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The Trouble with Harry

Way back in 1955, Alfred Hitchcock showed off his decidedly dark sense of humor with his comedy mystery THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY.

There’s a dead body in the colorful autumn woods that surround a small Vermont town. As the film unfolds, it becomes clear that most of the town thinks they killed him.

Was it Captain Wiles, perfectly played by Edmund Gwenn (Santa in the original “Miracle on 34th Street”)? He’s pretty sure it was his fault with an errant hunting shot. As he decides what to do, people keep walking into the woods and either finding the body or nearly tripping over it. He mumbles “Couldn’t have had more people here if I’d sold tickets!” as he leaps back behind a convenient log.

Single Mom Jennifer (Shirley MacLaine in her film debut) openly admits that she knew Harry and she doesn’t seem too upset he’s dead.

Local Artist Sam Marlowe (John Forsythe of “Dynasty” fame) has eyes for Jennifer and a subplot about a wealthy stranger interested in buying his art brings some solid laughs.

“Elderly” neighbor Ivy Gravely (the legendary Mildred Natwick) also sees the body and is happy to help cover up the discovery. She’s called an elderly woman and a spinster but she’s only 42. What? Times have changed. Natwick was 50 at the time of filming, but come on, elderly???

The trouble with Harry is most of the town seems to have stumbled over his body and become embroiled in a fun and twisty plot that threatens to land them all in serious legal trouble.

Hitchcock handles everything with style, perfect timing, and more humor than you’d expect. The script by John Michael Hayes (Rear Window, To Catch A Thief, The Man Who Knew Too Much) is as clever as you’d expect with that resume.

A box office flop in the US in 1955, it was a huge hit in Europe and gained much more respect when Universal re-released it for the first time in the 1980’s.

This was the first time that Hitch and composer Bernard Herrrmann worked together. Their partnership would become one of the all-time great Director/Composer partnerships, perhaps only replicated by Steven Spielberg and John Williams in our time.

At just a little over 90 minutes long, HARRY is a lightweight, enjoyable fun with some nice moments of suspense. This classic Hitch gets a B+.

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