The Pursuit of Happiness (1971 film)

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The Pursuit of Happiness
The Pursuit of Happiness VideoCover.jpeg
Directed by Robert Mulligan
Produced by David Susskind
Written by Jon Boothe
George L. Sherman
Thomas Rogers
Starring Michael Sarrazin
Barbara Hershey
Music by Dave Grusin
Cinematography Dick Kratina
Edited by Folmar Blangsted
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • February 23, 1971 (1971-02-23)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Pursuit of Happiness is a 1971 American drama film about a student who goes on the run to avoid serving his full prison sentence for vehicular manslaughter. The film was directed by Robert Mulligan. The producer was David Susskind and the associate producer, Alan Shayne. The screenplay was written by Jon Boothe and George L. Sherman.


Disenchanted college student William Popper (Michael Sarrazin) is convicted of vehicular manslaughter for killing a woman with his car. With only a week left on his sentence and the help of his girlfriend, Jane (Barbara Hershey), he escapes to Canada, making both of them wanted fugitives.



Alan Bacchus of Daily Film Dose said: "Of course it’s 1970, and though it seemed like a liberal film at the time it is completely out to lunch and is Hollywood fantasy of the highest order. It’s a shame because the opening act sets up an interesting intellectual take on the difference between moral idealism and reality. Unfortunately, the film shamelessly separates the pack into liberals good and republicans bad. ... The Pursuit of Happiness constantly rides a teeter-totter of honest realism and complete ineptitude. At one point William breaks out of jail with one week left in his sentence, an act completely out of character, not to mention illogical. Add to this scene another puke-inducing Randy Newman song and it’s more cartooning around. The prison life is ridiculous. Dramatized with quirky characters and fun personalities, it’s a summer camp-like fantasy prison. ... Mulligan also completely destroys the suspense of William’s flight to Canada with barely even a roadblock in his way. Sarrazin is a fine actor and extremely likeable, but his character and his morals are never really challenged, especially when the consequences would be going back to that fun Shawshank prison."[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alan Bacchus, "The Pursuit of Happiness" Review, Feb. 25, 2012

External links[edit]