Saturday, July 23, 2011

Beware invisible rabbits -- a movie night mistake

When I think of the 1950 movie, Harvey, starring Jimmy Stewart and this 6' 3 1/2" invisible rabbit friend, I wax nostalgic. I remember a movie that made me laugh, a play that we did in High School that I thought was so much fun -- I was on the stage crew. Good memories.

So, as we were browsing the possibilities on Netflix tonight for our ladies night (four girls, 13 and under & mom) movie choice, we hovered over Harvey. I read the description and, as I said, remembered it fondly.

"Let's watch this one girls," I said.

"Really, Mom?" they balked, "This looks boring."

Indignant, I said, "This is the choice!" in my most enthusiastic tone.

Break out the popcorn and some ice cream and start the movie.

Well, I didn't remember that pleasant, soft spoke Elwood P. Dowd, whose best friend is a Pooka, was a glorified drunk. Not to mention the sexual tension between the young doctor and his desperate nurse. Then, there's the part when Veta Louise, Elwood's sister, recounts how she was mistaken for the one who was to be committed to the sanitarium, was stripped by the young attendant and thrown naked into a therapy bath before she was questioned about her sexual urges.

Ahhh -- grab the clicker, quick!

Here's how Netflix describes the movie:

Affable tippler Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) lives with his sister, Veta (Josephine Hull), and her bashful daughter. They hate his drinking, but what rankles them more is his faithful companion: a 6-foot-tall invisible rabbit named Harvey. Elwood's embarrassing flight of fancy is foiling Veta's plans to marry off her daughter, so Veta decides to commit Elwood. But when she confesses she's seen Harvey, the doctor institutionalizes Veta instead! 

Affable tippler! Sure, he was affable enough, but the whole movie revolves around how he goes on a continual bender, yet manages to remain affable. There's even a line where he conveys how his friend Ed required "conveyance" to get home -- too drunk to make it on his own! Yet, because Elwood is such a pleasant drunk who sees hallucinations, he becomes the hero who makes living outside of the rational a thing to be lauded.

I guess my first clue should have been that Netflix gave it an NR (not rated). I wondered, but thought I knew better.

I laughed at a good portion of the remaining antics, as did the kids. But for that one scene meant for a more mature audience, the rest of the movie was just kind of the kids. To mom, after I checked my reaction and realized that I should not make a big deal out of the goof I made, it was a constant critique and reminder that Hollywood is Hollywood, 1950's morality or not. But, that would have been nice to recall before we sat down to watch.

Note to self: "trust, but verify" the ol' memory banks. It could salvage a ladies movie night -- with underage ladies!


Darby said...

I made a huge mistake of recommending a book that I had read years before to my then teenage daughter, completely forgetting about the depiction of a rather racy "love" scene. She pointed it out to me, "Mom, do you really want me to read this book?" Oopsie - lesson learned! I was also left puzzling over the fact that it had been entirely erased from my memory. Funny how that happens.

Anne said...

I too remember this fondly as a really funny movie in my youth. Did not remember any of the other junk. I guess I should also check before relying on nostalgic memories.