The Trouble With Harry (1955) – Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock brings me a little New England humour in today’s entry, The Trouble With Harry. Based on the novel by Jack Trevor Story, adapted for the screen by John Micheal Hayes, Hitchcock delivers a delightful film that virtually pops with colour and crackles with sharp dialogue.

Using the back drop of the turning of the leaves as fall comes to a remote small town, a number of locals get drawn into a mystery, when a dead body is found in a field. More than a couple of times.

At the centre of the story is John Forsythe’s as undiscovered painter Sam Marlowe, single mother, Jennifer Rogers (Shirley MacLaine) and her son, Arnie (a very young Jerry Mathers). Also pulled into the intriguing web is Capt. Albert Wiles (Edmund Gwenn), Mrs. Wiggs (Mildred Dunnock), local Deputy Sheriff, Calvin Wiggs (Royal Dano) and Dr. Greenbow (Dwight Marfield).

On discovery of the body (a couple of times) it’s revealed that some people had a motive, some people knew him, and almost everyone thinks that they may have been responsible for his death.

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What follows is a delightful, and colourful, comedy of errors, edged with dark humour, and fun little character beats. Sam and Jennifer are obviously meant to be together, so a romance develops between them, even as Harry’s corpse is lugged back and forth over the countryside.

Wonderfully enjoyable, Hitchcock’s able direction shows that he can not only create a tense film, but he can also do a film with a lighter touch that plays out beautifully against the fall leaves, and looks absolutely stunning on the screen.

Mathers is just charming, and it’s easy to see why he was cast at such an early age to lead a television series with Leave It To Beaver, and there is something absolutely engaging about MacLaine in this film with her pixie haircut. Forsythe is wonderfully droll and deadpan and everyone in the cast seems perfectly fit for their role, and their character’s environment.

The film has a lot going on with its reveals, pleasant twists, and is comparable to a fall cider, tasty, evocative of nostalgia, and conjures Norman Rockwell images, which may very well be the film’s intent, while hinting at a darkness around the comforting images, but never over-powering it.

This is one of the Hitchcock films that I often forget about until I see the title listed, and then recall how much I enjoy it. And there’s a few more coming up yet! He really was a brilliantly prolific director, and able to handle any genre.

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