Movie Hero of the Week: Barbara Harris*

Freaky Friday

Barbara Hilarious is more like it.

This woman is her own category of comedy.  Sure there’s a little bit of Goldie Hawn in there but it’s more ethereal.  It’s more womanly.  And there might even be more fake eyelashes.

The first time I experienced the genius of Barbara Harris was in the original Freaky Friday.  As a kid, I suppose I didn’t truly realize how grand this woman was.  I probably believed that they had ACTUALLY switched bodies, too.

You see Barbara Harris is cool.  REALLY cool.

She was one of the first members of Second City.  She married Paul Sills ( I bet he was a real peach, btw).  She has conquered both the stage and film. She’s got a great gravelly belt voice.  And she’s gorgeous.  But the main thing is she is funny.

She’s also a dyed-in-the-wool Midwesterner.

The movie that solidified her as one of my favorite actresses was Hitchcock’s final film, Family Plot.

Family Plot

I’ve talked about Family Plot before.  Edith Head did 70’s fashion mercifully the way it should have always been done.  I.e. natural fibers and precise fit.  Ah well.  I digress.

Harris takes the maiden-in-distress Hitchcock role and turns it on it’s head.  She is groovy, funny and indispensable.  I want to show you her fake fortune-teller scene.  Unfortunately I can’t find it, so check out this runaway car scene.  Ms. Harris frantically tries to protect herself with Bruce Dern’s tie.:

The lesson I take from Barbara Harris is to know when to be graceful and when to go ass up.  Her humor isn’t in the fall, but in the recovery.

Finally, here is a great 2002 interview with her, with an excellent jab at Karen Black’s schmacting.

Give Barbara Harris a whirl.  She’s Chicago-bred and no bullshit.  And fabulous.

*What is a movie hero? An un or under-sung member of the film making community who deserves more of the spotlight. And yet lack of such a spotlight often adds to their charm.

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2 thoughts on “Movie Hero of the Week: Barbara Harris*

  1. I just stumbled along this blog posting today, it is a very well written post. Barbara Harris was great in everything she did! It is a shame she isn’t acting anymore. Loved her in the original Freaky Friday and Hitchcock’s Family Plot!

  2. I just stumbled along this blog posting today, it is a very well written post. Barbara Harris was great in everything she did! It is a shame she isn’t acting anymore. Loved her in the original Freaky Friday and Hitchcock’s Family Plot!

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