There is a dead well dressed man in a meadow clearing in the hills above a small Vermont town. Captain Albert Wiles, who stumbles across the body and finds by the man's identification that his name is Harry Worp, believes he accidentally shot Harry dead while he was shooting for rabbits. Captain Wiles wants to hide the body as he feels it is an easier way to deal with the situation than tell the authorities. While Captain Wiles is in the adjacent forest, he sees other people stumble across Harry, most who don't seem to know him or care or notice that he's dead. One person who does see Captain Wiles there is spinster Ivy Gravely, who vows to keep the Captain's secret about Harry. One person who Captain Wiles sees but doesn't see him back is young single mother Jennifer Rogers, who is the one person who does seem to know Harry and seems happy that he's dead. Later, another person who stumbles across both Harry and Captain Wiles is struggling artist Sam Marlowe, to who Captain Wiles ... Written by
Outlandish black comedy from Hitch, a failure when released as it was probably a little ahead of its time.
The Trouble With Harry is a comedy film about a dead body. Alfred Hitchcock makes the macabre concept deliciously funny and entertaining in his unique style. Helping Hitchcock to turn this unlikeliest of premises into an enjoyable film are Bernard Herrmann (providing fabulous music scoring), and a cast of winning actors who judge to perfection how far to push their tongues into their cheeks.
A dead body turns up on a patch of grass near the top of a wooded New England hill. Various people have reason to believe that they're responsible for the man's death. Septugenarian ex-sea captain Albert Wiles (Edmund Gwenn) is worried that he might have accidentally shot the man while hunting for rabbits. Old spinster Miss Gravely (Mildred Natwick) fears that when she whacked the man over the head with her shoe, she may have done more damage than she intended. And single mother Jennifer (Shirley MacLaine) has even greater cause to feel responsible, for she is the dead man's wife. During an argument, she smashed a bottle over his head and is now almost sure that he died as a result. Local artist Sam Marlowe (John Forsythe) decides to help his neighbours to cover up the crime, but after burying and digging up the corpse several times, the truth behind "Harry's" death is finally revealed.
No Hitchcock film divides viewers more than this one. Some consider the film a masterpiece of understated black comedy; others deem it a plot less, pointless time-waster. The film was a fairly massive box office flop at the time (audiences obviously felt from the movie poster that they were going to see a murder mystery, and were disappointed to actually find themselves experiencing a bizarre, off-kilter black comedy). In retrospect, I'd say The Trouble With Harry is a great film that was probably a good two decades ahead of its time. The performances are wonderfully outrageous, especially the elders (Gwenn and Natwick) who give perceptive comic turns that actors nowadays just don't seem to have the range to do. Forsythe and MacLaine are delightful too (the latter in her movie debut), and Royal Dano rounds off the cast as a gullible cop who nearly finds out that the other four have been up to no good. There's no doubt that The Trouble With Harry is an acquired taste; but if this taste is to your liking then you're in for a delectable treat!
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