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Harvey-1950


molo14
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Hiya Ms. Cutter... I think that "respect" thing is one of the qualities about Elwood that Harvey may have admired most.. Perhaps Mama Dowd may have "raised her boy right". ha.

 

Many of the people drinking with Elwood and Harvey would likely love to get off the gravy train so to speak but they all lack the one thing Elwood has, courage to do so.

 

I think you may have something there... and that COULD be the key to a part of the "envy" that Elwood mentions.

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I meant to say in my other post that the existence of Harvey, through Elwood, causes a lot of peripheral good.....

 

My favorite line from the movie:

 

>"Myrtle Mae, I hope that as long as you live, A man never tears off your clothes and sets you down in a tub of water!"

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> {quote:title=moviefan1951 wrote:}{quote}

> How about this line?

>

> > *Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it.*

 

That's not a bad line, either! Sometimes reality is sooo overrated. :P

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Well look who stopped in. How do, Lynn? I should have guessed this was your kind

of place. :P

 

I greatly enjoyed reading your two recents posts. Terrific stuff. I agreed with everything

you wrote. I must be spiffed.

 

Great post! I think it's possible that Elwood had a nervous breakdown due to the

stresses of his job and the loss of his mother. Was he always trying to live up to

his mother's high standards or did she try and get him to stop and smell the roses

but he always thought he would have time for that later? (We always think there will

time enough later when we are older, retired, etc to do the things we keep putting

off because of work and every day life.)

 

Fantastic point. I do believe regret plays a significant role in the film. That's a

wonderful observation.

 

We also have to remember that treatment for a breakdown was much different than

it is today.

 

Yes, just give him the formula! That'll cure him.

 

And there is the time and context of the film, the 1950s. As I've said before, it's the

era of the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, putting your nose to the grindstone and

giving your all for the company. Add to that the need for material things after years

of the Depression and the rationing of the War. They didn't necessarily need all

those shiny new appliances, cars, fashion, etc but on some level, they were very

desired. Especially if you belong to an old family that has fallen on hard times and

is trying to regain their former social standing.

 

Brilliant! And I believe this to be a VERY critical component to the film. In fact, it's

something we are often presented with by Elwood:

 

harvey18.jpg

 

Elwood's business is not making money, it's making friends. His job is not his

identity. That is not what defines him. He is his indentity. How novel.

 

People can tell their dreams, their hopes, their desires to Elwood because after

all, he's harmless. They may envy him on some level for being able to ditch all the

things that society says you must do to be considered successful. Many of the

people drinking with Elwood and Harvey would likely love to get off the gravy train

so to speak but they all lack the one thing Elwood has, courage to do so.

 

That is wonderfully written and said.

 

But I believe there is more to Elwood than the job or money angle. Take Mr. Meegles,

for example:

 

harvey19.jpg

 

harvey20.jpg

 

Elwood doesn't care that Mr. Meegles has done time, but when Veta hears that, she

thinks differently of Mr. Meegles. He's "riffraff." Elwood and Mr. Meegles are similar

because when Mr. Meegles tells someone he has done time and when Elwood

introduces people to Harvey, they are now viewed differently.

 

Is it me or are there some pookas running wild tonight? Naaahh, it must be my

imagination.

 

harvey21.jpg

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"In this life you have to be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. I recommend pleasant."

 

That is Elwood P. Dowd. His life has become making others feel good or better yet, important. There is at minimum a melancholy to Elwood. He has retreated to where he most enjoys the company of the one who expects nothing from him but the pleasure of his company. Together they make others feel good and in turn feel good themselves for having done it.

 

For all his eccentricities who wouldn't want a friend like Dowd? There is no class distinction. There is no one not worthy to dine with him. No one not worthy of a minute or hour of this time. He is genuine in his flattery of Miss Kelly. At the same time it is as if he is sharing his heart but also teaching the doctor a thing or two about how to treat a lady.

 

There is a mischievous side to him. When he always responds to people when they ask what they can do for him he always replies "What did you have in mind/" Nothing bad but always a little bit naughty. He gets the same kind of look when he is being interviewed by Dr. Sanderson.

 

In the end Harvey is really his. The only point he looks depressed is at the thought of Harvey staying with Dr. Chumley. He is genuinely sad but will not put up a fuss as he only wants the best for Dr. Chumley and Harvey. What relief when Harvey comes back. The cab driver summed it all up. "They come in here happy. We stop and watch birds. Sometimes we watch birds when there ain't no birds." But he is quick to tell them all when they come out it is all different and everyone is the worse for it. For Dowd it would probably destroy him and how fortunate that Veta sees it.

 

As far as the cast goes, how much less enjoyable would the whole thing be without Josephine Hull? Manic the whole way through. Somewhere between crazy and sane she balances it all with off the cuff remarks that are hilarious and pointed at the same time. Jesse White reminds me of a much calmer Curly Howard. That is not a bad thing but the mannerisms seem to be there. I especially liked Mrs. Chumley. She herself does not judge Dowd but makes the most of their unusual conversation by enjoying it for the pleasant banter it is.

 

Great conversations. I hope I can respond to others more directly but I wanted to at least get some thoughts out there.

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I especially liked Mrs. Chumley. She herself does not judge Dowd but makes the most of their unusual conversation by enjoying it for the pleasant banter it is.

 

Chris... thanks for bringing up Mrs. Chumley... I really liked that little conversation. She is so congenial and seemed genuinely kind... she COULD have been played much differently. But I liked that angle a lot. I love when she asks her chauffeur... "Did he say, Pooka?" :-)

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I want to respond to everyone as soon as I can. This is a great discussion and I appreciate everyone taking there time to share their thoughts about *Harvey*.

 

Hi Kathy,

 

*Molo... I think it was your original post where you made a comment about liking the dialogue even if it was a bit "hokey". For me, I think it is ANYTHING but hokey... It is actually quite nicely written and very witty as well as rather poignant sometimes... YES ..there is a lot of "sentimentalism" in the middle of it all now and then... but that is ok too because it fits with the storyline so well.... but... Hokey... okey dokey if you want to call it that... I just didnt' see it that way...*

 

I didn't say it was hokey. I said Some cynics might find it all a little hokey but this cynic finds it all very insightful. That is a little defense mechanism I use sometimes in my postings, particularly way back then, when I'm worried the consensus might be against me. I just wanted to clarify that. I do agree with you, it is all beautifully written. :)

 

*So many times when you see a movie about someone having a relationship w/ an "invisible" character.. that person is always getting frustrated and running around trying to hide the fact that the invisible friend is there... or trying to explain away their conversations with that unseen person... Elwood never does this... because he KNOWS Harvey is there... To him Harvey is just as real as anyone else he is talking or relating to at the moment... so he treats Harvey that way. It's not HIS fault you can't see him. So he doesn't take any false responsibility to try and convince you. As far as Elwood is concerned... that would be like him trying to convince Harvey that YOU exist... and that would be a bit silly, now wouldn't it?*

 

That's a really good point. There is something in the way that Elwood is so open about Harvey and in telling others about him that strikes a certain reflexive feeling from the audience. Even though you know the story, you feel, especially in the early parts, a little uncomfortable for him when he brings up Harvey.

 

This is Veta's reaction. She knows Harvey is there and she may not like it, but she will talk to Elwood about it when she has too. What really bothers her is that he brings it up to other people. He kind of flaunts it, from her perspective. That really shames her. She wants it kept in the immediate family. It's like your typical crazy relative, you can deal with them just fine, but it embarrasses you, and makes you feel embarrassed for them, when they show themselves to be different out in public. We worry about them and ourselves.

 

I worry about Elwood. Even as I become comfortable with Harvey, I instinctively worry about how others might react. I think this was a point that Mary P. Chase was trying to get across. We have to understand that in Elwood's mind none of this matters. He knows what he knows. He is used to dealing with all this and he knows other people can be blind to it. They are the ones we should worry about.

 

*Which explains why Elwood was so at peace with himself and Veta was such a basket case.*

 

 

Exactly. She's so worried what others will think.

 

*I like what Miss G said way back when about how "Elwood places greater value on kindness than on smartness" And that "he thinks consideration of people other than himself is more important than self-importance". There are so many examples of this too... like how no matter HOW nasty anyone gets... (such as when Wilson gets VERY nasty in the bar..) Elwood never responds in kind... he sticks with "pleasant" because it works for him..*

 

That is such an interesting scene. Wilson is just the kind of person that worries me around Elwood. He sees Elwood as just another in a long line of nut cases. He even worries that Elwood is nuttier than most. He just can't understand why everyone is treating Elwood so delicately. He is not prone to too much contemplation on the matter. He's like a one man mob mentality as far as the issue of Elwood is concerned. Harvey even has a little fun with Wilson:

 

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He has a job to do and he's doing it the best way he knows how. He only carries it so far though. Once Veta and, finally Elwood, are no longer his responsibility to worry about, he lets it go. Elwood is fine with that.

 

harvey-27.jpg?t=1238213117

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Veta...not so much... :)

 

harvey-25.jpg?t=1238213263

 

What I like is that Elwood, unlike Veta, knows that Wilson is just the sort of person Myrtle Mae needs to be happy.

 

harvey-29.jpg?t=1238213353

 

 

*And he always treats every conversation with anyone he meets as the most important thing he has to do at the moment... he talks with kindness and respect toward all... no matter what their station. (like the excon at the bar) And Konway87 mentioned Herman Schimmelplusser... I liked how he tells Elwood that "most folks just call him Herman". But Elwood follows up by calling him Mr. Schimmelplusser... (he calls everyone "mr or miss"... and shows admiration for all the work and ingenuity that went into the fence design... while everyone else in the world that passed through those gates never gave it a second thought.*

 

Yes Elwood is always respectful and he's always interested in people. Konway was so right in bringing up Mr. Schimmelplusser. I love that scene, and I did notice that Elwood refers to him as "Mr".

 

*Elwood notices a LOT of things everyone else is too busy to see... maybe THAT'S why Harvey took the time to introduce himself...*

 

Maybe so. I mentioned that I thought Elwood may have wished Harvey into existence. That isn't to say that Harvey isn't real, it's just that maybe Harvey knew Elwood really needed him.

 

You made some great points. I enjoyed reading your take on things. Keep it coming. :)

 

I'll be back later to reply to some of the other comments people are making. :)

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*Chris wrote: I especially liked Mrs. Chumley. She herself does not judge Dowd but makes the most of their unusual conversation by enjoying it for the pleasant banter it is.*

 

*Rohanaka wrote: Chris... thanks for bringing up Mrs. Chumley... I really liked that little conversation. She is so congenial and seemed genuinely kind... she COULD have been played much differently. But I liked that angle a lot. I love when she asks her chauffeur... "Did he say, Pooka?" :-)*

 

Hi,

 

Just a quick comment here. I so agree with both of you about the conversation with Mrs. Chumley (Nana Bryant). It is a delightful scene. I love the way that played out.

 

Just one little thing. It has always bothered me that Mrs. Chumley goes to all the trouble to look up the word "pooka" only to leave without taking just a minute to read it. Of course, we need that to happen so Wilson would look at it. I wonder if Harvey had something to do with that? :)

 

harvey-30.jpg?t=1238215611

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*I worry about Elwood. Even as I become comfortable with Harvey, I instinctively worry about how others might react. I think this was a point that Mary P. Chase was trying to get across*

 

Molo,

 

When I read your latest post (in reply to Kathy) the first thing that I thought of was "In the era of conformity, we all need to remember that a little nonconformity can be a wonderful thing."

 

And the 1950s were certainly the era of conformity.

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A very, very, very good evening, Movieman! -- It's nice to see your better half on the board.

 

"In this life you have to be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. I recommend pleasant."

 

That is Elwood P. Dowd. His life has become making others feel good or better yet,

important. There is at minimum a melancholy to Elwood. He has retreated to where

he most enjoys the company of the one who expects nothing from him but the

pleasure of his company. Together they make others feel good and in turn feel

good themselves for having done it.

 

That's very interesting. The words that really struck me are "one who expects nothing

from him." I think that is a very important point. Harvey is Elwood's encourager.

 

For all his eccentricities who wouldn't want a friend like Dowd? There is no class

distinction. There is no one not worthy to dine with him. No one not worthy of a

minute or hour of this time. He is genuine in his flattery of Miss Kelly. At the same

time it is as if he is sharing his heart but also teaching the doctor a thing or two

about how to treat a lady.

 

All very true. You would be crazy not to want a friend like Elwood. Elwood is a very

observant man because he's not about himself, he's about others. Those who are

most observant tend to be like this. They also tend to be lonely.

 

Elwood mentions "informal" on three different occasions in the film. This speaks to

the "no class distinction" that you mention.

 

harvey24.jpg

 

There is a mischievous side to him. When he always responds to people when

they ask what they can do for him he always replies "What did you have in mind/"

Nothing bad but always a little bit naughty. He gets the same kind of look when he

is being interviewed by Dr. Sanderson.

 

That's a good point. I didn't think of it that way, but I believe you are right. Even when

others ask what they can do for them, he still makes it about them. "What did YOU

have in mind?" A selfish person would quickly tell you what THEY want.

 

In the end Harvey is really his. The only point he looks depressed is at the thought

of Harvey staying with Dr. Chumley. He is genuinely sad but will not put up a fuss

as he only wants the best for Dr. Chumley and Harvey. What relief when Harvey

comes back.

 

I'm not so sure about this. I think Elwood does have some other down moments in the

film, particularly when he shares his story with Dr. Sanderson and Miss Kelly. That is

one of the only times where he chose to talk about himself.

 

I thought he was on the down side with his admittance to his no longer dancing.

 

The cab driver summed it all up. "They come in here happy. We stop and watch

birds. Sometimes we watch birds when there ain't no birds." But he is quick to tell

them all when they come out it is all different and everyone is the worse for it. For

Dowd it would probably destroy him and how fortunate that Veta sees it.

 

That was a shining moment in the film. Deep down, Veta didn't want her Elwood to

lose who he was.

 

As far as the cast goes, how much less enjoyable would the whole thing be

without Josephine Hull? Manic the whole way through. Somewhere between crazy

and sane she balances it all with off the cuff remarks that are hilarious and pointed

at the same time.

 

I completely agree. Veta (Josephine Hull) is the comedy in the film. Everyone else

feeds off of her, be it Myrtle Mae or Judge Gaffney. Other than the Judge's response to

Veta's talking about his taking "long walks in the fresh air," :D my biggest laughs were

these:

 

harvey25.jpg

 

harvey26.jpg

 

Jesse White reminds me of a much calmer Curly Howard. That is not a bad thing

but the mannerisms seem to be there.

 

:D That made me laugh! What's even weirder is that I actually now think Boss Hogg

(Sorrell Booke) from The Dukes of Hazzard took from Veta.

 

I especially liked Mrs. Chumley. She herself does not judge Dowd but makes the

most of their unusual conversation by enjoying it for the pleasant banter it is.

 

I also liked her a lot. And I believe she's actually one of the most tragic figures in the

film.

 

My second favorite character in the film was Aunt Ethel. Aunt Ethel doesn't hide her

honest feelings. Veta, Myrtle Mae, and other women are dead to her. She doesn't

care about them.

 

harvey27.jpg

 

harvey28.jpg

 

harvey31.jpg

 

harvey32.jpg

 

But Elwood, that's a different story. She cares about him. She shows concern for him.

 

harvey29.jpg

 

harvey30.jpg

 

What I find so interesting about Aunt Ethel is that she likes Elwood before Harvey.

Are we to discern that Elwood was always a pleasant chap?

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*Elwood mentions "informal" on three different occasions in the film. This speaks to*

*the "no class distinction" that you mention.*

 

Frankie and Chris ( *movieman1957* ),

 

That's one of the things that makes me think that at one time class distinction was very important to Elwood. Why? Because now it's not. Now he invites all manner of people to dinner from the society folks to the working folks to the regular folks to those without any means at all who are thrilled at the invitation.

 

All are welcome to the small informal dinners at his home.

 

*I'm not so sure about this. I think Elwood does have some other down moments in the*

*film, particularly when he shares his story with Dr. Sanderson and Miss Kelly. That is*

*one of the only times where he chose to talk about himself. He no longer "dances."*

 

I think there are traces of his old life that Elwood still misses and sometimes he falls into a melancholy state over them. But, because he has Harvey as his constant, as his anchor, he is able to overcome those moments and remember why he gave up his former life.

 

Anytime we leave something or someone behind that we cared about we tend to be wistful about it but once we remember the reasons why we moved on, more times than not we realize we made the right decision.

 

Somewhere in Elwood's past is a woman who got away. Perhaps, she was like Scrooge's lost love, someone that he abandoned in his search for profit and a better life.

 

*That was a shining moment in the film. Deep down, Veta didn't want her Elwood to lose who he was.*

 

Veta wanted so much to be included by high society not so much for herself but for Myrtle Mae. Did this longing come from Father Dowd? Was he the one who stressed that money and a place in society are everything and Mother Dowd was more the stop and smell the roses type?

 

If that's the family history it might help explain Elwood's break with reality in the aftermath of his mother's death. And it might help explain why Veta has such a soft spot for Elwood and his "ways". Very often, daughters are somewhat like their mothers, rather they like to admit it or not.

 

Veta gives off hints of having seen Harvey herself throughout the film. But she is reluctant to admit because she wants Myrtle Mae to be able to marry "well."

 

Elwood, perhaps having loved and lost, realizes that a good marriage is not based on marrying "well" but on marrying for love. Thus, he sees that Myrtle Mae will be happier with Wilson than with any blue blood.

 

*My second favorite character in the film was Aunt Ethel*

 

The scene with Aunt Ethel gives us a glimpse into Mother Dowd being the stop and smell the roses type. She sees those same traits not in Veta but in Myrtle Mae.

 

Father Dowd may have been the one pushing Elwood to be the best that he could be, ethics be damned, make money, do the family proud, help us regain the social footing we lost during the dark years of the Depression while Mother Dowd may have been the nurturing one pushing Elwood to do what he wanted to do.

 

The conflict inherent in trying to please both parents in that era could easily along with the stress of his job and all involved could have led to Elwood having some sort of break with reality.

 

Aunt Ethel seems to have liked Elwood all along which could mean that Elwood was always in conflict prior to his breakdown over trying to be oh so smart and so pleasant.

 

Message was edited by: lzcutter for clarification and grammar

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A very good evening to you, Lynn -- That's one of the things that makes me

think that at one time class distinction was very important to Elwood. Why? Because

now it's not. Now he invites all manner of people to dinner from the society folks to

the working folks to the regular folks to those without any means at all who are

thrilled at the invitation.

 

Quite possibly. That's something I cannot ascertain. For me, I think Elwood is

just more accepting of people. He's not judgmental. Was he always? I just don't

know.

 

I think there are traces of his old life that Elwood still misses and sometimes he

falls into a melancholy state over them. But, because he has Harvey as his

constant, as his anchor, he is able to overcome those moments and remember why

he gave up his former life.

 

Harvey is definitely Elwood's escape hatch from unhappiness. He's his security blanket.

But I don't think Elwood chose to leave everything behind. I think there are some things

he wishes he could still do but Father Time doesn't allow him or us to do them. The

dancing being one of them.

 

Anytime we leave something or someone behind that we cared about we tend to

be wistful about it but once we remember the reasons why we moved on, more times

than not we realize we made the right decision.

 

This is true.

 

Somewhere in Elwood's past is a woman who got away. Perhaps, she was like

Scrooge's lost love, someone that he abandoned in his search for profit and a better

life.

 

I think the woman that got away from Elwood was his mother. He always stayed

with mother. He feels lost without her.

 

Veta wanted so much to be included by high society not so much for herself but

for Myrtle Mae. Did this longing come from Father Dowd? Was he the one who

stressed that money and a place in society are everything and Mother Dowd was

more the stop and smell the roses type?

 

I'm not sure about the parents. They are mostly a mystery to us. I do believe Veta

was looking to land Myrtle Mae a husband, but she was doing so for herself, not for

Myrtle Mae. She's controlling her daughter.

 

If that's the family history it might help explain Elwood's break with reality in

the aftermath of his mother's death. And it might help explain why Veta has such

a soft spot for Elwood and his "ways". Very often, daughters are somewhat like

their mothers, rather they like to admit it or not.

 

Veta helped to change Elwood's diapers, so she does take on a motherly role with him.

 

Elwood tells us how Harvey enters his life, although we are not sure if this happened before

or after the death of his mother. I'm of the belief it was after.

 

Elwood, perhaps having loved and lost, realizes that a good marriage is not based

on marrying "well" but on marrying for love. Thus, he sees that Myrtle Mae will be

happier with Wilson than with any blue blood.

 

I believe Elwood just wants people to be happy, to have what they want. He's very

observant of others. He notices how much Myrtle Mae likes Mr. Wilson. He wants

them to get together. He was willing to take the formula for Veta, because that's

what would make her happy.

 

harvey44.jpg

 

harvey39.jpg

 

harvey40.jpg

 

Father Dowd may have been the one pushing Elwood to be the best that he could

be, ethics be damned, make money, do the family proud, help us regain the social

footing we lost during the dark years of the Depression while Mother Dowd may

have been the nurturing one pushing Elwood to do what he wanted to do.

 

The conflict inherent in trying to please both parents in that era could easily along with

the stress of his job and all involved could have led to Elwood having some sort of

break with reality.

 

That's a very interesting theory. We cannot be for sure since nothing was really said

of the parents Dowd.

 

Aunt Ethel seems to have liked Elwood all along which could mean that Elwood was

always in conflict prior to his breakdown over trying to be oh so smart and so pleasant.

 

Very good point.

 

Mother Dowd seemingly liked Elwood more than Veta or she felt he needed the house.

Why did Veta and Myrtle Mae move back home?

 

harvey33.jpg

 

A 42-year-old man who has never married and still lives at home with his mother is

crazy, right? Society says so. Yet, he's the same Elwood.

 

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I found these words to be telling...

 

harvey34.jpg

 

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Those who lose interest are usually dealing with depression.

 

Harvey is the fantasy world and the alternative is the real world; a world of responsibility,

duty, accomplishment, and importance, as defined by society.

 

harvey41.jpg

 

harvey42.jpg

 

harvey43.jpg

 

Elwood's reply:

 

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Lynn:

 

I wondered if the Dowd's had not been part of society before. That is a rather grand house and seems to have been indicative of an important family. If they were did that all go away when the mother died? Was Veta then trying to get back in for her own sake as well as Myrtle May's? I think so.

 

You mention daughters and mothers and that they can be so much alike. Amen. That is certainly true in my house. It is not always a good thing. I kid my daughter that she could be called "Mini Me" by my bride. However, that doesn't always make them see eye to eye on everything. Much like Myrtle May and WIlson we have a similar situation with the daughter. We don't scream everytime we see the boyfriend but we do squirm a little.

 

You being up the possibility of a woman in Elwood's past. I wonder. When would she have been part of this life? He knew how to dance. He knew how to compliment a woman. He knew when two people belonged together. If one got away that would certainly add to the need for someone like Harvey in his life. The idea of me being 42 and having never married would have been a real problem for me. (It's a good thing because I have thoroughly enjoyed being married.) You can still be lonely living with people. Harvey keeps Elwood from being lonely.

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> {quote:title=movieman1957 wrote:}{quote}

> Lynn:

>

> I wondered if the Dowd's had not been part of society before. That is a rather grand house and seems to have been indicative of an important family. If they were did that all go away when the mother died? Was Veta then trying to get back in for her own sake as well as Myrtle May's? I think so.

 

Maybe Veta is just trying to stay in society because it is what she knows..... she is comfortable there- it is HER security blanket.....like Harvey is Elwood's? She doesn't know anything else....For women of that time, society was their business.... so Veta is still on the treadmill.

 

Everyone, your insightful rambles last night reminded me of something. I couldn't put my finger on it till this morning:

 

Photobucket

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Hi Lynn, :)

 

*I think it's possible that Elwood had a nervous breakdown due to the stresses of his job and the loss of his mother.*

 

 

I think it is quite possible that Elwood did have some kind of breakdown. I also have noticed several people pointing to the loss of his mother. I agree that this could have been a turning point for Elwood.

 

In the first scene at Chumley's Rest, when Veta is being interviewed by Sanderson, she brings this up.

 

harvey-31.jpg?t=1238294316

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but just seconds later, in the same scene, Veta suggests that their mother may have knew about Harvey as well.

 

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harvey-34.jpg?t=1238294520

 

Does anyone have any thoughts as to why that line may have been included? Is Veta just making an assumption or misremembering?

 

*Was he always trying to live up to his mother's high standards or did she try and get him to stop and smell the roses but he always thought he would have time for that later? (We always think there will time enough later when we are older, retired, etc to do the things we keep putting off because of work and every day life.)*

 

Well, this is all just theory of course, but I like to speculate. It's also possible that Elwood could have witnessed his mother's own regrets at the time of her death. The things she wanted to do but never did. She may have even asked Elwood to take time off and spend more time with her, maybe take her traveling, and Elwood was too busy to do so. This would have certainly caused him to lapse into a greater depression. Death has a way of bringing us quickly around to what matters most in life.

 

*We also have to remember that treatment for a breakdown was much different than it is today.*

 

Shock treatment and such was very popular then wasn't it? The idea was also to make a person stop behaving that way, to conform, that was very important.

 

*And there is the time and context of the film, the 1950s. As I've said before, it's the era of the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, putting your nose to the grindstone and giving your all for the company. Add to that the need for material things after years of the Depression and the rationing of the War. They didn't necessarily need all those shiny new appliances, cars, fashion, etc but on some level, they were very desired. Especially if you belong to an old family that has fallen on hard times and is trying to regain their former social standing.*

 

I think that is a very good point. A definite theme of the film. Status and conformity. Elwood is bucking the system. Veta can't understand why Elwood would want to give it all up. He could have a respected position in the community if he only wanted it.

 

*I think Harvey grew out of Elwood's need to cope with the fact that he didn't want to return to that life. That decision must have been incredibly hard for Elwood as he was likely the main source of money for the family. He would be letting down not only himself but his family as well.*

 

I think also that Elwood just needs to cope, period. I think something happened, we have discussed numerous possibilities, that made Elwood turn away from the normal way. It's like someone having a continuous anxiety attack, they have to find a way to cope. Elwood is calm and pleasant, but there is also something of sadness and regret in him.....

 

*But weighed against the trauma of a life that had brought him such despair, Elwood decided instead to break with the conventional wisdom of the day and in doing so became the local, lovable eccentric.*

 

I like that you used the word trauma. It's a strong word but I think something strong certainly happened to bring Harvey around. I also think that Elwood understands well the trauma that sometimes comes with just trying to make it day to day in our own skins. I thought Elwood's reply in this scene was interesting.

 

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Elwood has learned to focus on the good in life. His mind wonders sometimes but he seems to have a wisdom about him, a wisdom of something very old, that puts it all in perspective.

 

*Being oh so smart only brought Elwood a lot of pain, being oh so pleasant has brought him a world of happiness.*

 

Yes, or at least as much happiness as he can possibly hope for. Elwood has definitely found a better way.

 

*People can tell their dreams, their hopes, their desires to Elwood because after all, he's harmless. They may envy him on some level for being able to ditch all the things that society says you must do to be considered successful. Many of the people drinking with Elwood and Harvey would likely love to get off the gravy train so to speak but they all lack the one thing Elwood has, courage to do so.*

 

That was very nicely said and I agree. Just one other point, which I've made before. Some of us can never get off that gravy train because we have to make a living to survive. Elwood doesn't have to worry so much about material things and he has Veta to look after the day to day affairs. I don't want to take anything away from Elwood or the wonderful theme of the play though. I said before, it is something we can aspire to, even if we can't completely take Elwood's path. The world is always with us. We can however, strive to be oh so pleasant rather than oh so smart.

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Does anyone have any thoughts as to why that line may have been included?

 

I think it could be either that A) the mother DID know about Harvey... or B) Harvey came along sometime very soon after the mother's death before Veta came back to live with him... and Veta just assumed he'd been there longer.

 

And PS folks... I think all this speculation into what may or may not have been a part of Elwood's past is really interesting. I like films where your imagination can come into the story like that. Some of you have made some really interesting observations and I imagine there could be a lot to what you are saying.

 

If I may... I think whatever happened to Elwood, it must have caused him some good deal of disappointment in life. And the way he has learned to deal with it... is as he says.. to be "Oh so pleasant". But whatever his disappointment or even "trauma" may have been... I don't think he is still struggling with it. Whatever it was... he seems at peace... even if he may have moments of "nostalgia" about the past (like perhaps when he saw Sanderson and Kelly dancing.) But even if he has made peace with his past regrets... I think they have shaped a lot of his present behaviors.

 

He is very literal in the way he speaks... (as in "What did you have in mind?") Everyone uses those common phrases like "What can I do for you" or "Let's get together sometime"... just simple "pleasantries"... but to Elwood... they really mean something because he is truly interested in getting to know everyone he meets. So even while he is just being "pleasant"... he is totally sincere... which is NOT how most of the rest of the world seems to operate.

 

It could be at sometime... someone came along who was not what they seemed to be... and took advantage of Elwood's good nature... And maybe he's been hurt by the insincerity in the world around him in the past... and this "literal sincerity" is just his way of dealing with it...

 

Ok.... that's my meandering musings on the matter... hope they made at least a little sense. And if not.. It IS late.. and I am an old worn out woman... so try not to hold it against me... ha. :-)

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Hi there Kathy,

 

Thanks for answering that. I think it has to be one of those things.

 

You brought up some good points. I'll get to them eventually. :)

 

*Ok.... that's my meandering musings on the matter... hope they made at least a little sense. And if not.. It IS late.. and I am an old worn out woman... so try not to hold it against me... ha.*

 

Reminds me of something:

 

harvey-40.jpg?t=1238310102

 

I think we both can relate. :)

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and how are you Mr. Grimes. :)

 

*Molo wrote: Sadly, It's been all down hill from there.*

 

*Frank wrote: And those words are perfect for this film.*

 

*Molo wrote: Interesting. What do you mean by that?*

 

*Frank wrote: I believe one of themes of Harvey is that as we become "responsible" adults, we* *lose sight of all the many beautiful things in life. We get caught up in our responsibilities.*

*As Elwood says, "I don't know. I just don't seem to have the time any more. I have so*

*many things to do." In otherwords, it's all downhill.*

 

Oh I get it. I think I can definitely relate to Elwood on that.

 

*I believe you are absolutely correct about Elwood's melancholy. He's happy to see*

*Ruth and Lyman coming together. He wanted them to come together. He saw*

*their love for each other despite Lyman not seeing it. But immediately after smiling*

*over Ruth and Lyman, he feels personal pain. He leaves the bar, looking for "Harvey."*

*Harvey is his way of fighting off his loneliness, his unhappiness.*

 

Yes, That's what I got out of it. He lets his mind wander a little bit. He catches himself and he thinks immediately of Harvey.

 

*I really like Miss Kelly's saying, "We shouldn't have left him alone!" What she means*

*is that Elwood is escaping. But we know the real meaning behind those words.*

 

Yes we do.

 

*This will lead us into the darker side of the story: depression.*

 

*I also believe Harvey would never leave Elwood. He is his and his alone.*

 

I find it interesting that Elwood is always introducing people to Harvey and trying to bring them in on the deal, so to speak. Dr. Chumley is the only person we ever see that actually takes him up on the offer, but I get the feeling he doesn't quite get it. He doesn't want anyone to know he sees Harvey. He's afraid. He's not really open to the whole concept. I could never see Harvey staying with him. I think you have a point there that Harvey is uniquely Elwood's. I would be curious what others think about it.

 

*I actually believe Dr. Sanderson was correct. I think Elwood fell into a depression*

*after his mother died. That changed him. He felt alone. This is part of the dark side*

*of Harvey, for me.*

 

I agree that the death of Elwood's mother affected him greatly. As Veta said he was a great homeboy, he loved his home. Our home is often our emotional center. It's where things are familiar. Most importantly it's where the people are that we love most and that is what really makes a home. When his mother died Elwood lost a big part of his world. He had a hole in his life, a void, that he needed desperately to fill.

 

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*I find it interesting as to when Harvey came to be.*

*Why did Elwood tell this story to explain how and when Harvey came to be?*

 

I have been tossing this one back and forth for a while. Why do you make me do that Frank? :)

 

I'm not sure I have a good answer yet. I know you have something cookin' in your mind about this.

 

All I know is that Elwood must have felt very alone at that point. I said earlier that I thought he felt so low that he may have actually wished Harvey into existence.

 

Maybe that's why I always had such hopes for it.

 

So what you got cookin' there Frank? :)

 

*Elwood is accepted by all until he introduces them to Harvey. Once he tells people*

*about Harvey, most disregard him, many are horrified. This speaks to social*

*norms. Many of us have "pookas." Some are considered worse than others. It*

*just depends on what society and culture in which we dwell. This is what I was*

*getting at with relativity. In a crazy house, it's the sane person who is "abnormal."*

 

I so understand this. As an overly anxious person myself, who on their best days can be considered "functionally neurotic" my perception of "normal" is also a little skewed in a different direction than most. I always tell my more normal friends that us neurotics have the jump on so called "well adjusted" people because we know something's up. Not really sure what that means but I like to say it. :) Anyway I believe in what you said there.

 

*I agree with you. I believe Harvey represents our hopes and dreams. He is whatever*

*we wish him to be. "What a coincidence."*

 

Indeed. :)

 

*I don't think it's a nightmare, but I believe there is some real sadness behind it*

*all. We are to take inventory, which is a good thing.*

 

Well I guess we can't be truly happy unless we truly know sadness. This seemingly light and simple tale isn't really so simple after all. It speaks to what is really at the heart and essence of living. I think that is why it touches us so.

 

*As for the meaning of "The same people seldom come back but that's... that's envy,*

*my dear. There's a little bit of envy in the best of us. And that's too bad, isn't it?"*

 

*That's one I have struggled with. But I think it has to do with inner peace. We all*

*have our moments of envy, and these moments often lead us to feel bad about*

*ourselves and our lives. I believe Elwood was envious of Miss Kelly and*

*Dr. Sanderson after he saw them dancing together. It even gets the best of us.*

 

I really think seeing Sanderson and Miss Kelly finally happy together warmed Elwood's heart but also brought out some of his regrets for what time takes away from us. There will always be a little envy and regret, even in genuinely goodhearted people like Elwood.He always speaks very philosophically about such things. It's the wisdom of an "old soul".

 

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*And, as fate would have it, I actually had a Harvey moment yesterday.*

 

For a moment I thought you were going somewhere else with this. ;)

 

*He was holding a conversation with himself. Oddly enough, I didn't*

*think of him as crazy. Instead, I felt a sadness for him. And then I actually*

*smiled, thinking about Harvey and pookas. It was rather an interesting moment.*

 

I'm glad you remembered Harvey at that time. Hey, who really knows what's going on out there? :)

 

*My second favorite character in the film was Aunt Ethel.*

 

Now there you surprise me Frank. I like Aunt Ethel but I didn't really give her that much thought.

 

So who is your favorite character?

 

*What I find so interesting about Aunt Ethel is that she likes Elwood before Harvey.*

*Are we to discern that Elwood was always a pleasant chap?*

 

Interesting, yet another clue to Elwood's past. It's possible but maybe she would have liked Elwood no matter what kind of person he was. We don't know much about the kind of person she was either.

 

*Movieman1957 (Chris) wrote: I especially liked Mrs. Chumley. She herself does not judge Dowd but makes the most of their unusual conversation by enjoying it for the pleasant banter it is.*

 

*Frank wrote: I also liked her a lot. And I believe she's actually one of the most tragic figures in*

*the film*

 

Ah Frank, I was thinking the same thing! It must be all those noir films. :)

My reason was it seemed like she was a beautiful person kind of trapped there. She was being neglected in life and somewhat stunted by her position.

 

Oh well.

 

There are still some points you brought up that I want to get to, the relationships and such, but I will close for now.

 

Thanks for all the great comments.

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