“The Trouble with Harry” is probably the strangest Hitchcock film I have seen to date. What is it? A murder mystery? A comedy? A satire? Well whatever it is the hodgepodge just doesn’t work.
The movie stars Edward Gwenn (Santa from Miracle on 34th Street) as Captain Albert Wiles, an aging senior citizen who is out hunting one day for some rabbits. He shoots what he thinks is a rabbit but it turns out to be a married man named Harry. Wiles is beside himself what to do and the shame of being a murderer weighs heavy on him. He tries to hide the body but the local townspeople keep stumbling in on him including local artist Sam Marlowe (John Forsythe). What is Wiles to do?
Hitchcock was never really good at putting comedic moments in his films. He just never had the right touch to get the comedic timing correct. This is especially evident with “Harry”. When the townsfolk start discovering the body it is almost slapstick but shot so completely stiff.
What is completely strange about the film is the way the people react to seeing a dead body. Nobody questions each other or doubts each other. It seems as common as baking an apple pie. The people keep trying to hide it from the sheriff (Royal Dano) but I just don’t understand how they all react. And especially with this coming from an expert director who knows murder and the consequences.
Then there is various subplots with Forsythe having the hots for local girl Jennifer (Shirley MacLaine). This was Shirley’s first ever film and you can really tell. Forsythe tries to be suave but it is almost like Hitchcock was wanting him to be Cary Grant.
The best performances are from Edward Gwenn and Mildred Donnock as two older people trying to reignite what it is to fall in love again.
“Trouble with Harry” is one of the weakest films from Hitchcock but it probably is a good reminder on why Hitchcock stayed away from comedies.
2.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer