Ridin’ With Hitch: The Trouble With Harry (1955)

I’m embarrassed to say that I have seen too few Alfred Hitchcock movies. I’ve seen Psycho, Vertigo, The Birds and Rope and I hardly remember Vertigo. Luckily, NetBox has a ton of Hitch’s movies available for watching. I’ve got them all organized into a clump on my queue that I hope to start making my way through. First up was a fairly different film for Hitch called The Trouble With Harry which is essentially a comedy with some horror elements (Harry is a corpse  being dragged around a small New England town being buried and dug up).

This was a delightful film. It’s black comedy at its best, which I love. But it’s also intricately written without getting overly complex. Here’s the deal, Edmund Gwenn (Santa from Miracle On 34th Street) is out shooting at rabbits in the woods. After he’s done he comes across a dead body, assumes he accidentally shot the man and tries to figure out what to do. Of course, it seems like the whole town comes out to take a walk in that exact area and either don’t notice the body or seem generally nonplussed by its appearance. From there, it gets a little complicated and I won’t get all the way into it, but Gwenn and John Forsythe go back and forth about burrying the body, meet some ladies who both claim to have had a hand in Harry’s death and have to dig up and bury him over and over and over again. If I had one complaint it’s that the movie  gets a little repetitive with various people returning to the burial site. Aside from that, though, this one’s a home run for me full of strange and interesting characters. Oh, this was also Shirley MacLaine’s first flick and she was hot stuff and funny as you’d expect. My favorite character, though, has to be MacLaine’s son played by none other than Jerry Mathers who would go on to play Beaver on Leave It To Beaver. The kid is just SO weird. He calls tomorrow today and yesterday tomorrow or some such craziness. It might seem like throaway dialogue from a character who’s not super important, but it’s touches like that that elevate a movie from pretty good to outstanding in my book.

So, do yourself a favor and give The Trouble With Harry a shot. I know I had some reservations when I saw that this was a comedy from 1955. Not knowing the humor would still hold up or whether I’d even get it (what if they ONLY make jokes about Victrolas?!), but it felt really fresh and I’d like to think that little towns like this still exist somewhere in New England filled with interesting folks, strange kids, hot single moms, people who don’t care about murder and snooty artists who don’t like cities because everyone’s wearing hats!

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