Release Date: December 21, 1950
Director: Henry Koster
Production Company: Universal Pictures
Harvey is a movie I saw parts of when I was younger, and I’m pretty sure attempted to watch at a later date (checked out the video but didn’t get a chance to watch it). So it’s been on my “list” for quite some time. The central premise is whimsical: Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) is best friends with a 6′ 3.5″ rabbit who is a pooka that only he can see.
The reality of the film is darker. Elwood’s sister, Veta Louise Simmons (Josephine Hull) and niece, Myrtle Mae (Victoria Horne), share his home and find their social life ruined by his apparent mental illness and alcoholism. They’re attempt to have him committed to a sanatorium turns into a comedy of error that relies on a lot of cringe humor that rubs me the wrong way. Maybe I’m overly sensitive to issues of mental health and substance abuse but much of the humor in this film didn’t make me laugh.
The other big problem with this movie is that the cast of this movie are just not as good at acting as Jimmy Stewart. He has some wonderful moments in this movie, even if you have to set aside the cliche of the “wise fool” to enjoy them. When he’s not on screen, it’s readily apparent that his colleagues aren’t up to snuff and the movie suffers.
Author: Robert Sellers
Publication Info: London : SelfMadeHero, 2011.
This graphic biography tells the exploits of the Irish & British actors Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Oliver Reed, and Peter O’Toole. I’ve long admired the work of Harris and O’Toole, and familiar with Burton by reputation, but Reed was new to me. What they have in common is that they were part of new class of post World War II actors who were gritty and real, and lived a wild and hardscabble life off the screen and stage. The book focuses on the legendary exploits of the quartet’s drinking and partying but also their feelings of inadequacy and failed relationships. It’s common to romanticize their wild lives, but the book does not shy away from the harm they caused, the violence, the sexual harrasment, and general arrogance. Cleverly, the author ties their stories together by having the Burton, Harris, Reed, and O’Toole appear as ghosts to a character named Martin who is drinking his life away. The four hellraiser actors are able to help Martin to focus on his life and family. Oddly, when I checked this book out, the librarian told me he’d read the book and said it was “good, clean fun.” I’d say it’s anything but, a cautionary tale more than anything else. Burton, Harris, Reed, and O’Toole lived lives of reckless abandon so that you don’t have to.