My Life in Movies: Harriet the Spy




When I was growing up, movies were a big deal to me. I think they were even more of a big deal to me than they are now because the movies I watched and loved helped me become who I am. Those movies I cherished are sentimental to me now – they remind me of my childhood. Forts and tree swing making at grandmas, roller-skating in the lanai (fancy Hawaiian name for patio), playing mermaids in the neighbor’s swimming pool. These glorious memories were woven in between downtime – the downtime spent watching movies.

One of the movies that holds a particular sentimentality in me is Harriet the Spy. The book was actually my first book report – 2nd grade baby! This movie was particularly influential because it inspired a new hobby, spying! A movie like Harriet the Spy changes your life in that you become consumed by the art of becoming a spy. You make your mom buy you a black and white composition notebook. You scribe “PRIVATE” in all caps on the front, and write everything down. Your neighbor’s dog-walking schedule becomes important, the paper route, street cleaning – you document what used to be mundane observations, which have now become, “SPYING.”

I carried that dog-eared notebook filled with grocery lists my grandma used at the Commissary, my grandpa’s nap schedule, my cousin’s homework, and mom’s shoe wearing choices everywhere.

This movie was BIG. It changed my life. Gully, Harriet’s nanny, tells her if she wants to be a writer, she needs to write everything down. I think it was the first time I actively pursued writing. And let me tell you, the original notebook I found under my bed, is quite a hoot to read now. 7-year-old Hannah was a kooky kid.

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1. Yellow Marigold Raincoat, $94.99; 2. Marble Composition Notebook, $5.39; 3. Tonasa Striped Cotton Terry Tee, $175; 4. Toast Tennis Shoes, $140; 5. Opera Glasses 6. Torch Light, $48; 7. Ticonderoga #2 Pencil, 36 for $18.29; 8. Distressed 1969 Sexy Boyfriend Jeans, $69.95.

Harriet the Spy follows an upper middle class only child, Harriet, who spies around her neighborhood in New York City. She has an aspiring mad scientist girlfriend, Janie, and a struggling writer’s son guy friend, Sport. Harriet is close with her friends, but her introverted ways allow her to escape into her own world of spying. It is when these two worlds collide, with the help of her arch nemesis, a snobby girl whose name I cannot be bothered to remember, when things get sticky.




The movie aesthetics are classic and retro, yet incredibly mindful of its 90s time period. The movie depicts a safe New York City with kid friendly parks, mom and pop grocery stores, and a highbrow elementary school. I think you will enjoy the story and setting if you have yet to see this classic.

I remember the VHS was orange and I thought that was just the tops.