Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

US movie (1950). Universal. Pr John Beck. Dir Henry Koster. Screenplay Mary Chase with Oscar Brodney. Based on the play Harvey by Chase. Starring Victoria Horne (Myrtle Mae Simmons), Josephine Hull (Veta Louise Simmons), James Stewart (Elwood P Dowd). 104 mins. B/w.

Rich, eccentric bachelor Elwood has an Invisible Companion – a 6ft 3½ in invisible white rabbit called Harvey. Assuming him crazy, his sister Veta Louise and her daughter Myrtle Mae attempt to have him committed, but in due course it becomes evident that, just as Elwood has been maintaining, Harvey is not an Illusion but a pooka (see Puck). At last, to please Veta Louise, Elwood agrees to submit himself to an injection that will "banish the delusion"; but, when she realizes it will also banish Elwood's kindness and generosity of spirit, she retracts her request and agrees that, if living with Harvey is the price she must pay, pay it she shall.

Essentially H has two plots, one fantastic and the other a fairly routine comedy of errors. The case for Harvey's being a pooka is well expounded, and we see physical evidence (swinging doors, the altered text of a book, etc., though never the rabbit himself). In one scene Elwood spells out a few of Harvey's abilities, notably that of stopping the clock for a while so that with him one can, as it were, take a break from Reality. There are further interesting asides on the natures of objective and subjective reality: "I've wrestled with reality for 35 years," says Elwood, "and I'm happy, doctor: I finally won out over it." [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.