Analysis and review of The Trouble with Harry
Today is the first day of my short trip into the works of Alfred Hitchcock and it started with an interesting film: The Trouble with Harry. TTWH is the story of a man dying in the woods near a small town and a look at the lengths 2 couples go to make it look like they had nothing to do with his death (3 of the 4 people think they were the one who killed him, but **SPOILER ALERT FOR 60 YEAR OLD FILM** he died from natural causes). The movie mostly consists of the 4 characters burying the dead Harry, then digging him up only to find that they need to bury him again. Definitely not my favorite Hitchcock flick, but I did notice a couple of techniques that I really liked.
When there is a scene of dialog in TTWH the characters find themselves taking sides both in conversation and physically on screen. The back and forth camera views show which people are a part of which school of thought at any time that there is a conflict among our characters. The physical showing of allegiance even extends throughout a scene with actors crossing the room as they reconsider they thinking and change start to agree with the apposing point of view. I really like the technique as I feel like I could still keep up with the dialog’s progression even if I hadn’t heard a single word. It is also nice to see the standing of each of our suspected murderers throughout the film.
Many conversations in The Trouble with Harry are shot ignoring the common “3/4 of your face to the camera” rule and show the profile of the actor instead. Personally, I like this style of shooting as it makes me feel like the people are actually interested in what one another are saying and because the actors get to work together and actually react as a real person would. Given the time this movie was filmed, the reactions still seem very stiff and foreign to a modern viewer but I would say that the look of a face-to-face conversation does suit many situations on the screen nicely.
This was by far the aspect of The Trouble with Harry that grabbed my attention, the use of depth to create interesting visuals in this movie is great! What I would guess is the most famous shot from the movie (seen above) is a brilliant picturesque image of a man we think was murdered, lying on his back facing the open sky. There are also many other excellent examples of depth use (almost all of which revolve around the deceased Harry), all of my favorites are ways that they hide Harry’s face from the camera while our suspects are having conversations near him. He his hidden by bushes, rocks, piles of dirt, a bath tub, anything which would be natural in the area and usually all we see of the body is his feet. As Harry’s feet are his most prominent feature in the film, they are usually presented on screen in a way that makes it hard not to notice them (i.e. the above image).
All in all, I enjoyed the film. There was not particular character who I felt connected to and I definitely felt that I was watching a film instead of experiencing a situation (mostly from the comedic elements I would say). Not a Hitchcock movie I intend to come back to, but happy I watched it.