The Trouble with Harry (Alfred Hitchcock, 1955, USA)

    The Trouble with Harry is certainly one of Alfred Hitchcock's strangest films. Notably, the film doesn't feature any big stars. It was the debut feature of Shirley MacLaine, who plays the estranged wife of the titular character. The film, wedged in Hitchcock's filmography between several movie-star-driven thrillers, likely puzzled audiences when it was first released. The film was a box office failure in the US, although it did play longer in England and Europe. This makes sense about England, as Harry is more reminiscent of the British Ealing black comedies than anything Hitchcock was doing up to this point. The film is effectively based around a single joke, and if you don't find that joke funny, you will not like the film.

      One of the highlights of the film is the beautiful fall Vermont scenery, captured by cinematographer Robert Burks. The idyllic small-town setting (there is hardly a shot in the film where there is not a tree in sight) almost evokes David Lynch's Twin Peaks. The film tells the story of how various residents react to the presence of the dead body of another resident - Harry - who is found on a hillside. Very early on in the film, it is clear that Hitchcock is not going for realism. Many of the character's reactions to the body are absurd. 

      Those interested in what happened to Harry will be bored, as the film is more concerned with the dynamic of the townspeople who discover him, as well as their personal lives. The corpse is a quintessential MacGuffin. Over time the two couples who discover Harry fall in love. Harry is not a terrible film by any stretch, but it is overall a minor one in Hitchcock's filmography. Recommended for only true Alfred Hitchcock fans and completists of his filmography.


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