A stage actor by the early '40s, Harvey appeared in the 1945 film Caesar and Cleopatra, and by the end of the decade was working as an editor. Harvey cut such notable films as John Boulting's I'm All Right, Jack, Bryan Forbes' The L-Shaped Room and The Whisperers, Stanley Kubrick's Lolita and Dr. Strangelove, and Martin Ritt's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. He debuted as a director in 1967 with Dutchman, an adaptation of LeRoi Jones' two-character play, which he also edited. Harvey had his first popular success with his second film, the historical drama The Lion in Winter, with Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn; he also guided Hepburn in a television film of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie and the black comedy Grace Quigley (aka The Ultimate Solution of Grace Quigley). Among his other theatrical features are They Might Be Giants and Richard's Things; his notable television films include The Disappearance of Aimee, Svengali and The Patricia Neal Story.