Deputy Sheriff Calvin Wiggs (standing) is no match for even these hapless would-be non-murderers.
Forget everything you know about Shirley MacLaine. Back in the day, she was a hottie.
In a way, Harry is about grace in the face of horror. As the characters in the film encounter the corpse, Harry Warp, each imagines him- or herself to be responsible for his death. Captain Wiles (Edmund Gwenn), for instance, thinks he may have shot him in a hunting accident, while Jennifer Rogers (the lucsiously kissable Shirley Maclaine) believes she killed him when she struck him over the head with a milk bottle. Yet, in all of this, the townspeople accept each other for what they are, seeing themselves in the others’ humanity and empathizing with their various predicaments. After all, they seem to agree, there are more important things in life than death. That’s why no one gets bent out of shape over Harry’s demise as they gladly and repeatedly disinter his body.
The face of death.
Mogg also notes Schopenhauer’s description of “the good character [who] lives in an eternal world that is homogeneous with his own true being. [Other people] are not non-I for him, but an ‘I once more’”. In other words, the Protestant saying “there but for the grace of God go I” is supplanted by the (I think) nobler and simpler “there go I”—regardless of the person being considered. The lesson of Harry is that we are all the other person—regardless of how “good” or “evil” that person may be perceived to be. This pastoral film sits naturally alongside Hitch’s 1943 Shadow of a Doubt. The common bond of mankind—for better or worse—is one of that film's themes, as well. Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) is the secret sharer, the metaphysical double to his niece Young Charlie (Teresa Wright). At first, she warms to this connection, but as the truth comes out and it is revealed that he is the Merry Widow Murderer, she recoils in horror. Nevertheless, their bond remains, just as Uncle Charlie said, “Were like twins.... You said yourself we're no ordinary uncle and niece, no matter what I've done.” Later, one of the townspeople says, “We feel you're one of us.” It's true—though we may be loathe to admit it.
Both of these movies consider what happens when evil is injected into an idyllic community. The inhabitants of Shadow weren’t, it seems, up to the task of dealing with evil. When Uncle Charlie comes to visit the sleepy town of Santa Rosa, they embrace him — but only on his pretext that he is an innocent man. Their acceptance of him is predicated on their naivete. For the Vermonter inhabitants of Harry, however, the opposite is true. Their acceptance of the evil in their midst was based on knowingness. They easily, even gleefully, each confess to having murdered Harry in his or her own way. Perhaps it is that confessional attitude that redeems them. They see the evil that is in the world and accept it right along with the good.
The movie seems to say that, whether by murder, accident or natural causes, we're all going to die, so why get wrapped up the particulars? As Jennifer Rogers says, “That’s just life, I guess!”
I had never thought of "TTWH" in this way before.
Although, I have always loved this movie, I can never understand why people say it's boring or "one of Hitchcock's mistakes" (as if he ever made one...)! I personally think it's just wonderful!
Thanks for stopping by. I think TTWH underappreciated because it departs so much from what you expect Hitchcock to be. There is no psych killer or other diabolical character - though one could say that Sam Marlowe cuts a rather dark profile....
But, it is also completely Hitchcock. You can see him all over it!
I've heard it said before that it was a bit of a return to his "vintage" films, because of all the British humor.
Hitchcock didn't NEED the suspense. Of course he WAS the master of it (obviously), but he could still make a fabulous film without any suspense whatsoever!
I think most of the time, the people who complain about "TTWH" are the same ones who don't like "Mr. And Mrs. Smith" (which I absolutely adore). So, it definitely has to do with the "I was wanting to get freaked out and I didn't" factor.
But I saw the mention of "Topaz" above and did a double-take. I keep forgetting about that one.
movies with Anthony Hopkins