The Trouble with Harry (1955)

Sixty-seven years ago today, the film The Trouble with Harry premiered in Barre, Vermont (the location where it was filmed) with the proceeds from ticket sales being donated to the victims of a recent flood. It stars Shirley MacLaine in her film debut, John Forsythe, Jerry Mathers, Edmund Gwenn, and two Mildreds: Natwick and Dunnock. Saying it is an Alfred Hitchcock dark comedy staring those actors should be enough for you to immediately seek it out. It also has one of the best mid-century film soundtracks. You need to watch this movie.

Title: The Trouble with Harry
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay by: John Michael Hayes
Based on: The Trouble with Harry 1950 novel by Jack Trevor Story
Produced by: Alfred Hitchcock
Edmund Gwenn as Capt. Albert Wiles, John Forsythe as Sam Marlowe, Shirley MacLaine as Jennifer Rogers, Mildred Natwick as Miss Ivy Gravely, Mildred Dunnock as Mrs. Wiggs, Jerry Mathers as Arnie Rogers, Royal Dano as Deputy Sheriff Calvin Wiggs, Parker Fennelly as Millionaire, Barry Macollum as Tramp, Dwight Marfield as Dr. Greenbow, Philip Truex as Harry Worp (the corpse, uncredited)
Cinematography: Robert Burks
Edited by: Alma Macrorie
Music by: Bernard Herrmann
Production Company: Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release date: September 30, 1955 (Barre, Vermont)
Running time: 99 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $1.2 million
Box office: $3.5 million

The quirky but down-to-earth residents of the small hamlet of Highwater, Vermont, are faced with the freshly dead body of Harry Worp (Philip Truex), which has inconveniently appeared on the hillside above the town. The problem of who the person is, who was responsible for his sudden death, and what should be done with the body is “the trouble with Harry”.

Captain Wiles (Edmund Gwenn) is sure that he killed the man with a stray shot from his rifle while hunting, until it is shown he actually shot a rabbit. Jennifer Rogers (Shirley MacLaine), Harry’s estranged wife, believes she killed Harry because she hit him hard with a milk bottle. Miss Gravely (Mildred Natwick) is certain that the man died after a blow from the heel of her hiking boot when he lunged at her out of the bushes, while still reeling from the blow he received at the hands of Jennifer. Sam Marlowe (John Forsythe), an attractive and nonconformist artist, is open-minded about the whole event, and is prepared to help his neighbors and new-found friends in any way he can. In any case, no one is upset at all about Harry’s death.

However, they all are hoping that the body will not come to the attention of “the authorities” in the form of cold, humorless Deputy Sheriff Calvin Wiggs (Royal Dano), who earns his living per arrest. The Captain, Jennifer, Miss Gravely and Sam bury the body and then dig it up again several times throughout the day. They then hide the body in a bathtub before finally putting it back on the hill where it first appeared, in order to make it appear as if it was just discovered.

Finally it is learned that Harry died of natural causes; no foul play at all was involved. In the meantime, Sam and Jennifer have fallen in love and wish to marry, and the Captain and Miss Gravely have also become a couple. Sam has been able to sell all his paintings to a passing millionaire, although Sam refuses money, and instead requests a few simple gifts for his friends and himself.

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