The trouble, if there is any, with Harry is how he brings out the honesty in everyone. But Harry is dead, and that’s awkward.
Released in 1955, there’s a refreshing quality to Trouble with Harry. At a time when TV was so polite as to be unreal, no one in Trouble with Harry dodges their feelings. For one, they don’t care Harry is dead. That’s just inconvenient – but also convenient, since his death leads to multiple pure-Hitchcock meet cutes amid the wonderful black British humor.
The Trouble with Harry enjoys the serenity
The Trouble with Harry enjoys the serenity
Take Sam Marlowe (John Forsythe) who upon finding Harry was the husband of local Jennifer Rogers (Shirley MacClane) immediately begins flirting, even suggesting she pose for a nude drawing. Or Ivy (Mildred Natwick) who catches Albert (Edmund Gwenn) dragging Harry’s body, then proceeds to invite him over for blueberry muffins. There’s nothing sinister about it. Instead, nobody lies about how much they enjoyed Harry (frequently, it’s the opposite), and instead delightfully, morbidly expresses their interest in each other.
The Trouble with Harry isn’t Hitchcok-ian in a traditional man-on-the-run or wrongly accused thriller, but it’s still beholden to the director’s wicked personality and obsession with murder, bodies, and mystery, even if the latter matters little. If anything, like the characters in this story, this is Hitchcock at his most open, most truthful, taking the mystery from death and turning it into a romance.
What’s key is the mellow tone, and set amid an infinitely gorgeous backdrop. The Trouble with Harry enjoys the serenity, and when using chaos, does so with a soft hand that doles out honest human nature where everything comes back to two things – sex and money. The script laughs at what moral standards considered salacious, and it’s easy to imagine a cranky puritan crowd finding the whole matter charmingly offensive up to the final line. There, it’s revealed Marlowe requested a double bed for him and his fiance to share before their marriage, this at a time when married couples on TV couldn’t be shown in the same bed.
All the while, there’s Harry, mostly unseen except for his pants and socks. He buried, dug up, then buried again. He represents this constant tussle between shared morals as the characters doubt themselves, or worry what the other is thinking. That’s meaningless bother because human nature rules this story, and in that, we’re not so different.
Opening with wide shots of forests in the fall, the ridiculous color will test any calibration. It’s raw visual splendor, splashing oranges and yellows against the purest green grass possible. This gorgeousness doesn’t stop, spreading to the flesh tones and every other primary in sight. Modern digital color grading can’t reach this level of vividness and saturation so organically.
This is paired to an increase in dynamic range courtesy of the HDR. Sunlight dribbles over the images, intense enough to make noticeable gains over the Blu-ray edition. This further draws out the color as well. Marvelous, thick shadows complement the scenery too, bulking up what’s nearly perfect mastering.
A few specks stick around through the years, but Trouble with Harry’s print stays spotless otherwise. Via a 4K scan, tremendous detail takes hold. Certain wide shots exhibit alignment errors, likely the source more than the scan process, but it’s possible either way. That’s minor and held to a few edits. The absolute splendor on display makes up the difference. Added resolution brings out every nuance in the forests, even down to blades of grass. Facial texture appears on the regular.
Bernard Herrmann’s score springs to life from this DTS-HD mono track, resolved well in the highs and presenting the slightest range. Clarity overall is high enough to pick up the obvious changes from dubbed dialog to live recordings. Unremarkable, but sufficient.
Aside from a trailer and images, a 32-minute featurette dates back to the DVD era, but it’s worth watching.
The Trouble with Harry
The Trouble with Harry drips with careful innuendo, polite dark humor, yet no genuine mystery and still feels every bit of Alfred Hitchcok’s personality.
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 44 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: