Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 comedy The Trouble with Harry (TTwH) truly lived up to the movie poster’s assessment: “The Unexpected from Hitchcock!” The novel was based on British pulp writer Jack Trevor Story’s 1949 novel, but Hitchcock transplanted the action to a picturesque
hamlet in autumn, full of likable eccentrics who find themselves playing hide-and-seek with titular corpse Harry Worp (the uncredited Philip Truex). Instead of the sleek, sinister suspense that was Hitchcock’s trademark, TTwH is more like an Ealing comedy with a gleefully puckish sense of gallows humor. Vinnie and I have always enjoyed well-played comedy with a slow fuse, so TTwH endeared itself to us right away. No wonder Hitchcock showed TTwH to the writers on his long-running TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents; what better way to show the writers exactly what Hitch wanted from them? Even though TTwH wasn’t a box office hit during its original Vermont U.S. theatrical release, it was a smash in for a record-breaking 18 months, and much like Hitchcock’s 1958 spellbinder Vertigo, TTwH finally has the acclaim it always deserved! France
Hitchcock teamed up again with screenwriter John Michael Hayes, who also did the honors for Rear Window (1954), To Catch a Thief (1955), and the 1956 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much. Hitchcock’s trusty Director of Photography Robert Burks captured the beauty of the location’s autumn colors brilliantly. I’ve always liked the irony of the leaves being at their most colorful during a season in which the plants are in fact dying. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hitchcock had been thinking along those lines, too, scamp that he was! Even the costume designs by the ever-wonderful Edith Head all have fall colors or earth tones to some degree.
As fans of Raymond Scott’s music, Vinnie and I loved the song “Flaggin’ the Train from
,” with Scott’s music and Mack David’s lyrics. TTwH was the first score that Bernard Herrmann had ever composed for a Hitchcock film! Herrmann and Hitchcock worked together on 8 more scores, including my favorite, North by Northwest, until their unfortunate falling-out during the making of Torn Curtain in 1966. Herrmann’s score was replaced with John Addison’s, although the unused Torn Curtain score is available on Amazon.com for completists (like me J). Tuscaloosa