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The Trouble with Harry (1955) - quotes

Quotations relating to The Trouble with Harry (1955)...


We went back to New York to complete the casting on the picture because nobody had been able to find anyone for the part of Jennifer. When I got to New York, my daughter had been telling me about a play in New York called "The Pajama Game" and kept insisting that I go and see it. And Shirley MacLaine was the understudy for Carol Haney the afternoon that we went to see it, but I thought it was Carol Haney. When the show was over, I said to Doc Erickson, the production manager, "Carol Haney is ideal for Jennifer, " and Doc said, "But that wasn't Carol Haney. It was a girl called Shirley MacLaine."

And I'd made arrangements for the Paramount office to pick her up and bring her to the St. Regis Hotel to meet Hitch and I on a certain morning, and that day we were in Hitch's suite working on the screenplay. The doorbell rang, and I opened the door, and there stood the most bedraggled figure I'd ever seen. It was Shirley MacLaine. She had no hat on her head, and rain was pouring off of her hair, down her face. She had a trench coat on, and the collar was covered with makeup. And it was open in front, and she had a brown, worn sweater and a skirt, also worn. I looked down on her feet, and she had on sandals with no socks, and she was really a bedraggled figure.

I said, "For goodness sakes, come in here." I said, "What happened to you? How'd you get so wet?" She said, "Well, I had to walk from the bus." I said, "But didn't the car pick you up?" She says, "No."

So I called to Alma. I said, "Alma, come and take this girl in there and give her something she could wear." So Alma came and took her to her bedroom and took those wet clothes off and gave her a robe to wear and called the people to come up and take her clothes down and dry them out for her, and that's the way we had the first interview for Shirley MacLaine.

Herbert Coleman (2001)
Coleman talking about discovering Shirley MacLaine

That's why, in the choosing of Shirley MacLaine, it was a marvelous thing. She's that kind of girl. She's so kooky and strange and funny, or was at that point. She's now graduated into other things. But she kept the humor up. I tried very hard to keep it up.

John Forsythe (2001)

Other Quotes about The Trouble with Harry (1955)

It was a nice piece of work. It was very clean and very funny and unlike the usual things that Hitchcock is associated with — for example, there were no great sexy scenes. Shirley MacLaine and I had a thing about getting married and getting a double bed. Other than that, there was nothing really sexy about the movie, unlike a lot of Hitchcock's movies which were very, very sexy.

John Forsythe (2001)
Forsythe talking about ''The Trouble with Harry''

Hitch insisted on having a real body to play the part of the dead body, and he chose an actor by the name of Philip Truex. When Philip Truex was ordered to come up to the location, he and my wife Mary Belle were on the same plane, and they were seated together, and there he discovered that Mary Belle was my wife, and Mary Belle discovered that he was going to play the part of the dead body. He played the part of the dead body very well, by the way.

Herbert Coleman (2001)

There are a couple of different accounts as to how Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock began working together. One that was told to me was from the composer Lyn Murray, who had scored the Hitchcock film "To Catch a Thief". For some reason Lyn Murray was not able to do "The Trouble with Harry", and Murray told me that he recommended his friend, Bernard Herrmann. And that's probably a credible story, although I think that Hitchcock and Herrmann certainly knew of each other's work at that time.

The score turned out to be a tremendously happy collaboration between the two. In fact, Hitchcock later said that it was his favorite of all of the scores that Bernard Herrmann wrote for him — even more than "Psycho" or "North by Northwest". He thought that Herrmann had done a superb job at capturing the macabre humor in the subject. I think that's one reason why he wanted to be very careful about the composer. I think he realized how important the music was going to be in helping carry the very delicate tone of this unusual film.

The main title of "The Trouble with Harry" contains several musical fragments that we'll hear throughout the score. And, in fact, I have to tell you, it's music that Bernard Herrmann did not originally write for this film. Some of it was new to the film, but much of it was taken from a radio series he had recently created called "Crime Classics" for CBS. When he saw "The Trouble with Harry", Bernard Herrmann immediately thought back to much of the music he had written for "Crime Classics", and, indeed, got permission to reuse some of that music in the score.

The main title with "The Trouble with Harry" establishes, really, the tone of the movie, the tone of the score, and it even is something of a musical portrait of its director. In fact, Bernard Herrmann so identified this particular film score with Hitchcock, that he later arranged the various themes into a suite, a concert suite that he called "A Portrait of Hitch," and he dedicated it to Alfred Hitchcock.

Bernard Herrmann recorded the music for "The Trouble with Harry" at Paramount, and apparently this was the first time he had worked at Paramount. His friend, Lyn Murray, had worked there on many occasions, and he tried to prepare everyone for a good session and told the orchestra how much they'd like Bernard Herrmann. He told Herrmann that these are a bunch of great guys. "You'll have a great time working together."

Well, that's not what happened. Herrmann was temperamental, he was explosive, and he was particularly explosive if he felt that musicianship was not up to what he expected. And he had been spoiled by working at 20th Century-Fox for many years where the musicianship was really the best of anywhere in Hollywood. He came to Paramount and immediately started berating the orchestra. He was, evidently, very hard on the oboist who had a lot of important solos in the score. And pretty soon everybody despised him. He had a miserable time with them, and the work got done, but it was not a happy experience.

"The Trouble with Harry" marked the beginning of the most important creative association in his career, that with Alfred Hitchcock. Herrmann knew exactly what Hitchcock was trying to achieve, not just on a basic plot level. He didn't just decorate the film with his music the way I think some composers did, and I think that's why Hitchcock immediately realized that he had found the collaborator that he wanted to continue working with.

Steven C. Smith (2001)