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I'm not a film critic, but I'll tell you what I think about the movies I watch. I enjoy understanding the history behind the movies we watch, as well as the collaborative effort necessary to produce movies.

Jimmy Stewart: Harvey (1950)


In 1945 Jimmy Stewart returned to the stage, this time for Mary Chase’s Harvey where he took on the role of Elwood P. Dowd. He would remain in the London-based production for nearly three years. Then in 1950 he was cast as Elwood for the film version of this unique story. This is one of four films he would complete in 1950. Incredibly he was the second choice for the role of Elwood when filmmakers initially went after Bing Crosby. The film version of Harvey would earn Stewart another Oscar nomination for Best Actor as well as a Golden Globe nomination for the same category. It would also earn co-star Josephine Hull a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The film also starred Charles Drake, who would later appear with Stewart in The Glenn Miller Story (1954) and Winchester ’73 (1950).

The film was directed by Henry Koster who would later work with Stewart on No Highway in the Sky (1951) and Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962).

This is the story of Elwood P. Dowd (Stewart) and his good friend Harvey, a white rabbit that stands 6 feet 3 inches tall. Elwood lives in the family home with his sister Veta and her daughter Myrtle. Elwood is a bit of a wanderer and spends much of his time meeting new people at bars and restaurants around town. All the while he’s followed around by his friend Harvey. The problem is that no one sees Harvey, except Elwood. After having lived with Elwood and Harvey for a time, Elwood’s family decide that it’s best to have him committed. Elwood remains carefree and oblivious to the plans of the people around him. In the end Elwood and Harvey might be the one’s to heal the family and prove that nothing is as it seems.

This is a fun movie with a great message. The story doesn’t have a clear direction from the start but builds into a great movie by the conclusion. The story makes each character have an importance which isn’t immediately evident.

Stewart often said that Josephine Hull had the toughest part in the movie since she had to play a woman who believed and disbelieved in Harvey all at once. Stewart himself brought a warmth and charm to the character of Elwood. The message of the film comes through Stewart and sounds loud and clear in the end. The rest of the cast work well, adding to the overall goodness of the movie.

Jimmy Stewart would often say that this was one of his favorite roles. He would later revive this role for the stage in New York in 1970 and again in London in 1975. In addition to the play and film he would often sign drawings he had done of Harvey for fans. When the movie was released for home video Stewart even recorded the introduction which plays over production stills. This introduction shows the affection he had for this wonderful role.

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8 Comments on “Jimmy Stewart: Harvey (1950)

  1. Matt Stewart January 20, 2012 at 11:23 PM #

    Jimmy Stewart is basically the most awesome actor ever, so Harvey has been on my list for quite some time. I must catch a viewing soon!

    Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Jimmy Stewart: Winchester ’73 (1950) | Did You See That One? - January 23, 2012

    […] Stewart agreed to make Winchester ’73 only after the studio agreed to make Harvey. Under the agreement Stewart received a portion of the profits from both movies. Ultimately both of […]

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  2. Jimmy Stewart: The Glenn Miller Story (1954) | Did You See That One? - March 28, 2012

    […] Charles Drake was another name found in several of Stewart’s movies. These titles include Harvey and Winchester ’73.¬†Drake would also have roles in movies like Gunsmoke¬†(1953) and It Came […]

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  3. Jimmy Stewart: Magic Town (1947) | Did You See That One? - July 11, 2012

    […] roles throughout the film. This includes work by Wallace Ford who would later work with Stewart in Harvey […]

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  4. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner | Did You See That One? - April 28, 2014

    […] before his death, and it earned him his last Oscar nomination. Supporting actors Cecil Kellaway (Harvey) and Beah Richards (Beloved) were both nominated for Academy Awards for their supporting roles in […]

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  5. All About Eve | Did You See That One? - October 25, 2014

    […] actresses could have won for their great work. (Judy Holliday (Born Yesterday) and Josephine Hull (Harvey) won for Best Leading Actress and Best Supporting Actress.) Just as her character is written, Bette […]

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  6. Brute Force | Did You See That One? - July 14, 2015

    […] the stories being told. This one found the right look thanks to cinematographer William H. Daniels (Harvey). His camera work combines seamlessly with lighting and set design to bring the prison to life. The […]

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  7. Jimmy Stewart: Broken Arrow (1950) | Did You See That One? - September 23, 2015

    […] a big way. The biggest success of the year came with his Oscar-nominated performance as the lead in Harvey. Another stroke of luck came with the budding partnership between Stewart and Anthony Mann. The two […]

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