Fall, Leaves, Fall

Photo by: slack12

Photo by: slack12

Is this going to be a spectacular year for fall foliage?  Will the days be sunny?  Will the nights be cool?  If you must stay home to rake leaves rather than take a drive to admire their colors but don’t want to miss out on the scenery, download Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry (1955).

The Trouble with Harry is set in a quaint Vermont village. Its pace is leisurely.  The characters are quirky.  The humor is black, but the landscape is golden.

The situation at the heart of the story is “most unfortunate” as “Harry is, well, he’s dead,” the narrator for the movie trailer tells us.

Adorable Jerry Mathers (and he is adorable here, looking like a young Beaver Cleaver), no more than six years old, is the first to stumble across the corpse on the hillside. Others happen on the scene.

Edmund Gwenn as an old sea captain is sure that he killed the man with a stray shot from his rifle while hunting rabbits.

Shirley MacLaine in her debut role is Harry’s estranged wife.  She believes she’s responsible for his death as she hit him with a milk bottle when he unexpectedly showed up at her front door.

Mildred Natwick as the town’s old maid believes she did him in after striking him with a blow from the heel of her hiking boot.

John Forsythe plays an artist only too willing to help his friends bury the body, dig it up, and repeat the process several more times. “We don’t quite know what to do about Harry,” he says, completely unperturbed, as they all were, by the untoward state of affairs.

Production of The Trouble with Harry had its troubles, too. Heavy rains made location shooting impossible, so many exterior scenes were shot inside.

The crew showed up at the end of September expecting the fall foliage to be at its peak.  It wasn’t.  To create the right look and feel, boxes of leaves were shipped to California and pinned onto trees on a studio soundstage.

Although fairing poorly at the box office, in fact, losing a half a million dollars on a budge of $1.2 million (it costs money to pin leaves on trees), The Trouble with Harry was one of Hitchcock’s favorite films. Shot in Technicolor, it’s worth a look.

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

For a quick peek: