on 6 October 2000
James Stewart just can't take the feelgood aspect of cinema too far. He took us all there with "It's a Wonderful Life" and Harvey is yet another where you are left with that warm glow you thought only christmas infront of a warm fire could provide. This makes the ultimate Christmas gift, to be watched on boxing day it is a film that all the family can truly enjoy. Introduced as the slightly barmy character Elwood, James Stewart brings you gently to the conclusion that you shouldn't be wary of all those whose best friend and companion is a six foot rabbit- if anything they are probably saner than you or I. I've seen it a million times and it still worthy of becoming my first DVD purchase. Ever.
"Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it." That cheerful comment sets the tone for "Harvey," a movie about a lovable guy whose way of dealing with the harshness of reality is simple: Make his own.
Veta Louise Simmons (Josephine Hull) hopes to arrange a wonderful marriage for daughter Myrtle May (Victoria Horne) in the upper echelons of society. There's one problem: her wealthy brother Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) has an imaginary pal, a six-foot-three rabbit called Harvey. After Elwood accidently wrecks a party by introducing Harvey to everyone, Veta decides to have him committed.
Unfortunately, when Veta takes Elwood to the sanatorium, the staff come to think that the fluttery socialite is crazy, and is trying to get her sunny brother out of the way. So they lock her up, and let him go. After that mistake is straightened out, the psychiatric staff and Elwood's long-suffering family try to find him.... and Harvey.
If we ever saw Elwood P. Dowd ("Here, let me give you one of my cards") in a car, the bumper sticker would probably say, "Reality is highly overrated." The big theme of the movie is that reality can be harsh, and that it's not necessarily a bad thing to lapse out of it into the fantasies of our own minds. If Elwood isn't dangerous and is otherwise normal, who cares if he has an imaginary friend?
Is Harvey real? The film leaves that up to our imaginations. And in the end, it doesn't matter if Harvey is a figment of Elwood's imagination, or a friendly spirit. It's the effect he has on Elwood that is important. His presence makes Elwood happy and relaxed, and Elwood makes others happy and relaxed -- even the hard-boiled head of the psychiatric ward, who lies down on his own couch and tells his secrets to Elwood.
This actually isn't too screwballish a comedy -- sure, there's the running joke where Elwood politely introduces Harvey to people he meets. And the scene where Veta is committed is hilarious. But it's more of a heartwarmer than a comedy, from Elwood softening the lead shrink to Myrtle May finding love with a lovable blue-collar worker from the sanatorium.
James Stewart gives a wonderfully dreamy performance, slightly smelling of booze and flowers -- his Elwood P. Dowd is mild-mannered, sweet, gallant, courteous, and oh-so-pleasant. And he's learned the value of just enjoying the little things in life, like a flower, a beer or a talk with a friend. And Josephine Hull brings up a brilliant performance as his frazzled sister, with several other good actors rounding off the supporting cast.
Who is crazier -- the happy man with the imaginary rabbit, or the people who want him to be 100% sane and less happy? You make the call. With a sweet, surreal story and a flawless cast "Harvey" is one of those rare movies that does an unspecifiable number on your heartstrings.
on 11 September 2003
What a truely great film, stewart plays the part to perfection. I only first saw the film on chrstmas eve last year it was on late on itv, but i loved it straight away and wanted to get the dvd after 8 months i finally got it. What a great film can't wait to watch it again. It has such a great line in it where elwood tells of how he first met Harvey. definetly worth the purchase!
on 19 August 2003
There isn't much you can say that is bad about Harvey. Jimmy Stewart plays an upper-class man with one slight abnormality. He has the ability to see and talk to an 'imaginary' rabbit named Harvey. He describes him as a Pooka, an old myth of shapechangers and halfmen half animals. This particular pooka named Harvey is a 6ft tall rabbit.
Now it has come out on DVD, it'll be all the more worth it buying this title, for its one that anyone can enjoy.
on 11 February 2001
I first saw this movie when I was about seven years old. I thought it a marvellous and convincing story of an adult with a gift for seeing a fantasy figure invisible to all the more ordinary people. I was sure Harvey was real, and was entranced as I waited for a glimpse of him on screen. Seeing the movie again, it seems now to me to be about something else entirely - how do people come to the point where they think they must send the one they love to an asylum for their own good? Can the cure be worse than the disease? Weighty subjects, but handled with delicate humour and grace. James Stewart is the ideal actor for the part. His portrayal of the alcoholic and supremely courteous Dowd is engaging and flawless. And in the end, you will want to live in his world too, where extraordinary and magical things can happen every day, and a little kindness and consideration go a long way in getting through life.
on 2 July 2003
This film is without a doubt one of the all time classic comedies.
James Stewart is wonderful,giving his best performance as the blissfully happy,and completely mad Elwood P. Dowd.
The story revolves around his friendship with a 6 foot 3 and one quarter inch invisible white rabbit named Harvey...a pookah.
Elwood's sister and neice live with Elwood and decide that the situation must be addressed.
Josephine Hull as his sister Veda, and Cecil Kallaway as the top psychiatrist give such great support.
It's a film which makes you laugh and smile throughout,with only a tinge of sadness.
A delightful escape from reality.
on 10 December 2014
One of the very best, but understated, films of the fifties. Of course the acting honours must go to Josephine Hull and James Stewart for brilliant performances (Hull got the Oscar) but all the performances are well up to the mark. Also I like the conundrum - does Harvey really exist or is he just a figment of Dowd' s imagination? If he is the latter then he still exerts a powerful influence, through Dowd, for good, on all the lives that he touches. I think that we all need a "Harvey".
Some say this is James Stewart's finest movie, though other's would not agree! What I can though is, it is certainly his most enjoyable movie to watch him in. He makes you believe he can actually see that 6 foot 3 inch Pooka standing right beside him!
You can't have a brilliant movie without a superb support cast and Josephine Hull as Stewart's older sister is just wonderful.
Stewart plays Elwood P. Dowd, a forty something year old man who just happens to have a six foot white rabbit as his best friend. They go everywhere together. To the bar, for walks. There is just one thing, only Elwood can see this white rabbit. It has his sisters driven mad and they are so embarrassed by Elwood that he is ruining their social events. What can be done? Only a trip to the sanitorium of course. But it starts off with a confusion over the real patient! From there I will leave you to enjoy it for yourself.
A wonderful movie from an age when they knew how to make them. Give me this anyday over your action movie or any modern Hollywood film.
on 19 August 2003
Ever since DVD came out I have been waiting for Harvey to become available. It is one of my all time favourite films, a real classic. However this issue is one MASSIVE disappointment. The film company have really missed the boat with this one. I have compared it back to back with my video copy and it does not appear to have been digitally remastered. The picture is no sharper and still has those tell tale original speckles in the print. The sound quality is truly awful, thin and reedy with no depth whatever sound mode I use on my machine. My recommendation would be to stick with the video, which is better for it's warmer reproduction and better sound.