? You won't get any information here -- she doesn't even merit a mention in the Cast and Filmmakers section. In fact, more time is spent on the actor who "played" Harry rather than any other actor save Forsythe and MacLaine. And, by the way, what's Shirley MacLaine doing that's so important that she can't sit down for an interview? The only real positive about the doc is that it devotes a section to Bernard Herrmann."
Offbeat but wonderful Hitchcock
reader 1001 | 11/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Shot in a blaze of Autumn colors in Barre and Craftsbury Common Vermont, "Harry" is Hitchcock's black comedy. The story opens with young Arnie Rogers ("The Beaver" Jerry Mathers) discovering a corpse lying in a open field. He runs home tells his air-head mother Jennifer (Shirley MacLaine) what he found. Jennifer thinks she did Harry in, but so does Captain Wiles (Edmund Gwenn) and Ivy Gravely (Mildred Natwick) and as a result, Harry gets buried and dug up so many times we lose track. The film is about how these diffident denizens of a small Vermont town relate, gradually revealing more and more about themselves. The dialog is wonderful, but you have to like films that move slowly with lots of conversation, if you do, you will love "Harry." The photography is magnificent, the beauty of Vermont pours through. Vermont still looks just like it did when "Harry" was filmed, fantastic."