Time: 104 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Won Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Hull). Nominations for Best Actor (Stewart).
SYNOPSIS: 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.
BOTTOM LINE: HARVEY is a quaint and silly fantasy that rests solely on the sincere charm of Jimmy Stewart. His character, Elwood P. Dodd, is a complete embarrassment to his family, partly because he's a drunk, but mostly because of his best friend a six-foot rabbit named Harvey. The trouble is, Elwood's the only one who can see Harvey, though he believes everyone else can as well. His sister, Veta Louise (played brilliantly by Hull) is at her wit's end and finally decides to have Elwood committed to a sanitarium in the hope that they'll cure him of this unusual friendship. Craziness ensues as Veta find herself under the mental health microscope while Elwood is still at large. Elwood's so unassuming, pleasant and genuinely helpful that no one believes her claims. He's more content with his lot in life than anyone else in the film, which makes his ideas irresistible and everyone he comes into contact with happy to make his acquaintance.
That he's almost constantly in his cups is swept under the rug in the name of comedy. While an alcoholic being the only one to truly understand the nature of life is an amusing concept, it's far from believable and detracts from the depth of the story and Elwood's character. No one who drinks that much would be that pleasant to be around. Perhaps we have Harvey to thank for that. Stewart and his brilliant supporting cast, especially Hull, really get behind this story and turn it into a screwball comedy for the ages. He actually has you believing Harvey exists and that's no simple feat. The film's messages of individuality and living life without fear are valuable lessons. If our hero wasn't an alcoholic living within his imagination instead of in reality they'd have a bit more weight. Drunk and clueless is no way to go through life; however, Stewart certainly makes it look awfully appealing.