The Trouble With Harry (1955)
Genre: Comedy Mystery
Starring: Edmund Gwenn (Them!; The Skin Game), John Forsythe (In Cold Blood; Scrooged)
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (Topaz; Torn Curtain)
Overview: When a man out shooting his rifle comes across a dead man, he tries to cover up the accident, but there's lost more trouble with Harry that awaits.
Acting: The trouble with Harry is that the characters are just a little too screwball for me to see as great players doing great roles. Someone somewhere decided to tone down these people rather than let them fly and do a spot of overacting. In a way were these actors trying to make sure that they proved they could do dramatic roles? Certainly not John Forsythe. Wait, wait! That's going overboard. I take back what I said about the guy who stared in "Charlie's Angel's" and "Dynasty". I sincerely apologize.
Cinematography: The trouble with Harry is that you often stop thinking about how funny it is and take in the gorgeous sights that are the New England scenic motifs of Autumn. Absolutely stunning. Then you go back to a sound stage with all too perfect lighting that draws you out of the moment a little, then back into amusing shots like the one above, or the ones where hobos steal Harry's shoes. Poor Harry.
Script: The trouble with Harry is the lines written for Forsythe. Everyone else unfolds brilliantly, witty and well-timed, and the laughter does stem pretty solely from the dialogue. Comedy of errors abound in this, and if it hadn't been for some weird rulership of narrative as expressed by our main character, it would have gone much better, and far less forced.
Plot: The trouble with Harry is that he's dead. He's dead right away and we know how it happened. Then we doubt what happened, so someone goes and digs him up to see what exactly happened. When they realize it didn't quite happen like they thought it would happen, they bury Harry (ha!) but then people start wondering what happened and the shovels start becoming secondary cast members. Actually, the trouble with Harry is that it went the way of Weekend At Bernie's 30 years later.
Mood: The trouble with Harry is that he isn't all that funny. When something claims itself to be funny because of one laugh that's stretching it way too far. When something else claims to be funny because it's full of mediocre laughs and screwball situations, it's a touch better. And finally when something claims to be more about the thrill than the laugher, and it ends up being funnyish in it's own right, well that's the best way of going at it. Harry went somewhere between forced screwball and letting it happen.
Overall Rating: 74% (Not All That Much Trouble)
Aftertaste: The trouble with Harry is that he's got a title too easy to make fun. You end up in the land of overkill. The neat thing about this is that if you consider the director, the subtext is terrific. "Look at that Hitchcock making a comedy about a dead guy. It's perfectly up his alley." If you didn't know it was Hitchcock, maybe it wouldn't be as entertaining. What would have made this better is if he had done self-mockery of his own styles of cinematography, like going overboard with Noir lighting or having everyone in trench coats and dark hats for a scene, you know, something contextual. That's it. I'm decided. When I make my 43rd film, it's all be a self-mockery of my own style. You read it here first!