Film / The Trouble with Harry

Over the years, Alfred Hitchcock gave the world such thrillers as Rebecca, Psycho and The Birds. He also gave us a few comedies, such as this one, a 1955 adaptation of Jack Trevor Story's novel. Originally the film was a box office failure but it has since become well regarded.

The residents of a small Vermont town are faced with the appearance of one Harry Worp. The trouble with Harry is that he's dead. Four people in particular are concerned with what to do with him: Captain Albert Wiles (Edmund Gwenn), who thinks he shot Harry on accident while hunting; Jennifer Rogers (Shirley MacLaine, in her film debut), who was his wife; Ivy Gravely (Mildred Natwick), who hit Harry in self-defense after he attacked her; and Sam Marlowe (John Forsythe), who never actually met Harry, but is interested in Jennifer. The rest of the movie is spent trying to figure out why he's dead, and more importantly, what to do with the body.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Artistic Title: The opening credits are shown while the camera scrolls along a stylized, childlike drawing (by The New Yorker cartoonist Saul Steinberg) of a house, trees, birds... and Harry's corpse.
  • Bernard Herrmann: Composed the music score, his first of several for Hitchcock.
  • Black Comedy: One of the true classics of the genre.
  • Brick Joke: After Sam sells some paintings to a millionaire, Sam details some items he'd like the other leads to receive in exchange. When Sam gets to what he'd like, he has to whisper it in the millionaire's ear. He also tells Jennifer, who responds, "Sounds practical." At the end of the movie, Sam finally tells Captain Wiles what he will get for the paintings, and the captain proceeds to tell Ms. Gravely: a double bed for Sam and Jennifer.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Sam's drawing of Harry.
    • Subverted with the opening closet. The Scare Chord that plays whenever it opens makes you think that it's going to have an important part to play in the plot. When it finally does open unexpectedly in front of the police, Harry's body isn't in it. He's in the tub instead. In the end it almost looks as an in-universe playing with the trope.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The tramp. He is later picked up by the police for taking Harry's shoes and is the one who informs them of the body.
  • Creator Cameo: Hitchcock can be seen walking in the background as the millionaire is examining Sam's paintings outside his parked limousine.
  • Dead Man's Chest
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sam
  • The End: "The trouble with Harry is over."
  • Everybody Did It: Subverted; everyone assumes they caused Harry's death. In the end, it's revealed he died naturally.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The movie's original trailer had one.
  • Goshdang It To Heck: When the Captain finds Harry's body, he exclaims ''For rice cake!"
  • Happily Ever After: "The trouble with Harry is over."
  • Hollywood New England: But the gorgeous autumn location footage makes it okay.
  • Lotsa People Try to Dun It: Multiple characters think they might have killed Harry, which results in his body behind moved multiple times as they try to hide their possible. In this case, none of them actually set out to murder him, but each one believes they may be guilty of at least manslaughter. It turns out none of them actually killed Harry.
  • MacGuffin: Harry
  • Maiden Aunt: Ivy Gravely
  • Meaningful Name: Ivy Gravely
  • Posthumous Character: The titular Harry.
  • Romancing the Widow: Sam and Jennifer.
  • Starving Artist: Sam