Harvey

1950

Harvey

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

85%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 27

93%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 38,443
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Movie Info

This whimsical fantasy about a local drunk's 6' 3 1/2" imaginary rabbit pal was a smash hit (and a Pulitzer Prize winner) on Broadway and was then adapted into this likeable farce that's also an allegory about tolerance. James Stewart stars as Elwood P. Dowd, a wealthy tippler whose sunny philosophy and inebriated antics are tolerated by most of the citizenry. That is, until Elwood begins claiming that he sees a "pooka" (a mischievous Irish spirit), which has taken the form of a man-sized bunny named Harvey. Although everyone is certain that Elwood has finally lost his mind, Harvey's presence begins to have magically positive effects on the townsfolk, with the exception of Elwood's own sister Veta (Josephine Hull), who, ironically, can also occasionally see Harvey. A snooty socialite, Veta is determined to marry off her daughter, Myrtle (Victoria Horne), to somebody equally respectable, and Elwood's lunacy is interfering. When Veta attempts to have Elwood committed to an insane asylum, however, the result is that she is accidentally admitted instead of her brother. Then the institution's director, Dr. Chumley (Cecil Kellaway), begins seeing Harvey, too. Hull, who reprised her part from the stage production, won an Oscar and a Golden Globe.

Cast

James Stewart
as Elwood P. Dowd
Josephine Hull
as Veta Louise Simmons
Charles Drake
as Dr. Sanderson
William Lynn
as Judge Gaffney
Cecil Kellaway
as Dr. Chumley
Peggy Dow
as Miss Kelly
Victoria Horne
as Myrtle Mae
Wallace Ford
as Lofgren
Nana Bryant
as Mrs. Chumley
Grace Mills
as Mrs. Chauvenet
Ida Moore
as Mrs. McGiff
Dick Wessel
as Cracker
Pat Flaherty
as Policeman
Norman Leavitt
as Cab Driver
Edwin Max
as Salesman
Minerva Urecal
as Nurse Dunphy
Almira Sessions
as Mrs. Halsey
Sally Corner
as Mrs. Cummings
Sam Wolfe
as Minninger
Polly Bailey
as Mrs. Krausmeyer
Grayce Hampton
as Mrs. Strickleberger
Ruthelma Stevens
as Miss LaFay
Eula Guy
as Mrs. Johnson
William Val
as Chauffeur
Gino Corrado
as Eccentric Man
Don Brodie
as Mailman
Harry Hines
as Meegels
Aileen Carlyle
as Mrs. Tewksbury
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News & Interviews for Harvey

Critic Reviews for Harvey

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (23) | Rotten (4)

  • The charm of the play has been brought to the screen and all audiences should find it highly satisfying.

    Jul 30, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Unhappily, what the film also borrows from the play, and somehow makes more conspicuous, is a tendency to drag its feet for long stretches, especially during the virtually actionless last third of the story.

    Mar 29, 2011 | Full Review…
    TIME Magazine
    Top Critic
  • Harvey, Mary Chase's Pulitzer Prize play, loses little of its whimsical comedy charm in the screen translation.

    Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • If you're for warm and gentle whimsey, for a charmingly fanciful farce and for a little touch of pathos anent the fateful evanescence of man's dreams, then the movie version of Harvey is definitely for you.

    Mar 25, 2006 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Charming, lightweight stuff (from a play by Mary Chase), so long as you can take Stewart's ingenuousness, but it does wear thin.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Derek Adams

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • There's so many wonderful quotable quotes.

    May 13, 2019 | Rating: 8.5/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Harvey

  • Dec 13, 2017
    "In this world, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant." So says Elwood P. Dowd (Jimmy Stewart), a character who combines the gentle temperament of the Dalai Lama with the martini intake of Frank Sinatra. He also seems a bit crazy, seeing as his pal is an invisible 6'3 1/2" rabbit named Harvey, and happily introduces him to everyone he meets. While he seems harmless, his sister (Josephine Hull) wants to commit him to a sanitarium, and in a comedy of errors, gets locked up herself. From there it's a series of screwball moments, with the hospital staff trying to track down Elwood, and him oblivious to it all. 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.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 27, 2014
    A pleasant, whimsical, charming, warm-hearted comedy.
    Dannielle A Super Reviewer
  • Oct 16, 2014
    This sweet movie is adorable like James Stewart's character, who charms us distributing business cards and being nice to everyone that he meets, while Josephine Hull deserved the Oscar she won for her hilarious, on-the-edge-of-hysteria performance.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 29, 2014
    It has some annoying nuances, as you would expect from a comedy of errors, but it's also very charming, enjoyable, and I loved that it didn't go where I dreaded it would. I like that it's not just saying one thing, and there's some things to think about. At the beginning, it makes you think "no, I don't want to have anything to do with this 'crazy' man" But as the film goes by, and we meet Elwood (and Harvey) through the eyes of multiple people with different opinions and also their similar stand on the situation "we need to 'cure' him." But at the same time, we agree, "he's a sweet, sweet man." One of my favorite things about Elwood's character is his personification of Harvey as an aid to other people's worries: "He's bigger than anything they carry" or something to that effect. Specificity aside, the quote is sensible and sentimentalist, one that I would say represents the heart of the film. Another aspect I love about this film is Josephine Hulls' performance; she's a sweet, dignified lady whose acting style fit the movie's mood perfectly and trailblazed the appeal for the rest of the characters. It's an interesting mix of fantasy and reality, and it did keep my attention throughout. Great movie, and it won my favor.
    Diego T Super Reviewer

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