Univeral/1950/105/FS 1.33/BW

     Harvey is such a good-natured film, almost too sweet, especially for modern audiences. James Stewart, playing Elwood P. Dowd, spends most of the film with the silliest grin on his face; this is one film where the phrase pixilated should have been used. At least the lexicographers got in the word pooka as a description for the white rabbit. Harvey is not one of the wacky comedies that throw me into laughter conniptions. Mostly I smile or chuckle at the soft nature of the humor. The message of tolerance is a good one certainly.
     Harvey is about his small town guy, Elwood P. Dowd, who has an imaginary friend, a six-foot-plus white rabbit. The white rabbit, Harvey, hangs around with Elwood as he tipples at the local bar,  or even, to the chagrin of his sister and niece, when the ladies entertain. Niece Myrtle Mae is quickly growing long in the tooth and Vida, Elwood's ditzy sister, is afraid no one will ever marry Myrtle Mae as long as Elwood and Harvey are around to spook the suitors. What's a sister to do? Vida decides to do the unthinkable. The complications from her act supply the best laughter and Myrtle Mae winds up with a suitor from the last place you'd expect. And you can bet your last quarter that Dr. Chumley's Sanitarium will never be the same.

Stewart guides Harvey to a seat. ©Universal

       For some reason, Harvey is often considered one of Stewart's most beloved films. Personally, the gleam is in his eye often gets in my way and there are times that I think one more smile will burn the celluloid. But Stewart has such screen magic that you can forgive him almost any excess. Josephine Hull is a gas as Vida, Elwood’s older sister. Talk about crazy. Veteran character actor Cecil Kellaway has some fun as Dr. Chumley. Jesse White is pretty funny as Dr. Chumley's aide.
  I've come to expect the best elements from Universal's classic library of films, and Harvey is delivered in  excellent condition. The picture is very clean, but some scene are slightly soft, maybe from a little over-zealous digital clean-up. Contrast is fine and the range of grays are excellent. Detail is comfortably displayed. The mono soundtrack is has no hiss or other signs of age.



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