Friday, February 22, 2013

The Trouble with Harry (Alfred Hitchcock, 1955)

Coming between the frothy cinematic confection of TO CATCH A THIEF and the lavish, suspenseful remake of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY easily gets lost in the shuffle. A droll, quirky and off-beat film from the Master of Suspense, THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY is actually a pleasant little black comedy, with some charming performances set against gorgeous production values (especially the location shots of Vermont in the fall).

Despite the darkness of the premise (a dead body is found and several innocent people believe they are responsible), THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY displays Hitchcock's penchant for comedy which was really present in his films all along. The film is aided by strong performances all around, including veterans Edmund Gwenn and Mildred Natwick, and newcomer Shirley MacLaine.

THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY ultimately feels like a throwback to Hitchcock's earlier, British films, which often reflected a more diverse approach from their director in the days before he became so strongly identified with the suspense film. The comedy recalls moments of films such as THE FARMER'S WIFE and RICH AND STRANGE, with their emphasis on quirky characters and charming domestic humor. The humor won't be to everyone's taste, but to those who like their comedy on the dark side, it works.

While the film can be considered something of a low-key, minor work coming between much larger and commercially mainstream efforts, one still clearly detects the assured hand of a master filmmaker working at his peak period of creativity.

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