Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Harvey (1950)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Harvey (1950)

In director Henry Koster's screwball comedy with fanciful elements - it told about eccentric and cheerful, often inebriated and 42 year-old dipsomaniac Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) who had an invisible friend (identified as a "pooka" or mischievous Celtic-Irish spirit of mythology - "a fairy spirit in animal form") - a giant 6 foot three-and-a-half-inch rabbit named Harvey that accompanied him everywhere:

  • in the opening scene outside Elwood Dowd's large residential estate, his peculiar personality and insane behavior (including references to his invisible and silent friend Harvey) had obviously become an embarrassment to his family, including Elwood's eccentric older sister Mrs. Veta Louise Dowd Simmons (Josephine Hull), and Veta's unmarried daughter Myrtle Mae Simmons (Victoria Horne) - Elwood's niece; Elwood was being accused of continually driving people away due to his lunacy, and causing his family members to feel "disgraced" and become social outcasts, while preventing Myrtle from meeting eligible young men

Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) (with Harvey) in Front of His Estate

(l to r): Elwood's Older Sister Veta (Josephine Hull) and Her Unmarried Daughter Myrtle (Victoria Horne), Elwood's Niece
  • as Veta and Myrtle were preparing a secret Wednesday afternoon tea party or forum (with a reception and social program) for some of the prominent members in the community, they worried that if Elwood returned home, he would spoil everything, disrupt the event and disturb their guests; Veta frantically telephoned her friend Judge Omar Gaffney (William Lynn) to send one of his assistants named Minninger (Sam Wolfe) to distract Elwood from returning home, but he failed
  • as Elwood walked about town, he carefully guided Harvey across a busy street, causing befuddlement amongst townfolk who saw him talking presumably to himself (they couldn't see his large furry white friend); he often spent time drinking in Charlie's Bar, where he ushered Harvey to a seat at the bar; the bartender Mr. Cracker (Dick Wessel) and one of the oft-imprisoned patrons named Mr. Meegles (Harry Hines) humored Elwood by acknowledging his friend and accepting his strange behavior; at the bar, Elwood ordered two martinis, one for himself and one for Harvey
  • after learning from the newspaper's Society Column that Veta was preparing an afternoon social party, Elwood hurriedly returned home and ruined the gathering by scaring elderly Aunt Ethel Chauvenet (Grayce Mills) away after he introduced her to Harvey; others followed her lead and hurriedly excused themselves; Myrtle threatened to pack up and leave home: "I'm going to lose myself in some strange city. I'm going to change my name!"
  • although Veta questioned Elwood's sanity, she surprisingly and ironically occasionally could see Harvey and acknowledged his presence
  • Veta led efforts to get Elwood committed to an insane asylum, Chumley's Rest, run by Dr. William Chumley (Cecil Kellaway); she convinced Elwood to join her in a drive to the front of the gated institution; while sitting in the backseat next to Harvey in a taxi driven by Henry Riley (Norman Leavitt), the delusionally-lunatic Elwood caused confusion when he spoke to Harvey: - Elwood "Charming place, isn't it, Harvey?" - Henry: "Name's Henry." - Elwood: "It's Henry, Harvey." - Henry: "No, just plain Henry."

Chumley's Rest Sanitarium

Elwood Speaking to Harvey in the Backseat of a Taxi and to Cab Driver Henry

Dr. Sanderson and Nurse Miss Ruth Kelly at the Chumley's Rest Sanitarium

  • inside the hospital while Elwood was being roughly escorted upstairs to hydrotherapy by a white-coated orderly named Marvin Wilson (Jesse White), the frazzled Veta spoke to Nurse Miss Ruth Kelly (Peggy Dow), and to attending young assistant physician Dr. Lyman Sanderson (Charles Drake) in his office; Veta insisted: "I want him committed out here permanently because I cannot stand another day of that Harvey!"; due to her absurd insinuations about her brother and a rabbit, she ashamedly admitted: "Every once in a while, I see this big white rabbit myself! Now, isn't that terrible! And what's more, he's every bit as big as Elwood says he is!"
  • thinking that she was a mental case herself, Dr. Sanderson decided to immediately admit Veta for treatment instead of Elwood; Wilson was ordered to seize her, and he forcibly carried her over his shoulder to the upstairs ward; Sanderson - who feared that he had acted in error and mistreated Dowd, informed his superior Dr. Chumley; both thought that the hospital would be charged with false commitment, wrongful incarceration and rough treatment of Dowd, so Sanderson immediately released Dowd, but kept Veta for temporary observation
  • shortly later, Dr. Chumley realized that Dowd was actually the insane one, after seeing Dowd's left-behind hat for Harvey (with two rabbit ear holes), and Mrs. Hazel Chumley's (Nana Bryant) observation that Dowd had called his "pooka" companion Harvey; he reprimanded Dr. Sanderson and threateningly promised to fire him: "You've allowed a psychopathic case to walk out of here and roam around with an overgrown white rabbit! You've laid me open to a lawsuit!"; during efforts made by Veta's friend Judge Gaffney and Myrtle Mae to release her, Veta was delivered back to the Dowd house - she was hysterical and threatening to have the Judge sue the hospital for mistreating her "like a crazy woman," stripping her of her clothes, and dumping her in a tub of water
  • a town-wide search commenced for Elwood to return him to Chumley's; Wilson arrived at the Dowd house where the attention-starved Myrtle was instantly attracted to him and offered to make him an egg and onion sandwich, as he told her: "You got the screwiest Uncle that ever stuck his puss inside our nuthouse"; when the distressed Dr. Chumley also arrived, Judge Gaffney informed him that Veta had retained him to file a lawsuit against the hospital - for $100,000 dollars
  • four hours later, Elwood was eventually tracked down to Charlie's Bar but found alone; he asserted to Dr. Sanderson: "Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor. And I'm happy to state I finally won out over it"; he claimed that he had spoken with Dr. Chumley, but the doctor had wandered off with Harvey after several rounds of martinis to another joint; the pleasant and sane-sounding Dowd recalled how he seemed to be able to magically convince Dr. Chumley of Harvey's existence ("At first, Dr. Chumley seemed a little frightened of Harvey, but that gave way to admiration as the evening wore on")
  • fearing that Dr. Chumley was in danger, orderly Wilson went searching for him, while Dowd served as a matchmaker for Sanderson and the Nurse by encouraging them to dance in the bar; he also described to them in the bar's outdoor alleyway how he and Harvey often made the lives of others happier and friendlier just by their presence, and how when he chose the name Harvey for the rabbit, Harvey told him that Harvey was coincidentally his actual name
  • Wilson arrived with a policeman and they grabbed Elwood to take him back to the sanitarium; back at the hospital, a disheveled, frazzled and slightly paranoid Dr. Chumley (who feared that he was being followed by the invisible presence of Harvey) arrived on foot, entered, and was there to meet privately with "crackpot" Dowd in his office
  • Dowd bragged how Harvey had miraculous powers - he could stop time and send anyone to a destination: "Did I tell you he could stop clocks?... Well, you've heard the expression 'His face would stop a clock'? Well, Harvey can look at your clock and stop it. And you can go anywhere you like, with anyone you like, and stay as long as you like. And when you get back, not one minute will have ticked by....You see, science has overcome time and space. Well, Harvey has overcome not only time and space, but any objections"
Dowd's Description of Harvey's Miraculous Powers to Dr. Chumley in His Office
Dr. Chumley's Description of a Dream Trip to Akron, Ohio
  • Dr. Chumley described his own perfect, therapeutic two-week destination: Akron, OH, to visit a "cottage camp" in a beautiful grove of maple trees, accompanied by cold beer and a pretty, strange, but quiet woman - who after listening to his deepest, locked-up secrets would call him a "poor, poor thing"
  • Chumley had obviously taken a liking to Harvey, and requested that Harvey be allowed to stay with him for a while (presumably so he could experience a fanciful dream trip to Ohio); as Dowd's friend, Chumley also cautioned about Veta's "conspiracy" against him to commit him in the sanitarium, but Dowd downplayed the seriousness of the threat
  • after all of the other characters arrived at the hospital (by cab), Dr. Sanderson recommended that Dowd could be cured of his third-degree hallucinations of the rabbit ("to shock him back to reality") with a serum injection of "Formula 977"; Chumley restored Dr. Sanderson's terminated job and promoted him to head of staff as a "very capable" young man, to handle Dowd's case; Dowd declined Dr. Sanderson's offer of curing him with the serum: ("I don't think I'd care for it") over Veta's objections ("I wish there might never be another tomorrow! Not if Myrtle Mae and I have to go on living with that rabbit! Our friends never come to see us anymore. We have no social life whatever! We've no life at all. We're both perfectly miserable"); however, to please his older sister, Dowd politely agreed to take the treatment in Dr. Sanderson's office
  • when Ellis Logfren, the taxi driver (Wallace Ford) entered to collect the unpaid Apex Cab fare, Veta couldn't locate her coin purse, and had to interrupt the treatment by asking Elwood to leave the office and pay the cabbie; the driver learned of the impending injection and became very opinionated; he was hesitant for Dowd to be treated and returned to normal - he knew that the patient would negatively change and revert back to "a perfectly normal human being, and you know what stinkers they are"; Veta clearly saw that Dowd's cure would be worse than his ailment and intervened to stop the injection
  • and then in the film's twist, Veta discovered her previously-missing coin purse was back where it should have been, and realized that the mischievous Harvey had intervened to save Elwood: ("Why look at that! It's my coin purse. It must've been in there all the time. I could've paid that cab driver myself. Harvey!")
  • two "beautiful couples" had been brought together by positive contact with Dowd during the proceedings: Myrtle with Marvin, and Dr. Sanderson with Nurse Kelly
  • in the film's conclusion, Harvey briefly remained behind with Dr. Chumley (who asked: "Have you ever been to Akron?"), but after an instantaneous trip of two weeks to Akron, Harvey rejoined Elwood as he walked out of the hospital's gates toward the bus stop; the two followed behind Veta and Myrtle as they headed into the sunrise, as Elwood responded to Harvey: "Well, thank you, Harvey. I prefer you too"

Elwood Entering Charlie's Bar with Harvey

Elwood with Harvey Inside Charlie's Bar, Offering Him a Seat - and Then a Martini

Elwood Seated and Reading Sense and Sensibility to Harvey

Veta Wrongly Admitted to Chumley's Rest Sanitarium - Kicking and Screaming

Dowd (Seated Next to Harvey) As He Was Released from Chumley's by Dr. Sanderson

Dr. Chumley (Cecil Kellaway) with Dr. Sanderson

Veta Threatening to Sue The Sanitarium for Mistreatment

Elwood's Admiring of The Painted Portrait of His Invisible Friend-Companion Harvey

Elwood's Description of How He and Harvey Made People Happy, and How He Named Harvey 'Harvey'

All of the Major Characters Back at Chumley's Rest Hospital

The Cab Driver's Advice: Don't Give Elwood the Shot To Cure Him

Veta and Her Reappearing Coin Purse: "Harvey!"

Ending Image: Elwood Walking with Harvey To the Bus Stop


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