Most helpful positive review
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Unexpectedly different mystery comedy from the Master
on October 6, 2002
Hitchcock was hardly a one-note director. He functioned in a variety of modes, and while the various films he made possessed a family resemblance to one another, they are not monolithically the same. If one only allows him or herself to enjoy the out-and-out suspense films like NORTH BY NORTHWEST or STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, this could very possibly be a film that will not bring pleasure or enjoyment. But if, instead, the viewer is able to be open to something a little bit different, this film can be a source of unexpected delight.
I first saw this film as part of the revival of the "Five Missing Hitchcock" Films in the early 1980s, the others being THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (the Jimmy Stewart version), REAR WINDOW, ROPE, and VERTIGO. While VERTIGO and REAR WINDOW were the two films causing the biggest stir, I was pleasantly surprised by THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY. Hitchcock has always vacillated between comedy and suspense, with some films containing more, and others less, of the former. Except for MR. AND MRS. SMITH, however, this film comes the closest of any of his films to pure comedy.
The trouble with Harry, of course, is that he is dead and won't stay buried. The other trouble is that a vast number of individuals may have had a motive for killing him. But how and why he died is decidedly unimportant. Instead, his corpse provides the basis for a series of mildly complicated situations, as his body is shifted and moved and brooded over.
This movie was the extraordinarily cute Shirley MacLaine's film debut, and she is enormously fetching in it. John Forsythe plays the male lead, but the woodenness of his performance mars his performance somewhat (for the uninitiated, he later was the voice of "Charlie" on CHARLIE'S ANGELS). Several reviewers have noted the presence of the Beaver, Jerry Mathers. Edmund Gwenn, who as he often does, nearly steals the film as Captain Wiles, appears here in his first Hitchcock film since portraying incongruously but magnificently an assassin in FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT in 1940.
Hitchcock filmed THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY on location in Vermont, the most recognizable shots being in one of my favorite towns in America: Craftsbury. I have stayed in inns in Craftsbury on three separate occasions during the fall foliage season (this film was shot with the leaves changing), and I can testify that it is every bit as lovely, albeit a touch more developed, as it appears in this film.
By the way, I'm in love with Harry's tie. The fifties was probably the best decade for ties, with wonderful designs.
This film isn't for everyone, but if you are willing to be flexible, and not be disappointed when this turns out not to be REBECCA or THE BIRDS, then I think most viewers will find a great deal to enjoy and smile about.