Starring: John Forsythe, Shirley MacLaine, Edmund Gwenn
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Running Time: 99 mins
The Trouble With Harry is an American film about a group of people who come together after a dead body is found, but they all have different ideas about what to do with it.
Hitchcock? Comedy? Could this really work? Well, not quite. Although some of Hitchcock’s best films would be nowhere without some fantastic humour and repartee, The Trouble With Harry doesn’t quite work out in the same way, getting a little lost by the wayside as it fumbles its way to an awkward balance between Hitchcockean mystery and simple comedy, making for a passable, but largely unimpressive watch.
The film isn’t by any means an awful watch, and there are still all the hallmarks of Hitchcock’s directing brilliance to see. For example, when the film is actively trying to be tense and develop the mystery, it’s actually pretty interesting and exciting to watch, despite the fact that the breaks for some lighter moments really disrupt the flow of it all.
With a couple of decent performances too, namely those from John Forsythe and Shirley MacLaine, who bring a little bit of very much needed dramatic gravitas to the story, there are some really great moments throughout the movie, all of which point towards a story that could have been a lot more if it had played out like a normal Hitchcok thriller.
It’s always nice to see directors trying something a little different, especially when it’s someone so famed for one genre, but I have to say that the trouble with The Trouble With Harry itself is that it’s just not entertaining enough to justify itself as a much lighter version of the typical Hitchcockean masterpiece.
While Hitchcock has proven he can do humour incredibly well (Rear Window, North By Northwest and so many more of his best thrillers would be nowhere without his great wit), it seems that his hand doesn’t work quite as well when trying to be directly funny above all else. You can tell that there’s still a real desire to create a proper thriller with The Trouble With Harry, but it creates a frustrating genre clash that makes for a difficult watch all the way through, and making the potentially interesting mystery story a lot less so with awkward breaks for less-than-successful comedy.
On the whole, I think there is a some merit in this film, particularly to see Hitchcock trying something very different from his normal fare, and although it doesn’t quite work out, due to relatively underwhelming humour and a huge clash of genres between comedy and mystery-thriller, there are moments where the master of suspense’s genius does shine through, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.0.