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  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
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  • Awards/Nominations - The Trouble With Harry Isn't Over

The Trouble With Harry

Paramount/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 95 mins . PG . PAL


Good eeeeeeeeeeeeeevening…

It's a beautiful autumn day, so won’t you join us for a pleasant romp through the fields of Vermont? Ah, but things aren’t necessarily so idyllic, as three gunshots disturb the pleasant birdsongs and gentle rustle of the leaves.

Along comes little Arnie (no, not the buff moofie-star!) and finds a body. He rushes off to tell his mother when the source of the gunshots, one Captain Wiles (Edmund Gwenn), who has been out hunting wascally wabbits, stumbles along and is horrified at what he discovers, and believes himself responsible for. His attempts at removing the body are somewhat hampered however by a veritable promenade of folk ambling by, from the bookish Miss Gravely (Mildred Natwick) to the absent-minded bookworm Dr Greenbald, to a hobo who souvenirs the stiff's shoes, an artist named Sam Marlowe (John Forsythe) and Arnie's mom Jennifer Rogers (Shirley Maclaine), who recognises the body as her former husband Harry. Strangely however she doesn’t seem too upset by the discovery...

So how do you solve a problem like Harry? Who of the many possible protagonists was responsible for his demise? How many times can you inter and dig up a corpse in just one day? And just who will find love via such a macabre situation?

"He looked exactly the same when he was alive. Except vertical"

The Trouble With Harry was quite the departure for Mr Hitchcock, in that rather than being another dark suspense/thriller it is much more a comedy, albeit a delightfully black one. Quite true to the novel by Jack Trevor Story, it was made much against Paramount's will - but being a pet project of Hitch's, and not wishing to have him offside, they succumbed to his wishes. It failed to be a commercial success in the US, however it did find much greater popularity in a less humour-impaired Europe, playing cinematically for more than a year in Paris alone.

Comedy or not, it is still most definitely able to be described as a whodunit, engaging your curiosity as you wonder just who out of most any of the cast was actually responsible for Harry's demise, as many of them had motives accidental or otherwise. Then there's the ever-present spectre of discovery by the rather nosy local constabulary looming. In all it probably serves as the most blatant example ever committed to film of Hitchcock's often underrated devilishly wicked sense of humour, made all the more clever here with the breezy and sunny outdoor setting juxtaposing wonderfully with the rather sick when you stop to think about it premise. Its success is all helped no end by a fabulous cast, notably the wizened Gwenn, incredibly young Forsythe and ever-stunning Maclaine, appearing here in her first ever movie role.


Hmm, it's all a bit suspicious. Apparently this film was released in 1956, however looking at the transfer you could easily be forgiven for thinking it was made a lot more recently. Given to us in its original ratio of 1.85:1 and also anamorphically enhanced, it looks absolutely stunning for a print of its 45 year vintage. The autumnal hues of New England are rendered gorgeously, with just the right amount of saturation, there are very few speckles throughout the film, no noticeable grain and sharpness and contrast are mostly brilliant throughout, except for a couple of scenes. Colour me impressed!

Usually I get to grumble about layer changes, especially on previous discs from this batch of Hitchcock releases, however this time they actually got it so right that you can scarcely notice it. It's placed in a fade to black with no visual or sonic interruption, and is very much deserving of praise.


Another mono affair, The Trouble With Harry doesn’t really suffer for it. A fine balance between dialogue and music is achieved throughout, with everything coming up perfectly clearly. A couple of scenes have obviously looped dialogue, with ever-so-slightly off kilter synch, however it doesn't have a particularly negative effect on proceedings.

The great Bernard Herrmann provided the music, and in fact this was the first of his many outings with Mr Hitchcock. A wonderfully quirky affair, as with many of Hitch's films his soundtrack adds to the overall enjoyment of the presentation immeasurably.


We only get another static and silent menu, but another nicely Hitchcock-themed affair, complete with that fab Alfred Hitchcock Presents... music that the other discs in this series also come with. From here we can opt for...

Making of - The Trouble With Harry Isn’t Over: Another fabulous recently-made peek behind the scenes, this 32-minute special features interviews with Hitch's daughter Patricia, actor John Forsythe, screenwriter John Michael Hayes, associate producer Herbert Coleman and Bernard Herrmann biographer Steven C Smith. Giving much insight into the locations used, the score and even the casting of Shirley Maclaine, it is another must-see for any Hitchcock aficionado. This feature is available with or without subtitles.

Art gallery: 38 pictures in all, the usual wonderful collection of lobby cards, promotional stills, behind the scenes photos and posters from around the world. For some reason most of them all come up rather 'bent' looking, but they are still well worth a quick look-see.

Trailer compilation: The same old same old that is also included on the discs for Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much and Rope. For the uninitiated it's an around six minute compilation hosted by Jimmy Stewart, and was put together in the '80s to promote the re-release of the five "missing" Hitch films (Vertigo being the other one) which Hitch had bought back from the studio to bequeath to his daughter Patricia.

Theatrical trailer: Is that a rat I smell? This is a decidedly ordinary and rather lack lustre full frame 2 and a half-minute trailer, and I have my suspicions that it most definitely isn’t the original theatrical one. In fact judging by the voiceover it would almost appear it was done quite recently with attempts to make it sound old. I may be entirely wrong of course, but this was the impression it gave.

4-page booklet with production notes: I do believe the released version of the disc comes with one of these (at least that is what the packaging claims), however the trouble here is that this review copy was booklet-less, so I can't really comment on it.


Managing to be beautifully un-Hitchcock in so many ways, yet totally Hitchcock in others, The Trouble With Harry is definitely a film for those who appreciate the master's humorous side. It's always been one of my favourite films from his huge canon of work, so I do have trouble not wholeheartedly recommending it as something that is just that little bit different.

The quality of this DVD is quite amazing, with a print that in light of its age is nothing less than superb, and yet another in a series of incredibly informative 'making of' presentations.

It's definitely worth going to the trouble to spend some time with Harry.

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      And I quote...
    "Beautifully un-Hitchcock in so many ways, yet totally Hitchcock in others, this is definitely a film for those who appreciate the master's humorous side..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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