Harvey (1950)

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Released 15-Aug-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Introduction-By James Stewart, with photographic montage
Theatrical Trailer-1:28
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1950
Running Time 100:06
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:24) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Henry Koster
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring James Stewart
Josephine Hull
Peggy Dow
Charles Drake
Jesse White
Victoria Horne
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Frank Skinner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Portuguese
Dutch
Swedish
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Hebrew
Arabic
Russian
Turkish
Greek
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Harvey was, initially, a stage play. It won its author, Mary Chase, a Pulitzer prize, so I think we can assume it was a good stage play. Mary Chase was involved in adapting the play for the movie. James Stewart took the lead role in the stage play for over six months before making the movie version, as did Josephine Hull. These are all good signs! Interestingly, the consensus of the time seems to be that the movie turned out even better than the play.

    Given that I was several years away from being born when the play was circulating, I missed out on seeing the live performance. I also missed the theatrical release of the movie (for the same reason). Fortunately, due to our little optical disc of wonders, I get a chance to see a movie I've been keen to see for quite some time.

    Harvey is not the film I was led to believe. I had gathered, from references to the film, that it was about a drunk who sees a hallucination due to being drunk, or suffering from delirium tremens. That's not exactly the case.

    Harvey is a very large rabbit, well over 6 feet tall (James Stewart points out that although the script says 6 foot 3, he played Harvey as being about 6 foot 8 so he could look up to him). He is the near-constant companion of Elwood Dowd (James Stewart). Most of the time, only Elwood can see Harvey, but Elwood is very polite — he introduces everyone he meets to Harvey as though they can see him; he's too polite to remark upon their failure to notice him. Elwood is a very nice man. He will listen politely to anyone, he will oblige someone who asks him to do something, and he invites people around to dinner often. He doesn't need to work, because he has inherited plenty of money, so he spends most of his time in bars, drinking martinis. He seems to be somewhat intoxicated most of the time, but that doesn't stop him from being a really sweet guy.

    Elwood's sister, Veta Louise Simmons (Josephine Hull), is trying to introduce her daughter, Myrtle Mae Simmons (Victoria Horne) to society. The only problem she has is that they must live with Elwood, having no money of their own, and he has a tendency to introduce Harvey to all the society women who come to visit — the society women seem to leave fairly rapidly after being introduced. Veta decides that Elwood has gone too far one afternoon, and so she tries to get Elwood committed to Chumley's Rest, a sanatorium for disturbed minds. There is something of a mix-up with Dr Sanderson (Charles Drake), Nurse Kelly (Peggy Dow), and the orderly, Wilson (Jesse White), and, well, you'll see...

     This is a charming story, well-told, that you could happily watch with the entire family, although, as James Stewart points out in his introduction, you may have to explain to children why they can't see Harvey. It has an unexpected moral, and it bears repeated viewing to get the most out of it. I'll certainly be watching it again. Strongly recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The original theatrical aspect of this film was the Academy ratio of 1.37:1. This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is understandably not 16x9 enhanced. I doubt anyone could tell the difference between 1.37 and 1.33.

    The image is a bit low resolution, resulting in an image that's not too sharp. Shadow detail is adequate, but not good. Film grain doesn't seem to be a problem. There's no low-level noise to worry about.

    The film is monochrome, and ranges from a good solid black through to an almost white, with plenty of shades of grey in between. There are no instances of false colouration, which is good.

    There are lots of film artefacts, but most of them are small (flecks, spots, and chips), except for the not-uncommon short hairs and scratches. Unfortunately, this transfer has been taken from a display print, as witnessed by the reel change markings (clearly visible at 37:17 and 89:45, for example). The film is in reasonable shape for a film over 50 years old.

    There's frequent aliasing that's minor on a progressive system, but a lot more obvious on a non-progressive system. There's quite a bit of moiré (which has to be expected with the prevalence of patterned fabrics), but it is generally below troubling levels. There are no MPEG artefacts, but there's near-constant shimmer; it's not too objectionable on a progressive system, but becomes much more troubling on a non-progressive system.

    There are subtitles in sixteen languages, including English. I only watched the English subtitles — they are easy to read, well-timed, and quite accurate.

    The disc is single sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 58:24 on a black frame between scenes — it is quite difficult to see.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in five languages, all in Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround-encoded, at 192kbps. I only listened to the English, which sounds quite mono; it's also a bit restricted in frequency response, too — there's not much in the way of bass. There is occasional hiss, but no pops or crackles.

    The dialogue is quite clear and easy to understand. There are no blatant audio sync problems, although there are moments when the sync looks marginal.

    The score, from Frank Skinner, is quite pleasant, but only comes into play occasionally — the majority of dialogue comes over silence rather than music.

    The surrounds and subwoofer are not needed by this soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The main menu is animated with music. It's easy to operate.

Introduction (7:11)

    An interesting introduction from Jimmy Stewart, with him speaking over a series of still photographs.

Trailer (1:28)

    The trailer has crackly, distorted sound, and plenty of film artefacts.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc sounds quite similar to this one, but with fewer soundtrack and subtitle languages. It is supposed to have production notes and film highlights, and no trailer, but it has the introduction, just like this one.

    The big difference is that the Region 1 disc is reported to have rather a good transfer, with few film artefacts and minimal grain. Sounds like the Region 1 may be the version of choice this time.

Summary

    A truly delightful movie, on a DVD that's not too good.

    The video quality is fairly poor.

    The audio quality is adequate.

    The extras are minimal, although I do like the introduction.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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