Harvey (1950)

DailyView: Day 84, Movies 144

During the DailyView, I have been watching several of the films in the filmography of Jimmy Stewart and the latest is the off-beat comedy, Harvey.

Elwood P. Dowd (Jimmy Stewart) was an affable and charming gentleman, friendly and kind-hearted, who seemed to have one problem, he talked to a 6’3″ white invisible rabbit named Harvey. Elwood’s sister, Veta (Josephine Hull) was becoming tired of the impropriety of the situation and wanted to have him committed to the mental institution.

All manner of chaos and shenanigans ensued after this with Elwood unaffected by any of it. He just went about the day engaging with every person he met and passing out his card.

Harvey is a funny, light-hearted movie that shows how likeable Jimmy Stewart can be. Even with everything going crazy around him, Elwood just continued to see the goodness and the sweetness of everyone.

There would be a question if this movie is making light of the serious business of mental illness, but there are also parts where you, as the audience, believe that Harvey is real. They refer to him as a Pooka, a spirit, which could be considered the way around any actual illness. Of course, it can also be referring to how you can take control of your own life by letting go of the worries or the stress and just basking in the warmth of life.

Jimmy Stewart is wonderful in Harvey, showing the warmth and the whimsical side of his personality. The performance of Josephine Hull was so great that she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. There are lots of solid comedic performances, including Jesse White as the sanatorium’s orderly. Cecil Kellaway takes his character, Dr. Chumley in many different paths as the film moved along.

Based on a play by Mary Chase, Harvey is a wondrous romp through the world of acceptance and finding the light in the dark. Harvey could have been a much darker film dealing with themes of alcoholism and mental illness, but instead, it chooses to find the joy life gives. We should all have a Harvey in our lives.

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