Reel Classics

Harvey (1950) - Movie Review

Harvey (1950)

Elwood P. Dood has a really BIG secret.  No, it’s not his constant drinking, which might be a cause for alarm in and of itself.  It’s his friend; his drinking buddy; and the only person who shares his innermost secrets with.  His best friend in the whole wide world is invisible.  He’s also 6-foot tall.  And, if that wasn’t enough, his friend, whom he calls Harvey, is a rabbit.  Time to call the mental hospital!  

"has just the right message for intelligence and cynicism"


Which is EXACTLY what happens in Harvey, a REEL CLASSIC from 1950.  Directed by Henry Koster (The Bishop’s Wife) and starring Jimmy Stewart as the wealthy and eccentric Elwood, Harvey arrives on blu-ray courtesy of Universal Home Entertainment.  While it looks as though they have just ported over the material from the previous DVD release, the 1080p upgrade is appreciated as Stewart shines as the whimsical middle-aged man who is at the center of all this insanity.

But, truth be told, he’s not crazy at all.  Oh, his family thinks so, though, and, after he and Harvey ruin a party his sister Veta (Josephine Hull, Arsenic and Old Lace) and niece Myrtle Mae (Victoria Horne) planned in secret, Veta wants nothing more than to see Elwood committed.  Unfortunately, she’s the one who winds up getting committed while Elwood and Harvey continue their bar crawl through the town, confusing the townsfolk with their tall tales.

When the mistake is discovered at the sanitarium, both an orderly (a very funny Jesse White) and the doctor (Cecil Kellaway) scramble to free Veta and bring back Elwood, with or without his white rabbit.  But, as some people swear to have seen it too, is it possible that Elwood isn’t insane?  With a whole lot of heart and humor, Harvey delivers a message to its audience which needs to be heard time and time again: one man's whimsical is another man's wisdom.Harvey (1950)

And just what is insanity anyway?!  Not everyone can be normal, you know.  Sometimes we all have to give into the crazy that is life on this spinning rock.  So, when the Celtic mythology of a pooka is explained and Harvey’s powers put out there for Dr. Chumley to digest, even the good doctor is tempted to have Harvey transport him to Akron for a much-needed vacation.

Shot in widescreen at Stewart’s suggestion to make sure there was plenty of room in the frame for this mischievous creature from Celtic folklore, Harvey is comedy like few others.  It is definitely a classic film thanks to the combined keyed-in performances from Stewart and Hull, but its lasting thought on defying everyone else’s expectations of what exactly normal is remains with the viewer long after the credits have rolled.  

Let the comic misunderstandings begin as the rabbit fur flies!  Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play written by Mary Chase, Harvey has just the right message for intelligence and cynicism.  Just in time for Easter, Harvey comes hoppity hop-like right onto blu-ray!

5/5 stars

 

Harvey (1950)

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Universal
Available on Blu-ray
- February 22, 2022
Screen Formats: 1.35:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono; French: DTS Mono; Spanish: DTS Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

James Stewart gives one of his finest performances in the lighthearted film Harvey, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Stewart stars as the good-natured Elwood P. Dowd, whose constant companion is Harvey, a six-foot tall rabbit that only he can see. To his sister, Veta Louise (Academy Award winner Josephine Hull), Elwood's obsession with Harvey has been a thorn in the side of her plans to marry off her daughter. When Veta Louise decides to put Elwood in a mental hospital, a hilarious mix-up occurs and she finds herself committed instead. It's up to Elwood to straighten out the mess with his kindly philosophy, and his "imaginary" friend, in this popular classic.

Video:

This transfer is nearly flawless.  With a solid contrast throughout, the black and white 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer - presented with a 1.33:1 aspect ratio - does not disappoint.  Shadows are thick.  Lines are crisp.  Backgrounds are clear.  The depth and dimension in some of the exterior shots are incredible!  And the interiors look like you could walk right in and have a seat alongside Stewart and Hull.  Wonderful transfer!

Audio:

A resounding DTS Surround 2.0 Mono mix supplies all the hijinks for this comedy/drama.

Supplements:

Commentary:

Special Features:

There are a few.  Nothing new to be found here, but if you want the upgrade to 1080p (which is worth it), just know that none of the DVD supplementals are gone.

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4/5 stars


Film Details

Harvey (1950)

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
104 mins
Director
: Henry Koster
Writer:
Oscar Brodney
Cast:
James Stewart; Wallace Ford; William H. Lynn
Genre
: Comedy | Fantasy
Tagline:
The Wonderful Pulitzer Prize Play... becomes one of the Great Motion Pictures of our Time!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 21, 1950
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 22, 2022.
Synopsis: stars James Stewart (It's a Wonderful Life) as Elwood P. Dowd, a charming, well-liked member of his smalltown community...who also claims to pal around with a six-foot-tall rabbit. Fearing social ostracization, Elwood's sister (Josephine Hull, Arsenic and Old Lace) tries to have her brother committed to a mental institution in order to "fix" his delusion, thus setting off a gently comic chain of events wherein Elwood and "Harvey" help teach those around them a valuable lesson about tolerance and the power of imagination.

Art

Harvey (1950)

 

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