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 corpseĀ  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 movieĀ  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!

CANNONBALL! 2

2008-06-06
2:41:05 am

Cannonball Run II (1984)

Starring Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Jamie Farr, Marilu Henner, Telly Savalas, Shirley MacLaine, Jackie Chan, Tim Conway, Sid Caesar, Tony Danza, Richard Kiel, Don Knotts, Ricardo Montalban, Jim Nabors, Charles Nelson Reilly, Frank Sinatra, Joe Theismann and even Cheech Marin

Directed by Hal Needham

Written by Hal Needham, Albert S. Ruddy & Harvey Miller

Hey, remember how much I like Cannonball Run? Welllll, I can’t necessarily throw my hat in the ring completely for its sequel. First of all, everyone feels a lot older, even though this movie was only shot 3 years after the original. The element of fun and wackiness is still there, but it definitely seems watered down. But there are still great moments like the interactions between Jackie Chand and Richard Kiel (Jaws, to most folks). Also, you get to see Jaws fight Sid Caesar and Kojak’s Telly Savalas.

The basic plot is that Jaime Farr, who plays a shiek, has a dad (Roberto Mantalban) who’s disapointed that he lost the race from the first movie, so he encourages his son to hold a new race this year that he can win. All the usual faces show up to win the million bucks that’s up for grabs, but at some point Jaime Farr gets captured by some gangsters and the Cannonballers have to roll in and save the day, which brings about another great fight scene between a bunch of great actors and some stunt men. I think I could watch a 90 year old Dean Martin punch a dude and I wouldn’t get sick of it. That guy’s awesome.

Did I mention that Frank Sinatra’s in this bad boy? I read that he filmed all his scenes by himself and they used stand ins for some of the shots, but I like seeing him around too. Have you ever seen the original Ocean’s 11? You really should, those Rat Pack fellas sure knew how to have a good time. I also highly recommend listening to the Rat Pack Live at the Sands CD. You get a great idea of how well these guys really got along. But more on the Rat Pack at another date and time.

I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this flick. It’s definitely not as good as the original, but it does still have a lot of fun elements that make it worth tossing up on your queue or renting sometime. Oh yeah, one more thing. I did a little math (which I hate doing) and came up with something a little weird. In the movie, the two main love interests for Burt and Dom and Merilu Henner and Shirley MacLaine who play dancers dressed as nuns. Well, like I said I did some math and Merilu would have been around 32 when she shot this movie, which isn’t a big deal, but Shirley was 50. And you know what? She didn’t look half bad. Just something to think about. Or not, whatever.