Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Imagine Rope, But Funny, or Thoughts on The Trouble With Harry

A more romantic, less dangerous North by Northwest (1959), The Trouble With Harry (1955, from the 1949 novel of the same name by Jack Trevor Story, is a morbid whodunit where solving the murder takes second stage to Hitchcock’s town full of eccentrics and the gorgeous New England fall scenery.  The corpse is Harry; the trouble is what to do with the body and the villagers of Highwater, Vermont, who are far more concerned with the inconvenience of having a dead body lying around.
Nobody's interested in bothering the police with such a trivial matter as a strange dead body in the forest that everyone keeps stumbling across the body, sometimes literally, including a near-sighted hiker.  Shirley MacLaine, Warren Beatty’s older sister and Hollywood Royalty, is single mother Jennifer Rogers, who enjoys a breezy, To Catch a Thief (1955)-level flirty banter with Sam Marlowe, as portrayed by John Forsythe, the voice of Charlie in Charlie’s Angels and Blake Carrington in Dynasty.  Sam Marlowe’s a New York mid-century abstract artist, in town for inspiration and a quiet retreat.  Harry, coincidentally, is Jennifer’s now-dead, previously estranged husband.
With Royal Dano who you will remember as Tom Fury in Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) and Farmer Green in Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988).  Also look out for Jerry Mathers, Beaver from Leave it to Beaver as Jennifer’s son Arnie, who initially discovers the body.  Harry is not Arnie’s father, it’s complicated, just watch the movie.
Like a Chas Addams New Yorker cartoon come to life, the most ominous aspect of the film is the Bernard Herman soundtrack.  It’s the most light-hearted Hitchcock film he ever made, an East Coast romance closer to Frank Capra’s Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) with a dash of George Cukor’s The Philadelphia Story (1940) than any of his films.
The Hitchcock cameo occurs on the road by Sam’s roadside gallery in front of Wiggs Emporium.  What’s he doing there?  I mean, besides directing the movie?    He’s walking down a country road in a beige raincoat on a sunny day, in a village where everyone knows everyone.  It adds another level of quirky mystery to an already quirky movie, without that misanthropic undercurrent present in so many of his thrillers.



my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).