Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Classic Scenes #18

The pleasure of this scene from Harvey (1950) isn't just the quoteable wisdom of the words but also the music of their delivery. While all the focus is rightly on Stewart's iconic Elwood P. Dowd, don't miss the plummy rhythms of Cecil Kellaway as psychiatrist Dr. Chumley, the way he uses those crisp consonants and rolling rs to run his words into each other, riding the internal rhymes of lines like 'this sister of yours is at the bottom of a conspiracy against you.'
But then there's that lovely, rueful 'Ohhh doctor' from Stewart and like one musician handing over to another, he begins his solo. Notice the run-over into the next sentence before 'she always called me Elwood', those softly echoing 'oh sos' and the warm emphasise of 'I recommend pleasant'. It's a masterclass of tone and rhythm and I never grow tired of hearing or seeing it.

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