Harvey (1950)

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

Elwood P Dowd

I love Jimmy Stewart. I should get that out of the way to start.

So, it came as a surprise when I stumbled over this feature a couple of years ago that I hadn’t seen it sooner. Since first watching it, I have bought it for at least three separate friends and family members and am compiling a list of others I think need to see it.

Mr Stewart plays Elwood P Dowd, a well-liked man in a small town who happens to be best friends with Harvey, an invisible six-foot rabbit. Elwood describes Harvey as a Pooka, a creature from Celtic myth. Chaos ensues as Elwood’s eccentric sister worries about the affect of his actions on her daughter’s marriage prospects. His sanity is questioned and what follows is a farcical romp of a tale, with Elwood at it’s cool, calm centre.

Stewart is delightful in this role: being charming and introducing baffled family and friends to an acquaintance only he can see seems to be the part he was born to play. He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role, but was robbed by José Ferrer.

In 2008, this film was ranked number 8 in the American Film Institutes top ten list of fantasy films. Honestly, despite its stiff competition, I’m only surprised it didn’t come higher. This film is sublime.