A sunny autumn day in a small village in the American state of Vermont. In fine weather, several of the rather quirky villagers are out walking in the woods and, one by one, independently of each other, come across a man lying dead on a hill at the edge of the forest, whose identity turns out to be “Harry” on the basis of a letter found with him. For various reasons, none of the villagers are interested in the police learning of the deceased’s discovery: Retired captain and amateur hunter Albert Wiles imagines that he accidentally shot Harry; the elderly Ivy Gravely fears that she killed Harry with her walking stick to ward off his attempts to harass her; Harry’s wife Jennifer Rogers – who is separated from him – on the other hand, believes that she fatally hit him on the forehead with a milk bottle. The previously unsuccessful painter Sam Marlowe also gets caught up in the turmoil, especially since he finds Jennifer attractive and wants to meet her.
The four characters work together but are indecisive in their actions as new circumstances keep arising. For instance, when Albert finds out that he could not have shot Harry, he digs him up again. When Sam and Jennifer fall in love and become engaged without further ado, he is afraid that he might be suspected of having put Harry out of the way out of jealousy. So the body is dug back in and out several times. Albert and Ivy also grow closer, and she even invites him to a blueberry pie dinner. Sam also finally finds a taker for his paintings in a millionaire who is passing through. However, humorless deputy sheriff Calvin Wiggs, who is paid by the number of arrests he makes, gets dangerously close to the quartet. He finds a drawing by Sam that depicts the corpse of Harry – whose existence he knows about through a tramp.
At the end of two tumultuous days with the corpse, the four men call the local doctor for help, who – knowing of Harry’s existence – determines a normal heart attack as the cause of death. The four wash Harry, who is completely filthy from the excavation, and place him in his old spot. Then they have him discovered by Jennifer’s son Arnie, as he twists the days tomorrow, today, and yesterday. The trouble with Harry is thus over.
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Writing Credits: John Michael Hayes (screenplay), Jack Trevor Story (novel)
Starring: Edmund Gwenn (as Capt. Albert Wiles), John Forsythe (as Sam Marlowe), and Shirley MacLaine (as Jennifer Rogers)