Harvey/ movie review
When I first started watching the Harvey movie, I was about to switch programs, because I found it a little bit too old fashioned. In fact, I am glad I didn’t.
Through its actor James Steward in the role of Elwood P. Dowd, the movie raises the theme of madness. There is often a fine line between a so called normal individual and his crazy, original fellow. The definition of the state of madness varies from individual to individual and from psychiatrist to psychiatrist.
Elwood P is an individual who seems to be normal in appearance: he is nice, well behaved, willing to help and is rich of an altruist spirit.
Although he is never shown drinking in the movie, he is supposed to be a compulsive drinker.
In fact, Elwood lives in an imaginary world: his best friend is a pooka, a mythological creature, a 6 feet tall rabbit called Harvey. Does that make a dangerous individual of him? Probably not, but what bothers Elwood P s sister, Veta Louise Simmons (Josephine Hull) is the fact that Elwood P wants to introduce his buddy to her intimate circle of friends.
One day, she decides to take some concrete action and to get her brother looked up into a psychiatric hospital. The irony of the situation is that the doctor strongly believes she is the one who is hiding some big mental problems and decides to have her in his institution as his patient.
After a few misunderstandings and getting to meet Elwood P Dowd, the doctor realizes his mistake. As Veta Louise Simmons walks free from the hospital, everybody from doctor in chief to nurse is chasing Elwood P in order to get him captured.
The doctor is convinced that his case is a real strong mental case that needs to be treated.
Elwood P. is even willing to receive his treatment, an injection that will help preventing him from seeing his imaginary white rabbit. The treatment gets stopped by miracle in the last minute thanks to a taxi driver who makes Veta Louise realize that after the medical treatment his brother will resemble an average, normal individual, probably in all his indifference and coldness towards the outside world.
Elwood P might be a weirdo, he is also a man of heart with an exceptional kindness. His sister doesn t want to see those qualities disappear. She stops the treatment at the last minute and takes her brother home.
She is willing to live her daily life with Harvey, as long as there are no disturbances in the family s happiness. Harvey s invisible presence is now part of the family s history and you can see it in a loving rocking chair at the end of the movie while Elwood P and his sister are playing at the piano.
Elwood P is a touching character, that mostly raises a lot of sympathy among the viewers.
The movie leaves us all with an essential interrogation: is it better to be a cold, rational and ordinary individual that calculates each move in his life rather than a heartfelt, warm person with a widespread imagination and some living fantasies in his mind?
Should Elwood P. be judged as a fool, I d prefer his madness and warmth to the coldness and hypocrisy of many so called normal people to society s standards.
Maybe the morality of the movie is that having heart shouldn t be counted as nothing.
Harvey is an excellent movie, that goes back to 1950. Don t let its old fashioned ways prevent you from watching it, it is really worth it! I recommend it to all of you.
Copyright 2007 by Isabelle Esling
All Rights Reserved