Posted by: reederwi | August 13, 2010

Josephine Hull, Harvey (1950)

Mary Cross’ 1944 Pulitzer Prize winning play is the source material for Harry Koster’s wildly popular 1950 film Harvey. The story centers on an eccentric man named Elwood P. Dowd (Jimmy Stewart), who turns to drinking and other non-conforming behaviors in order to escape the world around him. Elwood ambles through life in the company of his pal Harvey, a 6’4″ white rabbit, which is a creature of his own imagination. Concerned that her brother has lost touch with reality, Elwood’s sister, Veta Louise Simmons (Josephine Hull) wants him committed into a mental hospital. The harmless but undoubtedly loony Elwood follows his sister to the hospital. But a mix-up occurs during the initial interview and Elwood is released while Veta gets committed. This lightweight, escapist tale soon heads off into zany directions as each character starts to actually believe that Harvey may in fact be real.

Harvey was nominated for two Academy Awards in 1950. The first went to Jimmy Stewart for his role as the good- natured eccentric, Elwood P. Dowd. Stewart recreated the stage role he originated in the Broadway production, as did his nominated co-star Josephine Hull, winner, (149), as Elwood’s nervous, long-suffering sister Veta. Hull is deliriously batty and immensely likeable as she navigates the troubled waters that she and her brother find themselves in. The hugely successful stage actress, who brought some of her better known roles to film, took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1950.

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