The story of Elwood P. Dowd who makes friends with a spirit taking the form of a human-sized rabbit named Harvey that only he sees (and a few privileged others on occasion also.) After his sister tries to commit him to a mental institution, a comedy of errors ensues. Elwood and Harvey become the catalysts for a family mending its wounds and for romance blossoming in unexpected places.
- Elwood P. Dowd: James Stewart
- Veta Louise Dowd Simmons: Josephine Hull
- Dr. Sanderson: Charles Drake
- Miss Kelly: Peggy Dow
- Myrtle Mae Simmons: Victoria Horne
- Marvin Wilson – orderly: Jesse White
- Dr. Chumley: Cecil Kellaway
- Judge Gaffney: William H. Lynn
- Mr. Cracker: Dick Wessel
- Mr. Meegles: Harry Hines
- Mrs. Ethel Chauvenet: Grayce Mills
- Henry – 1st Cabbie: Norman Leavitt
- Nurse Dunphy: Minerva Urecal
- Herman – Sanitarium gatekeeper: Clem Bevans
- Mrs. Hazel Chumley: Nana Bryant
- E.J. Lofgren – 2d Cabbie: Wallace Ford
- Himself: Harvey
- Mailman (uncredited): Don Brodie
- Mrs. Tewksbury (uncredited): Aileen Carlyle
- Mrs. Krausmeyer (uncredited): Polly Bailey
- Mrs. Cummings (uncredited): Sally Corner
- Mrs. Johnson – Maid Who Quits (uncredited): Eula Guy
- Mr. Minninger (uncredited): Sam Wolfe
- Mrs. Strickleberger (uncredited): Grayce Hampton
- Elvira the Cook (uncredited): Maudie Prickett
- First Bar Patron (uncredited): Edwin Max
- Dr. Schwartz’s Nurse (uncredited): Anne O’Neal
- Mrs. Halsey (uncredited): Almira Sessions
- Policeman (uncredited): Pat Flaherty
- Miss LaFay (uncredited): Ruthelma Stevens
- Voice of Leslie the Chauffeur (uncredited): Fess Parker
- (uncredited): Leo Sulky
- Eccentric Man (scenes deleted): Gino Corrado
- Bar Patron (uncredited): Charles Perry
- Director of Photography: William H. Daniels
- Costume Design: Orry-Kelly
- Sound: Leslie I. Carey
- Set Decoration: Russell A. Gausman
- Set Decoration: Julia Heron
- Makeup Artist: Bud Westmore
- Production Manager: Howard Christie
- Art Direction: Bernard Herzbrun
- Hairstylist: Joan St. Oegger
- Original Music Composer: Frank Skinner
- Director: Henry Koster
- Art Direction: Nathan H. Juran
- Editor: Ralph Dawson
- Theatre Play: Mary Chase
- Screenplay: Oscar Brodney
- Screenplay: Myles Connolly
- Producer: John Beck
- Assistant Director: Frank Shaw
- Camera Operator: Bill Johnson
- Script Supervisor: Nagene Searle
- Makeup Artist: Joe Stinton
- Sound: Joe Lapis
- John Chard: That damn 6ft 3″ rabbit is as charming as ever.
Elwood P. Dowd is a charming harmless fella, he takes a drink or two for sure, but he’s a delightful human being regardless. So why then does his sister want to have him committed to a home for the insane? Ah well you see, Elwood has an invisible friend who happens to be a six-foot-three rabbit!
Faithfully adapted by Mary Chase from her hit Broadway play, Harvey remains to this day a wonderful fantasy comedy that delights all members of the family. It’s the kind of film that leaves a warm glow once the credits role, it’s basic premise is one of fantastical whimsy as Elwood drives all around him to distraction with his discourse with the invisible Harvey. It’s here that the film has a rather naughty streak because Elwood actually appears to be the only sane person on show, all around him is chaos, but he remains calm and completely at peace with his lot.
Starring as Elwood is James Stewart (Academy Award nominated), and it’s a very special memorable performance as he carries off with ease the eccentric nature of the character. Stealing the show as Elwood’s sister Veta, is Josephine Hull (Aademy Award winner best supporting actress}, completely flustered and effervescent with comic timing precision. Solid support comes from Peggy Dow (why didn’t she do more movies?), Charles Drake and the always watchable Cecil Kellaway. The direction from Henry Koster I personally find uneven, at times too hectic when the magic moment has passed, it’s as if he was caught between making a screwball comedy or just a basic fantastical one. I often wonder what Frank Capra could have done with this particular adaptation? Still, the film remains much beloved by many, and I’m certainly counting myself amongst that number.
Bless the pooka indeed. 8/10
- DanDare: Harvey is a whimsical film, at times a clever film about innocence and making sure it is not lost in a cynical dog eat dog world.
James Stewart plays Elwood an amiable pleasant drunk, although we never see him actually drink. He is a sweet man who likes talking to people, so adept he is at listening to people, they tell him all sorts of hopes, desires, wishes and problems like he was the parish priest.
Elwood’s sister Veta Louise (Josephine Hull) wants to marry off her daughter Myrtle Mae (Victoria Home) but what is holding them back is Elwood and his conversations with Harvey, a 6 feet tall invisible rabbit.
Veta decides to have Elwood committed but due to a series of mishaps it is her who ends being institutionalized before the error is discovered and further farce ensues. Eventually she realises that she wants her brother just the way he is.
- barrymost: People like Elwood P. Dowd. He has plenty of friends, and knows almost everyone in town. If he doesn’t know you, simply allow him to give you his card. His best friend, however, is a clever pooka who takes the form of a 6’3″ tall rabbit.
I didn’t know it was possible to like James Stewart even more than I already did! Here he gives one of his most endearing performances, in a role he called his personal favorite. Josephine Hull, Victoria Horn, Charles Drake, Peggy Dow, Cecil Kellaway, and others make up a colorful and lively supporting cast.
From the Pulitzer prize winning play comes this wonderfully zany comedy celebrating the eccentric in all of us. A delightful and heartwarming film enjoyable for all ages.
I think Jimmy Stewart speaks for all of us when he says at the end, “I prefer you, too, Harvey.”