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Young, naive Luisa Ginglebusher, who loves fairy tales, leaves the Budapest orphanage to become a movie usherette. Soon she befriends paternal waiter Detlaff and not so paternal Konrad, a meat-packing millionaire. Uninterested in Konrad's rich gifts, Luisa schemes to be a "good fairy" and divert some of this wealth to poor stranger Dr. Sporum. But it's not that simple... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
On July 31, 1944, Deanna Durbin, Fredric March and June Lockhart acted in a 30-minute radio adaptation of the film, presented on the "Screen Guild Theatre" by CBS. Two-and-one-half years later, Miss Durbin starred in a musical remake of this picture, entitled I'll Be Yours (1947), which opened on February 2. See more »
[In an energetic telling of a fairy tale for the other orphans]
Wampa wampa, Wumpa wumpa, Eenie meenie minie mo; Sweet and faithful Rosalinda, Take me where I want to go.
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Sturgis showing his comic abilities - but still in the wings
Before "Christmas In July" and "The Great McGinty" Preston Sturgis was a screenplay writer - one of the two great screenplay writers of the 1930s who graduated into very respectable directorial careers (the other being Billy Wilder, of course). Oddly both men cut their abilities at Paramount, not MGM. And both claimed that they were dissatisfied with the ways two of their best scripts were shot ("Easy Living" and "Remember The Night"), butchered (in their opinion) by the same director: Mitchell Leisin.
Actually this was hardly fair to Leisin. If he did not have quite the cynical bite of either Sturgis or Wilder, he did not ruin their screenplays. He tended to make characters more human. Moreover, it is hard to support the comment about "Easy Living", when Leisin is credited (not Wilder and Charles Brackett his partner) with the most famous scene in that film: Leisin created the Automat scene where all the doors of the Automat food compartment fly open and all the bums in New York City run amok getting free food! This was not ruining a film, but improving it.
Sturgis' screenplays were an interesting group. He wrote the screenplay for the Edward Arnold biography "Diamond Jim". He also did the Ronald Colman - Basil Rathbone film "If I Were King". He also did the Bob Hope
Martha Raye - Andy Devine comedy "Never Say Die". His screenplay work
was generally quite sharp, and never sharper (prior to his own directing) than in "The Good Fairy".
Margaret Sullavan plays Luisa Ginglebusher, who has just come of age, and has to leave the convent school presided over by Beulah Bondi. Luisa has been well brought up, and she is determined to live up to the best traditions. One thing is her determination to do good. Naturally, she is like a wide eyed lamb in a world of wolves. Sure enough she soon is taken (briefly) under the wing of an arch-wolf, Cesar Romero. But she finds she has attracted a good fairy of her own, Detlaff the waiter (Reginald Owen). If one thinks of Owen solely from his nice performance as Ebenezer Scrooge, it is wonderful to see him kick off his comic shoes and timing in a film like this. He sees Luisa as a decent girl, and she is making sure she remains that way in the wilds of the wicked city of Budapesth.
But Luisa sees herself as a good fairy, and she picks, out of a telephone book, a name of a person to help. It is a lawyer, Dr. Max Sporum (Herbert Marshall - complete with chin whiskers). Sporum is a fiercely honest attorney (which explains the lack of clients). Luisa, when she discovers this, decides to encourage customers. She has attracted one old goat: Konrad a rich meat factory owner (Frank Morgan). She manages to convince him that she is married to the struggling Sporum, and that she would do anything to help her "husband" make a success. Konrad takes the hint, and goes to Sporum to make him his lawyer. Sporum is amazed but thinks Konrad was told about him by an old law professor, Dr. Stanislav Metz (Eric Blore). When Luisa talks to him about his success afterward Sporum is still in a state of euphoria (he took some of the first retainer money to buy a pencil sharpener). Luisa does suggest some new clothing and he shave off his whiskers.
Eventually Luisa is in over her head, as she tries to balance Sporum (who she is falling for), Konrad, and the guardian angel Detlaff. And it's done quite well. Look at the scene where Detlaff is serving Konrad and Luisa in the restaurant and keeps knocking every possible dish Konrad suggests they order ("What kind of restaurant is this?", a perplexed Konrad/Morgan asks). The scene where Marshall has to shave his beard (Luis Alberni is the barber - also with a beard) is brief but funny, as Alberni tries to talk Marshall out of the sacrifice. He just barely loses.
It was a wonderful comedy, hinting at what the writer was capable of. And with names like Sporum and Ginglebusher future Sturgis names like Kockenlocker and Hackensacker were just around the corner. One only regrets that none of the leads, except Cesar Romero, ever appeared in a Sturgis film when he was directing them.
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