75 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Elwood P. Dowd is happy to share a drink with anybody he meets, and he likes to give them his card and invite them to have dinner at his home. His charm is disarming. People will tell their troubles over a drink, he says. Then he introduces them to his friend, Harvey, and Harvey is sooo much bigger than anything they've got... Harvey is an invisible (usually), six-foot tall white rabbit. Harvey is also too big for Elwood's society-conscious sister, Veta, and her unattached daughter, Myrtle Mae, to cope with. Veta makes a mistake, however, when she tries to get Elwood committed to a sanatorium.
Jimmy Stewart is superb as Elwood P. Dowd, but Josephine Hull steals the show as his totally flustered sister. She is, quite simply, at her wits' end. This is one of only two movies that I know of that feature Hull (the other is "Arsenic and Old Lace"). Both are personal favorites, and Hull is excellent in both. The rest of the cast is also outstanding in this adaptation from a classic Broadway play. Many moments are hilarious, some are touching, and it all adds up to a terrific movie. This witty romp will be welcome in almost anyone's video library.
46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2002
"Harvey" a play written by Mary Chase began its long run on Broadway in 1944 and won the Pultizer Prize for best original American play in the same year. Harvey ran for another 4 years for a total of 1775 appearances. In 1950 Universal Studios acquired the film rights for a whopping $750,000 and signed Jimmy Stewart as the fun loving inebriate Elwood P. Dowd wealthy aire to the Dowd estate.
Summary; Harvey is a whimsical story about a fun loving inebriate millionaire Elwood P. Dowd (Stewart - he is perfectly cast - in an Oscar Nomination Role for Best Actor) & his very large white invisible rabbit (6 foot 8 inches), Harvey. Through his eccentric behavior with his friend Harvey, aggravates & is a constant embarressment to his family, especially his sister Vera Louise (Josephine Hull - she came from the original Broadway cast - in an Oscar Winning performance - Best Supporting Actress). Vera tries everyway to have Elwood addmitted to a mental hospital. A wonderous journey & many funny turn of events occur. And how everyones lives are effected by this unusual pair.
The DVD is a Black & White Full Screen (before WideScreen) presentation. The video transfer is outstanding. The extras/bonus materials include a 1990 Jimmy Stewart "Special introduction with photographic montage", production notes, mini bios & trailer. A great family film. Enjoy.
65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
"Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it." That cheerful comment sets the tone for "Harvey," a movie about a lovable guy whose way of dealing with the harshness of reality is simple: Make his own.
Veta Louise Simmons (Josephine Hull) hopes to arrange a wonderful marriage for daughter Myrtle May (Victoria Horne) in the upper echelons of society. There's one problem: her wealthy brother Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) has an imaginary pal, a six-foot-three rabbit called Harvey. After Elwood accidently wrecks a party by introducing Harvey to everyone, Veta decides to have him committed.
Unfortunately, when Veta takes Elwood to the sanatorium, the staff come to think that the fluttery socialite is crazy, and is trying to get her sunny brother out of the way. So they lock her up, and let him go. After that mistake is straightened out, the psychiatric staff and Elwood's long-suffering family try to find him.... and Harvey.
If we ever saw Elwood P. Dowd ("Here, let me give you one of my cards") in a car, the bumper sticker would probably say, "Reality is highly overrated." The big theme of the movie is that reality can be harsh, and that it's not necessarily a bad thing to lapse out of it into the fantasies of our own minds. If Elwood isn't dangerous and is otherwise normal, who cares if he has an imaginary friend?
Is Harvey real? The film leaves that up to our imaginations. And in the end, it doesn't matter if Harvey is a figment of Elwood's imagination, or a friendly spirit. It's the effect he has on Elwood that is important. His presence makes Elwood happy and relaxed, and Elwood makes others happy and relaxed -- even the hard-boiled head of the psychiatric ward, who lies down on his own couch and tells his secrets to Elwood.
This actually isn't too screwballish a comedy -- sure, there's the running joke where Elwood politely introduces Harvey to people he meets. And the scene where Veta is committed is hilarious. But it's more of a heartwarmer than a comedy, from Elwood softening the lead shrink to Myrtle May finding love with a lovable blue-collar worker from the sanatorium.
James Stewart gives a wonderfully dreamy performance, slightly smelling of booze and flowers -- his Elwood P. Dowd is mild-mannered, sweet, gallant, courteous, and oh-so-pleasant. And he's learned the value of just enjoying the little things in life, like a flower, a beer or a talk with a friend. And Josephine Hull brings up a brilliant performance as his frazzled sister, with several other good actors rounding off the supporting cast.
Who is crazier -- the happy man with the imaginary rabbit, or the people who want him to be 100% sane and less happy? You make the call. With a sweet, surreal story and a flawless cast "Harvey" is one of those rare movies that does an unspecifiable number on your heartstrings.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Harvey is one of my favorite black and white classic movies.
Jimmy Stewart is Elwood P. Dowd, an ever so tipsy gentleman, that introduces his friend, Harvey, to almost everyone he meets.
Harvey happens to be a six foot invisible rabbit, a pooka! A pooka, according to Irish folklore, is a mischievous spirit, especially one that takes on the form of an animal. In this instance the pooka is a rabbit, one that only Elwood P. Dowd can see. A pooka can enter through locked doors and windows and is said to be here and there, there and here, everywhere and anywhere.
Elwood P. lives with his easily flustered sister, Veta Louise, superbly played by Josphine Hull, and her daughter, Myrtle Mae (Victoria Horne). Myrtle Mae desperately wants to get married and, Uncle Elwood, because of Harvey, stands in the way. Elwood will do anything to keep Veta Louise happy even if it means being sent to a sanitarium. This is where everything literally goes crazy!
Poor Veta Louise is mistaken as the one being commited! Enter in the man of Myrtle Mae's dreams in the form of Wilson, a male nurse played by Jesse White, the first Maytag repairman. Myrtle Mae's romance with Wilson gets off to a rocky start when he is the one who must forcefully keep Veta Louise locked in the sanitarium. Every time she sees him she screams and says, "Stay away from that man, Myrtle Mae, and keep him away from me"!
Complicating matters further at the sanitarium, is the relationship, or lack of one, between Dr. Sanderson, (Charles Drake) and Nurse Kelly, (Peggy Dow). They are in charge when the mixup happens and find themselves having to find Elwood P. and bring him back.
Dr. Chumley, played by the talented Cecil Kellaway, is the head of the sanitarium. He encounters Elwood P. Dowd and Harvey and soon develops a bond with Harvey. Dr. Chumley wants Harvey to stay with him and Elwood, who wants what's best for Harvey, reluctantly leaves without his best friend.
The bewildered, impatient taxi driver, played by talented Wallace Ford, (I know you will recognize him) drives the family back and forth to the sanitarium. He and Veta Louise's friend and, not so secret admirer, Judge Gaffney, played by the scraggly voiced William Lynn, add wonderful color to the story. If you have never seen this movie, now in DVD, you will be in for a treat! ~ Mrs. B.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2004
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
"I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it."
Jimmy Stewart, in one of his personal favorite film and stage roles, portrays Elwood P. Dowd, a gentle philosopher and harmless alcoholic who, after his mother's death, befriends an imaginary - or is he? - 6'3.5" white rabbit; a "Pooka" who goes by the name of Harvey. Unfortunately, it seems that Harvey is invisible to everyone but Elwood. Elwood wanders through life perfectly happy, harming no one, but alienating his family and many of the townspeople with his "friend".
Josephine Hull, (who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the film; she also played the part on stage) portrays his sister Veta Louise Simmons, and she steals the film, IMO; her facial expressions and gestures are priceless (she also played one of the aunts in "Arsenic and Old Lace", 1944).
The pacing is fast and furious, and the dialogue alternately hilarious and touching in this whimsical, bittersweet tale of illusions and realities. Jimmy Stewart found himself personally identified with the role for many years, much to his delight, remarking in interviews how strangers would sometimes stop him in the street and seriously ask him if Harvey were with him, only to be kindly told, "No, he's at home today, with a slight cold" or some other humoring excuse for the lack of his invisible friend.
Of course the movie is dated and implausible today in several respects; however it still holds a gentle, childlike appeal that transcends time. It's a great, simply-told "feel-good" movie to start off the holiday season.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Finally, I found THE "Harvey" film on amazon.com! I've waited DECADES for the chance to buy this movie for my own home. Can any of you remember sitting in your childhood homes as little kids, watching the great Jimmy Stewart talk to a large (invisible) rabbit on your parents' old black & white TV? I remember seeing this movie but a few times, yet, each time, it always served as instant therapy for dissipating any anger toward the crazier people in my life. When I was a child, I thought it was funny that the movie showed a man who was being told to lose his imaginary friend. As an adolescent, I empathized with knowing what it is like to live with someone who, I thought, lived and worried in a world of their own making. And as an adult, I now realize that one can acknowledge the world of another, without having to remain there permanently. If you have ever suffered through the day-to-day trials of dealing with someone who lives by a grand set of rules different from your own (generational or cultural gap?), and if you have ever found yourself stressed from the craziness of it all, then maybe this wonderful and comical film will ease your frustration for a while each time you view it. As I remember this movie, it is a story that begins with the simple pleasures of courteous greetings, kindness to others and imaginary friends, then moves to one family's struggles with sanity, possible family separation, love and protection. It has a happy ending and, like the movie "It's a Wonderful Life", is a MUST for every family home library!
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Jimmy Stewart gives one of his best performances as Elwood P. Dowd, just about the nicest guy you could meet, but he drinks a little more than he should and has an invisible companion; a 6-foot tall rabbit named 'Harvey'. Stewart gives a priceless performance of timeless grace. The story and screenplay are high-class, and a supporting cast that's hard to beat, of which Josephine Hull stands out as Elwood's neurotic but well meaning sister. An enchanting film that has aged well, and that continues to delight families and children of all ages with its undeniable charm, and it's charismatic performances. The reason the film is so beloved is mainly because of the story, a man who is 'happy' and loved by everyone he knows, even though some people think he is crazy just because his best friend is a 'pooka'. The movie shows us that being 'friendly' and 'nice' to people is a great accomplishment in life, and that few people really treasure that. A great family film. From a scale of 1-10 I give this film a 9!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2003
I have been aware of "Harvey" for several years now, but had never actually seen it until I purchased this DVD. Of course with Jimmy Stewart in the lead role, my expectations were understandably high to begin with. I'm pleased to inform that this film doesn't fail to deliver. ****The film is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name. The play, written by Mary Chase ( who also helped with the screenplay), was written as a gift to help cheer a friend who lost a son in WW2. It translates wonderfully to the medium of film, largely due to the fact that most of the actors who appeared in the Broadway version were re-cast in their roles. Historically, this was not usually done in Hollywood. The film itself is "staged" very much like a play, with many long-shots, and is very engaging. ** Most surprising to me was the comedy. I expected it to be cute and charming, and as humorous as any 53 yr-old film could be. However this film isn't just a cutesy fairytale. I was very surprised and delighed with some of the situations and subject matter...HILARIOUS...some of which might have been considered a little bawdy back in 1950. This material has aged wonderfully. ** The cast is marvelous as well. Although Stewart felt that he portrayed his character a little too cute and dreamy, I found this to be one of his finest performances. He fills the cute and "crazy" character of Elwood P. Dowd with depth, wit, and more than a touch of pathos. And such was always the genious of Stewart...to have the ability to create a character that, no matter what, the world would welcome as a friend. He was a remarkable talent and has left a unfillable void with his passing. **Also remarkable is the performance of Josephine Hull who won the Academy Award for her role. I had never heard of nor seen her in anything before, so this was a real treat. Simply put, she is hilarious throughout the film. All in all, this is a highly enjoyable story that can certainly be enjoyed at face value, and/or can be used as a parable with a greater moral value.******About the DVD****** Although the film doesn't appear to have undergone a complete restoration as such before its transfer to DVD, whatever film elements were used for the transfer seem to be in great shape. For the most part, the picture is crisp with a good greyscale and minimal artifacts. The sound is 2 channel mono (2.0) and is adequate for a film of this age. As far as bonus material, while it would always be nice to have more, there are some fairly interesting production notes, and the cast bios. The best bonus however is a photo montage accompanied by a more recently recorded (1990) introduction by Jimmy Stewart. While it is informative, it's real value lies in just hearing Stewart speak, that familiar drawl...aged, yet still the voice of everyman. A Fabulous buy!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2004
Harvey is one of those rare films that contains side-splitting laughter as well as valuable content to enrich one's life. Harvey also provides much food for thought on the topic of insanity.
The story is about young, earnest Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) and his "friend," a six-foot tall, invisible white rabbit named Harvey. Much to the consternation of his sisters, everyone avoids the family because of Dowd's oddball character. True, Dowd spends much time at the bar, and there is a hint of tragedy in his past. But is that the reason for Harvey's . . . existence?
When Dowd's younger sister Myrtle Mae's society debut party is interrupted by Elwood introducing Harvey to the wealthy matrons in the parlor, that is the last straw for Elwood's older sister Vera. She decides to have Elwood committed to a mental institution, and promptly pays a visit to Chumley's Rest Home, where she pours out her story to the young attending physician. Much hilarity and misunderstanding ensues.
The black and white filmography only adds to the charm of this unique story. The supporting cast is tremendous. The lady who plays Vera reprises the role she played in the stage production of Harvey. Harvey is my number one favorite movie of all time.
James Stewart comments in the extras that people would come up to him all the time and inquire as to how Harvey was. At first he thought they were joking. Then he realized the folks were quite serious. So, he told them Harvey was doing wonderfully.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 1998
Format: VHS Tape
One of the few movies ever that looks directly into the soul of a person, this movie helps us see that perspective is everything. If Elwood had continued to live as something he was not, he would have never discovered that inside all of us is the beauty of our sense of whimsy and grace. Elwood enjoys his life and is not afraid of being who he really is. He accepts himself and those around him. His delightful and scatter-brain sister keeps trying to make life make sense and have it be structured. She represents us all. We want things to be the way they should be, not as they are. Most of the other characters are doing the same. They are running about at a frenetic and frenzied pace trying to make life work, while Elwood simply lets it happen. The opening scene is one where Elwood tears up a letter and instead connects with the real person giving it to him. Throughout the movie he connects with people on a real and human level. He often smells the flowers----quite a lesson for us all.