Love Happy

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Love Happy
Love Happy.jpg
Directed by David Miller
Produced by Mary Pickford
David Miller
Written by Mac Benoff
Frank Tashlin
Harpo Marx (story)
Starring Harpo Marx
Chico Marx
Groucho Marx
Ilona Massey
Vera-Ellen
Marion Hutton
Marilyn Monroe
Music by Ann Ronell
Cinematography William Mellor
Editing by Basil Wrangell
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates October 12, 1949 (San Francisco Premiere)
March 3, 1950
Running time 85 minutes (VHS and television prints), 91 minutes (DVD)
Country United States
Language English

Love Happy was the 14th (including Humor Risk) and last starring feature for the Marx Brothers. The film stars Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, and, in a smaller role than usual, Groucho Marx, plus Ilona Massey, Vera-Ellen, Paul Valentine, Marion Hutton, Raymond Burr, Bruce Gordon (in his film debut), and Eric Blore, with a walk-on by Marilyn Monroe. It was directed by David Miller, and written by Frank Tashlin and Mac Benoff, based on a story by Harpo.[citation needed]

The film was produced by former silent film star Mary Pickford and released by United Artists. Although shooting began in August 1948, the film was not released generally until March 3, 1950. (The film stated copyright as 1949, however, because the movie premiered in San Francisco in October 1949.) The production ran out of money during shooting, so a unique form of product placement (rare for the time) was featured in a rooftop chase around advertising billboards.[1]

Plot[edit]

A group of aspiring actors are putting together a musical revue called Love Happy. Harpo, the troupe's mascot, keeps the actors from starving by stealing canned goods from a local grocer. On one occasion, he accidentally grabs a sardine can containing the stolen Romanoff diamonds. As a result, Harpo becomes the target of adventuress Madame Egilichi (Ilona Massey) and her stooges (Melville Cooper, Raymond Burr, Bruce Gordon).

Production[edit]

Love Happy was originally conceived as a solo vehicle for Harpo under the title Diamonds in the Sidewalk,[2] but Groucho often said the brothers did the film to help Chico pay off gambling debts. Once Chico was in, the producers refused to finance it unless all three Marx Brothers were featured.[1]

Groucho appears without his usual greasepaint moustache and thick eyebrows. He is rarely in the same scenes as his brothers (the three are never seen together), and mainly provides an encompassing narration to explain things in the film when the necessary sequences for a coherent narrative were unavailable.[1] Groucho avoided mentioning the film at all in his autobiography, Groucho and Me (1959), apparently at that time considering A Night in Casablanca (1946) their last film together. He did acknowledge the film in his later book, The Groucho Phile: An Illustrated Life (1976). Because of the encapsulated nature of Groucho's scenes, it had been assumed that his presence was an afterthought. However, recently discovered letters from Groucho show that he was to have been part of the project from its earliest stages in 1946-47.[1]

Product placement[edit]

In its 8 October 1949 front page editorial, as well as its review of the movie in the same issue,[3] the motion picture trade periodical Harrison's Reports, which always disapproved of any movie showing brand-name products, severely criticized this film for its rooftop chase among billboards promoting Baby Ruth, General Electric, Fisk Tires, Bulova watches, Kool cigarettes, Wheaties and Mobil.

Reception[edit]

Love Happy is regarded as the worst Marx Brothers movie. The Internet Movie Database rates The Story of Mankind lower, but that was not specifically produced as a Marx Brothers vehicle.

At the end of his March 8, 1950 episode of his You Bet Your Life radio show, Groucho lamely promotes the film as "Harpo, Chico, and I tell a few jokes and do some acting. It's very educational." In later years, on Today, Groucho dismissed it as a "terrible movie", while speaking of the lasting impression Marilyn Monroe made during her screen test. Video on YouTube

Musical numbers[edit]

  • "Love Happy"
  • "Who Stole the Jam?"
  • Sadie Thompson number (including "Willow Weep for Me")
  • "Gypsy Love Song" and "I'm Daffy Over You" (Marx and Belasco)
  • Swanee River"
  • "Polonaise in A-Flat"

The film has a musical score and lyrics by Ann Ronell, with a lively film noirish dancing version of Sadie Thompson featuring Vera-Ellen and former ballet dancer Paul Valentine as one of the US Marines on a South Pacific Island.

Chico plays a duet on "Gypsy Love Song" with actor-musician Leon Belasco as Mr. Lyons, the owner of the stage props and costumes. Belasco, on violin, starts playing many fancy trills until Chico says, "Look, Mista Lyons, I know you wanna make a good impression — but please, don't play better than me!"

Cast[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Stables, Kate (1992). The Marx Bros. Secaucus, New Jersey: Chartwell Books. ISBN 1-55521-793-1. 
  2. ^ http://www.thecolumnists.com/bawden/bawden73.html
  3. ^ Harrison's Reports; 8 October 1949, page 162

External links[edit]