The film is a little bit of indictment of the mental health industry, with one doctor (Lyman Sanderson) jumping to harebrained conclusions and an orderly (Jesse White) aggressively putting his hands on people. He alludes to having had to take the corset off of Hull's character while stripping her, a fact that intrigues her daughter (Victoria Horne), in one creepy and awkward scene. Horne at 39 was far too old for the role (Jimmy Stewart, playing her uncle, was 42), and scenes with her and White are the low points of the film.
If it seems like just another goofball comedy in the first half, stay with it and let Elwood Dowd's benevolence sink in. He engages everyone he meets in real conversation, cares about them, and almost always invites them over to his house for dinner or for drinks. He does that not out of politeness, but actually wants and expects them to show up. The character is quite endearing, and Stewart's performance is nuanced and brilliant. In this screwball comedy, there is a real message of the importance of simple kindness, and it's delivered in a subtle way.
The comedy in Harvey is very situational, which I enjoy, but it seemed there were not a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. I think I expected a more screwball style to the humor, but it didn't quite get there. In fact, there are some moments in Harvey that are totally serious. They are having genuine discussions about what makes someone crazy, and asking if crazy is bad if they aren't hurting anyone. It also feels like the movie answers the question of whether Harvey is real or not, and I think I would have preferred if it was left ambiguous. It wasn't a problem, just one thing that might have worked better for me if they went the other way.
The story of Harvey is not a complicated one, in fact much of it I was able to surmise from merely watching a few clips that I've seen in pop culture. You can sense the origins of the script, because the film feels exactly like a stage play. There aren't many sets or locations, and they seem to return to the same places again and again. It was in danger, at times, of feeling repetitive because so much of the movie seemed to center on finding one person or another that has disappeared. However, I never got to the point of being annoyed or bored by Harvey. It's an entertaining little film, and it's one I'd gladly watch again anytime.