Why Now is the Perfect Time to See Harvey

Why Now is the Perfect Time to See Harvey
At the time this article is published, most of the world remains grounded due to the Covid-19 pandemic. People have been urged to stay in their homes as much as possible, and many have complied. It goes without saying that after spending months in veritable seclusion, people might start to see things.

Oddly enough, no one has reported seeing a six-foot tall pooka. Yet.

The film Harvey may be what the world needs right now. Throughout the film, the central characters, Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) and Harvey (as himself), maneuver their way in and out of the lives of strangers and friends alike, drinking martinis and delivering peace to the restless and joy to the burdened.

Peace and joy during turbulent times? Quite a lot to accomplish, but all in a day’s work for these two.

Harvey, written by Mary Chase, first played out on the stage in 1944, another rough period for the world.

Chase was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for this story about kindhearted Elwood and his best friend Harvey, the invisible pooka. It was reported that she wrote Harvey to cheer up a widowed neighbor who had lost her son during the war.

It was her intention to provide a bit of joyfulness during a sad time, and she certainly accomplished her goal. Watching Harvey not only provides viewers a much-needed respite from harsh reality, it is a lesson in acceptance and authenticity that lingers long after the final credits.

The question of reality – what is real and what is not – is left for the audience to decide. How to deal with said reality, is another issue. Elwood has already made his decision, which he happily reports to the psychiatrist.

“I wrestled with reality for thirty-five years, doctor, and I’m happy to state that I finally won out over it.”

Because Elwood and Harvey do not accept reality as it is presented to them, the audience can do the same. They are given the chance to believe in something bigger than themselves, something larger than their troubles. That is, if they choose to do so.

And what could be larger than a talking white rabbit named Harvey?

Although there are several poignant moments, most of the film is light and breezy thanks to the supporting cast of quirky characters played by Josephine Hull, Jesse White, Victoria Horne and Cecil Kellaway.

A scene which is particularly moving takes place in the alley behind Charlie’s Bar. Elwood’s speech is both tender and gripping. The heart of the play lies in this scene.

Hull was awarded an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Elwood’s daffy sister, Veta Louise. Hull originated the role on stage and is hilarious in this part.

Finally, let’s not forget the brilliant work of the pooka himself. Harvey hits all of the right notes in his portrayal and it is assured that you have never seen anything like him.

Therefore, if your reality is running rough right now, and you need a thoughtful and fun diversion from today’s real-world problems, it is highly recommended that you see Harvey.

That is… if you can.

NOTE: I screened this film at my own expense and not at the request of any outside company or service. Free-to-view versions might be available digitally. This film may also be available for purchase or through subscription-based services.

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This content was written by Lucinda Moriarty. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Lucinda Moriarty for details.