WINNER: TOP 25 LIBERTARIAN FILMS
A woman tries to have her eccentric brother institutionalized. [Dir: Henry Koster/ James Stewart, Josephine Hull, Peggy Dow, Charles Drake/ 104 min/ Comedy/ Psychiatry & Force, Social Tolerance]
Elwood P. Dowd is a gentle, harmless person. He’s kind to all he meets and sees the good in everyone and everything. But his peculiar belief that he is being accompanied through life by a giant invisible rabbit named Harvey is making life difficult for his live-in sister. So she decides to have him put away. That is, she tries to have him put away.
That’s the main source of comedy here—somehow the innocent Dowd keeps evading capture, and meanwhile the sanity of others comes into question.
This theme of social tolerance, of accepting benign differences in others, will appeal to libertarians. And it’s expressed here through one of the most charming comedies of confusion ever filmed. Part of the satisfaction of watching this film comes from its steadfast faith that truly kind people are protected in a way that less kind people can never understand—that the world really is a just place to that extent. It would be nice to think so.
James Stewart plays his leading role to the hilt and is supported by many wonderful performances in smaller roles, including that of Josephine Hull, who spends the entire film in near hysterics to great comic effect. This is a well written story full of good will and humor that implicitly defends the freedom of eccentrics to be eccentric.