The Trouble with Harry (1955)

PG   |    |  Comedy, Mystery

The Trouble with Harry (1955) Poster

The trouble with Harry is that he is dead and, while no one really minds, everyone feels responsible. After Harry's body is found in the woods, several locals must determine not only how and why he was killed but what to do with the body.




  • Shirley MacLaine and John Forsythe in The Trouble with Harry (1955)
  • Dwight Marfield in The Trouble with Harry (1955)
  • Shirley MacLaine and John Forsythe in The Trouble with Harry (1955)
  • Royal Dano in The Trouble with Harry (1955)
  • Shirley MacLaine and John Forsythe in The Trouble with Harry (1955)
  • Edmund Gwenn and Mildred Natwick in The Trouble with Harry (1955)

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28 July 2005 | jaywolfenstien
No trouble at All
So it begins, the famous collaboration between suspense maestro Hitchcock and composer legend Herrmann to bring the world . . . a comedy? I went into the film not really knowing what to expect, though with Hitchcock's name I assumed thriller. Within minutes, though, Hitch and Benny helped me shift gears and accept Trouble with Harry for what it is: a tongue-in-cheek ride with a side of murder and a wicked sense of humor and dead on timing.

Within the opening five minutes, my jaw dropped at the sheer ludicrousy of the movie's premise – the offbeat reactions of all the characters to the troubled Harry – and how I laughed at the audacity the film had to throw so many off the wall characters into a situation that grew more and more outrageous with every passing frame and keep running with a straight face.

We get a retired ship captain, an old woman looking for love, a troubled widow, an artist with a taste for the weird, a dead guy, and it only gets more and more strange, folks. The plot? It goes in circles over and over and over again, and not much really happens as this group tries to figure out Harry and what to do with him. Needless to say, The Trouble with Harry walks dangerously close to disaster, but Hitchcock does something remarkable: he lets his style seduce the audience into suspending their disbelief, sitting back, and trusting the master of black comedy.

That is what I love about Hitchcock and about Trouble with Harry – he is so confident in his films and his audience that he knowingly presents the absurd where other filmmakers wouldn't dare go in fear of losing the audience. He knows precisely which ties to reality he can afford to cut free, and he so gracefully and fearlessly lets go of "realism" in favor of his own flavor of the surreal. The Trouble with Harry presents some of the goofiest characters to ever appear on screen with some of the strangest logic-defying ideas, and I love them for it.

How does it work? The film simply resonates with the charms Hitchcock fans have grown to adore – how the grassy hill looked like a set, the witty dialogue between the characters (the captain and Sam cracked me up every time), the mastery of frame composition (loved the first few shots of Harry), and Bernard Herrmann's delightful score that perfectly reflects the tone and feel of the film. Murder never felt so whacky and wonderful. It's that same world of Hitchcock that made us, the audience, forget about logic and realism when we viewed North by Northwest, Psycho, and Rear Window.

Realism is boring. As Sir Alfred, himself, stated, "Most films are slices of life. Mine are slices of cake." And indeed, his world is so much more fun. Screw reality.

This movie is a gem that's easily overlooked since it is a comedy by the "master of suspense." Fans already know he had also mastered the art of black comedy, and the only phrase I need in describing the film to fellow Hitch fans is "pure cinema." The Trouble with Harry is Hitchcock at his best, and it's no trouble at all to sit through.

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