Monday, February 11, 2008

The Trouble with Harry

The Trouble with Harry; Comedy, USA, 1955; D: Alfred Hitchcock, S: John Forsythe, Edmund Gwenn, Shirley MacLaine, Mildred Natwick, Mildred Dunnock, Jerry Mathers

A little boy named Arnie finds the corpse of Harry on the field and runs away. The corpse is also found by the hunter Wiles who concluded he might have accidentally killed him while he shot carelessly. The corpse is also found by painter Sam who meets Jennifer, Arnie's mother and Harry's wife who is happy her husband is dead because he was an awful man. Sam and Wiles bury him but then Mrs. Gravely shows up who claims she is the murderer because she hit him with her cane. Sam proposes Jennifer but has to dig out Harry in order to prove that she is now a widow. The doctor concludes Harry died of a heart attack so the police closes the case.

Alfred Hitchcock once called "The Trouble with Harry" one of his favorite films. Some critics are not even today sure if that was just one of his symbolic gags, especially since he could have chosen from a rich repertoire ("Rear Window", "Psycho", "Strangers on a Train" etc.). This unfunny black comedy with extremely mild mood simply does not work. The biggest problem is that the sole segment with the corpse of Harry quickly got pushed to the background while the unessential relationship between painter Sam and Jennifer suddenly got pushed to the foreground. Among the better gags are the scenes where Sam and Wiles bury Harry three times, but always have to dig him up again in order to check if he is killed by a bullet, prove he is dead in front of the court...which all seems as if it's treated as a dumb caricature, while the most unconvincing part is the one where Sam drew Harry's portrait and got into trouble with the police. It's nothing more than a solid comedy since Hitchcock is a master of suspense, not a master of laughs.


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