The Trouble with Harry

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The Trouble with Harry
The Trouble with Harry.jpg
Original poster
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Produced by Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay by John Michael Hayes
Based on The Trouble with Harry
1950 novel
by Jack Trevor Story
Starring Edmund Gwenn
John Forsythe
Shirley MacLaine
Mildred Natwick
Mildred Dunnock
Jerry Mathers
Royal Dano
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography Robert Burks
Edited by Alma Macrorie
Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
(original release)
Universal Pictures
(1984 re-release)
Release date
  • October 3, 1955 (1955-10-03)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1.2 million
Box office $3.5 million

The Trouble with Harry is a 1955 American Technicolor black comedy film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The screenplay by John Michael Hayes was based on the 1949 novel by Jack Trevor Story. It starred Edmund Gwenn and John Forsythe; Jerry Mathers and Shirley MacLaine, in her first film role. The Trouble with Harry was released in the United States on October 3, 1955, then re-released in 1984 once the distribution rights had been acquired by Universal Pictures.

The action in The Trouble with Harry takes place during a sun-filled autumn in the Vermont countryside. The fall foliage and the beautiful scenery around the village, as well as Bernard Herrmann's light-filled score, all set an idyllic tone. The story is about how the residents of a small Vermont village react when the dead body of a man named Harry is found on a hillside. The film is, however, not really a murder mystery; it is essentially a romantic comedy with thriller overtones, in which the corpse serves as a Macguffin. Four village residents end up working together to solve the problem of what to do with Harry. In the process the younger two (an artist and a very young, twice-widowed woman) fall in love and become a couple, soon to be married. The older two residents (a captain and a spinster) also fall in love.

The film was one of Hitchcock's few true comedies (though most of his films had some element of tongue-in-cheek or macabre humor). The film also contained what was, for the time, frank dialogue. One example of this is when John Forsythe's character unabashedly tells MacLaine's character that he would like to paint a nude portrait of her. The statement was explicit compared with other contemporary movies.


The quirky but down-to-earth residents of the small hamlet of Highwater, Vermont, are faced with the freshly dead body of Harry Worp (Philip Truex), which has inconveniently appeared on the hillside above the town. The problem of who the person is, who was responsible for his sudden death, and what should be done with the body is "the trouble with Harry."

Captain Wiles (Edmund Gwenn) is sure that he killed the man with a stray shot from his rifle while hunting, until it is shown he actually shot a rabbit. Jennifer Rogers (Shirley MacLaine), Harry's estranged wife, believes she killed Harry because she hit him hard with a milk bottle. Miss Gravely (Mildred Natwick) is certain that the man died after a blow from the heel of her hiking boot when he lunged at her out of the bushes (still reeling from the blow received at the hands of Jennifer). Sam Marlowe (John Forsythe), an attractive and nonconformist artist, is open-minded about the whole event, and is prepared to help his friends and neighbors in any way he can. In any case, no one is upset at all about Harry's death.

However, they all are hoping that the body will not come to the attention of "the authorities" in the form of cold, humorless Deputy Sheriff Calvin Wiggs (Royal Dano), who earns his living per arrest. The Captain, Jennifer, Miss Gravely and Sam bury the body and then dig it up again several times throughout the day. They then hide the body in a bathtub before finally putting it back on the hill where it first appeared, in order to make it appear as if it was just discovered.

Finally it is learned that Harry died of natural causes; no foul play at all was involved. In the meantime, Sam and Jennifer have fallen in love and wish to marry, and the Captain and Miss Gravely have also become a couple. Sam has been able to sell all his paintings to a passing millionaire, although Sam refuses to accept money, and instead requests a few simple gifts for his friends and himself.



The title shot in the film trailer shows the discovery of Harry by Arnie (Jerry Mathers).

Primary location shooting took place in Craftsbury, Vermont. Assuming that the town would be in full foliage, the company showed up for outdoor shots on September 27, 1954. To the filmmakers' shock, there was hardly any foliage left; to achieve a full effect, leaves were glued to the trees.[1] Several scenes in the film had to be shot in a rented high school gym because of persistent rain. In the gym, a 500 lb (226 kg) camera fell from a great height and barely missed hitting Hitchcock, and the sound of the rain on the roof of the gym necessitated extensive post-production re-recording.[citation needed] Other locations included Morrisville and Barre,[2] with the shooting lasting up to December of that year.[3] Full details on the making of the film are in Steven DeRosa's book Writing with Hitchcock.[4]

Alfred Hitchcock's cameo is a signature occurrence in most of his films. In The Trouble with Harry, he can be seen 21 minutes into the film as he walks past a parked limousine while an old man looks at paintings for sale at the roadside stand.

The corpse, Harry Worp, was played by Philip Truex (1911-2008), who was the son of character actor Ernest Truex.

Musical score[edit]

The Trouble With Harry (1998 Re-recording) Soundtrack
The Trouble with Harry Soundtrack.jpg
Soundtrack album by Bernard Herrmann
Released July 27, 1998
Recorded April 29, 1998
Genre Pop
Length 99 minutes
Label Varèse Sarabande
Director Joel McNeely
Producer Robert Townson

The Trouble with Harry is notable as a landmark in Hitchcock's career as it marked the first of several highly regarded collaborations with composer Bernard Herrmann. In an interview for The New York Times on June 18, 1971, Hitchcock stated that the score was his favorite of all his films. Herrmann rerecorded a new arrangement of highlights from the film's score for Phase 4 Stereo[5] with Herrmann calling the arrangement A Portrait of Hitch.

A song sung by John Forsythe's character, "Flaggin' the Train to Tuscaloosa", was written by Raymond Scott. Forsythe is not the performer, however.

A "cash-in" song titled "The Trouble with Harry" was written by Floyd Huddleston with Herb Wiseman and Mark McIntyre. A recording of the song by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. (using the pseudonym of "Alfi & Harry") was released as a single in early 1956, reaching #44 on the US Billboard chart and #15 on the UK singles chart. A competing version by Les Baxter reached #80 on the Billboard chart. The title aside, the record had no connection with the film.

1998 re-recording[edit]

Originally released on October 3, 1955,[6] the original soundtrack was re-recorded in 1998 and released on CD that same year, under the Varèse Sarabande label.[7][8] All the original music, composed by Bernard Herrmann, was re-recorded at the City Halls, Glasgow, Scotland, on April 29, 1998, performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, under the conduction of Joel McNeely.[9]

The re-recording was originally released on CD in the United Kingdom on July 27, 1998,[10] and in the United States on October 6, 1998.[11] It was later re-released in the UK on May 16, 2014,[12] and in the U.S.A on July 21, 2014.[13]

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Bernard Herrmann, conducted by Joel McNeely and performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.[14][15].


The world premiere of The Trouble with Harry was in Vermont (where it was shot), with revenue donated to victims of a recent flood.[16] It was a box office disappointment, earning only $3.5 million in the United States.[17] Although the movie was a financial failure in the U.S., it played for a year in England and Rome, and a year and a half in France.

The film rights reverted to Hitchcock following its initial release. It was unavailable for nearly 30 years, other than a showing on NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies network television broadcast in the early 1960s. After protracted negotiations with the Hitchcock estate, Universal finally reissued it in 1984, along with four others, including Rear Window and Vertigo which in turn led to VHS and eventually DVD and Blu-ray versions for the home video market.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Barton Chronicle book review Archived May 10, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. retrieved August 21, 2009
  2. ^ "The Trouble with Harry (1955) - Filming Locations". IMDb. Retrieved October 14, 2016. 
  3. ^ "The Trouble with Harry (1955) - Filming Dates". IMDb. Retrieved October 14, 2016. 
  4. ^ Writing with Hitchcock
  6. ^ "The Trouble With Harry (1998 Re-recording) Soundtrack: Product Details - Original Release Date". October 6, 1998. Retrieved October 16, 2016. 
  7. ^ "The Trouble with Harry (VSD 5971, 1998): Catalogue". Retrieved October 16, 2016. 
  8. ^ "The Trouble With Harry (1998 Re-recording) Soundtrack: Product Details - Label". October 6, 1998. Retrieved October 16, 2016. 
  9. ^ "The Trouble with Harry (VSD 5971, 1998): Notes". Retrieved October 16, 2016. 
  10. ^ "The Trouble with Harry (VSD 5971, 1998): Release date". Retrieved October 16, 2016. 
  11. ^ "The Trouble With Harry (1998 Re-recording) Soundtrack: Product Details - Audio CD". October 6, 1998. Retrieved October 16, 2016. 
  12. ^ "The Trouble With Harry: Product Details - Original Release Date". July 21, 2014. Retrieved October 16, 2016. 
  13. ^ "The Trouble With Harry: Product Details - Release Date". July 21, 2014. Retrieved October 16, 2016. 
  14. ^ "The Trouble with Harry (VSD 5971, 1998): Tracks". Retrieved October 16, 2016. 
  15. ^ "The Trouble With Harry (1998 Re-recording) Soundtrack". October 6, 1998. Retrieved October 16, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Production Notes". The Trouble with Harry (DVD). Universal Studios Home Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 9781417058952. 
  17. ^ "The Trouble with Harry (1955) - Rentals". IMDb. Retrieved October 14, 2016. 
  18. ^ Return of the missing Hitchcocks - The Times 15 November 1983

External links[edit]