Page 1 of 3
Alfred Hitchcock: Masterpiece Edition Vol. 5: Hitch takes a stab at comedy, and the results are dark as hell....
Universal / 99 Minutes / 1955 / Unrated / Street Date: October 30, 2012
[As preparation for our comprehensive review of Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection, we're investing each of that massive Blu-ray sets films one by one chronologically. Check out our reviews of Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, and Rear Window...]
Inspired by the English novel of the same name, The Trouble With Harry is the funniest of Hitchcock's films. Considering most everything else he created was a drama or a thriller (aside from episodes of his television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents) this shouldn't be a shock to most people. The film starts simple, when a young boy named Arnie (Jerry "The Beav" Mathers) stumbles upon a dead man lying on a hilltop. While he runs off to tell his mother, a hunter named Albert Wiles discovers the body and assumes (due to a mark on the man's head) that he accidentally killed him. Two encounters with a dead body would be a solid enough premise for most movies, but this is Hitchcock...
Arnie returns with his mother Jennifer (Shirley MacLaine in her first film), who promptly remarks, "Thank Providence, that's the last of Harry!" Jennifer and her son leave the body and head for home, which is sort of odd if you ask me. Anyway, next comes along Dr. Greenbow, who's reading a book and trips over Harry's body. Amazingly he picks himself right up, never noticing what he tripped on!
Next a transient notices the body and steals his shoes, then leaves. Finally, Sam Marlow (John Forsythe), an artist exploring for something to draw arrives at the top of the hill and discovers the body. Fascinated by the prone man, he sketches a portrait of the man. Why? I don't know.
The rest of the film centers on the following questions: Who killed Harry? Why did they kill Harry? What do we do with Harry's body? There's no real suspense to this story, in truth this is more like a romantic comedy, with the body used as a plot device to move the exterior stories along. Originally released by Paramount, The Trouble with Harry was a box office failure in its initial run in U.S. theaters, but after a successful European trek, Harry eventually found its audience here as well. While still not considered a classic on the level of other Hitchcock masterpieces like Vertigo, Psycho or North By Northwest, The Trouble With Harry was an entertaining departure for Hitchcock and well worth seeing.