Harvey (1950)

Amiable drunk James Stewart befriends an invisible six-foot-tall rabbit in this classic Hollywood charmer, which wittily explores society’s attitudes to those who don’t conform.

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“If you’re for warm and gentle whimsy, for a charmingly fanciful farce, and for a little touch of pathos, then the movie version of Harvey is definitely for you.”
Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, 1950

Mary Chase’s Pulitzer-winning comedy ran for five years on Broadway, three of them with James Stewart playing Elwood P. Dowd, the boozy eccentric whose constant companion is a ‘pooka’ (a mischievous spirit from Celtic mythology) only he can see.

Bing Crosby was Hollywood’s first choice, but Stewart turned in one of his most fondly remembered screen performances, capturing the innocent warmth and disappointed sadness of a man whose retreat from social responsibilities is far from evidence of insanity.

Director Henry Koster wisely opted not to visualise the titular man-sized rabbit, instead capturing the fizzing dialogue of the theatrical original, while stage veteran Josephine Hull won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress as the confused sister who almost believes in Harvey herself.

Jake Gyllenhaal finds his sanity questioned after befriending a somewhat less benevolent giant rabbit in Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko (2001).

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