A Reminder Of Happiness!

Harvey (1950)
A Review By Ben Hunter
5 Out Of 5 Stars


“Harvey” is a reminder to be happy!


Elwood P. Dowd (James “Jimmy” Steward) has a “friend” whom he’s met and is proud to have in his life.  A gentleman, standing at 6’3”, with a deep voice and is well mannered, the two embark on beautiful encounters together.  Driving Dowd’s sister Veta Louise (Josephine Hull) completely crazy, this relationship has now affected everyone.  Veta is determined to get her brother the help he needs by committing him to an institution for people with mental disease or defect.  For you see, this “gentleman” … is a six foot three … rabbit. 


That’s right, Jimmy Stewart has a “special friend” that only he can see and everyone thinks he’s crazy.  Veta Louise takes him to the sanatorium and mistakenly gets committed herself and the doctors let Dowd go free.  All in a hilarious manner, we learn about how Dowd came to meet Harvey and why they’re in each other’s lives. Dowd is a charming fellow.  Only Jimmy Stewart could pull off such a role it seems, as he brings joy to each person he comes in contact with.  He lives as if everything was on purpose and “goes with the flow”, happily.  Even if it does mean to disagree, which oddly makes sense.  He takes on life with a smile.  Reminding us that it’s short, and there’s no time for unhappiness.

I smiled so much.  There was so much to enjoy as each plot point eased into the next.  This story was carefully crafted as each scene and line of dialogue or each and every word that was spoken was delicately and intricately constructed to convey the message and brilliantly move forward in a charming manner to match that of our protagonist (Stewart).

This is based off of Mary Chase’s play of the same name that ran over 5 years on Broadway.  She included Irish folklore within this story, an uplifting tale that she wrote for loved ones after they lost their son in WWII.  For you see, Harvey was a “púca” (pookah), Irish for spirit/ghost.  Bringers of good or bad fortune, shape changers that take the form of black goats, horses, or rabbits and help or hinder the communities, be they rural or marine. 

Harvey gravitated towards Dowd’s charming good nature, and he benefited his life as a result.  He also looked out for Dowd to rid him of the people that looked down upon him as a “special person”.  Those were the funniest of funny scenes in this rendition.  By the end of the story, that good will and true hearted essence of Dowd was revealed to some and reminded by others in his family to tell us the story of acceptance.  One of the nurses in the sanatorium was starting to even fall in love with him; another found it in Dowd’s niece because of the love he brought to every situation he gladly found himself within.

By the end, you’ll want to be a charming good person that brings joy to others just because it brings joy to you to do so! 

Let Harvey remind you … to be happy!
"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." -James Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd
Comedy, 104 Minutes, Not Rated
Based on the Pulitzer Prize Play by: Mary Chase
Screenplay by: Mary Chase & Oscar Brodney, and Myles Connolly
Directed by: Henry Coster
Cast: James Stewart, Josephine Hull, Peggy Dow, Charles Drake, Jesse White, Cecil Kellaway, Victoria Horne 

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