Harvey on DVD
An Inarguable Case of Haresee
Harvey is possibly the most famous movie character no one has ever seen.
He's a six foot plus invisible rabbit, of course, a mischievous sprite called
a pooka who chooses to hang around with amiable small town layabout Elwood P.
Dowd (James Stewart).
It's really Dowd's story, and that of his family who have been embarrassed
by this supposedly nonexistent vision one too many times and decide it's time
to put Elwood away for his (their) own good. Elwood's sister Veta Louise (Josephine
Hull, who won an Oscar for her performance) and her daughter Myrtle May (Victoria
Horne) are wannabe socialites, but every time they get a chance to try schmoozing
their way to the top of the society column Elwood and Harvey come along and
screw it up.
So they take him to Chumley's Rest, a nut house, to get him out of the way
so they can live their lives the way they want to.
Unfortunately for them, Harvey really does exist; he just doesn't choose to
show himself to anyone and everyone - and he has magical abilities that he puts
to use protecting Elwood from their plot.
Elwood, meanwhile, moves through life as if it were set to music. He's an easygoing,
amiable soul who likes to tipple and to socialize himself - and he's as happy
hobnobbing with ex-cons and reprobates as with the upper crust Veta and Myrtle
Mae so desperately want to rub shoulders.
Everyone thinks he's nuts because of Harvey, but they like him anyway and tolerate
Except at Chumley's Rest, where young Dr. Sanderson (Charles Drake) wants to
make a name for himself as a psychologist and Nurse Kelly (Peggy Dow) wants
to help him. Sanderson knows a loonie when he sees one, and so proceeds to commit
Veta, much to her chagrin.
This sets off a subplot involving threatened lawsuits, a blossoming romance
for Myrtle May with the sanitarium's muscle (Jesse White), and the shocking
discovery by none of than Doctor Chumley himself (Cecil Kellaway) of the truth
Harvey is a gentle comedy that'll make you laugh out loud, while rooting all
the way for Elwood and Harvey. The cast is perfect, particularly Stewart as
Dowd, in what he has said was one of his favorite roles. Most of the rest of
the cast spends much of the time running around waving their arms in the air,
figuratively, as they swirl around in the maelstrom of Elwood's wake, but they
do it extremely well.
The screenplay, co-written by Mary Chase, is based on her Pulitzer Prize winning
play, is charming.
The DVD kicks things off with a verbal introduction by the late James Stewart,
over a montage of photos from the film. This is accessible from the menu, but
the movie also starts off with it, which is kind of annoying (since we'd already
watched it via the menu). Fortunately, chapter skipping ahead gets you by it
quickly and painlessly and you're on to the fun.
The original full screen aspect ratio, black and white picture quality is excellent
and the monaural audio also sounds very good all things considered. We'd have
preferred a true mono signal, rather than 2.0 channel mono, but this isn't a
Other extras include the trailer as well as production notes and cast/filmmakers'
Harvey, from Universal Home Video
105 min. Full Screen (1.33:1) not enhanced 16x9 TV, Dolby Digital 2.0
Starring James Stewart, Josephine Hull, Charles Drake, Cecil Kellaway,
Jesse White, Victoria Horne, Wallace Ford and Peggy Dow
Produced by John Beck
Written by Mary Chase and Oscar Brodney, Directed by Henry Koster.
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