2 user 1 critic

What a Life (1939)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama | 6 October 1939 (USA)
In the first Henry Aldrich film, Henry (Jackie Cooper) is falsely accused of making trouble at school. He must clear himself.


(as Jay Theodore Reed)


(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Dashing reporter Vincent Bullit has just returned from covering the Spanish Civil War. His boss, newspaper magnate Fullerton, has more plans to send him off to China. However, first ... See full summary »

Director: Edward Ludwig
Stars: Deanna Durbin, Melvyn Douglas, Jackie Cooper
Midnight (1939)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A chorus girl stranded in Paris is set up by a millionaire to break up his wife's affair with another man.

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Stars: Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, John Barrymore
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Stopped in Mexico by U.S. Immigration, Georges Iscovescu hopes to get into the country by marrying a citizen.

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Stars: Charles Boyer, Olivia de Havilland, Paulette Goddard
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A brash American gramophone salesman tries to get Emperor Franz Joseph's endorsement in turn-of-the-century Austria.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Bing Crosby, Joan Fontaine, Roland Culver
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A woman disguises herself as a child to save on a train fare and is taken in charge by an army man who doesn't notice the truth.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland, Rita Johnson
Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Popular songwriter Oliver Courtney has been getting by for years using one ghost writer for his music and another for his lyrics. When both writers meet at an inn, they fall in love and ... See full summary »

Director: Victor Schertzinger
Stars: Bing Crosby, Mary Martin, Basil Rathbone
Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

During World War II, an undercover British soldier tries get word to the Allies that the Germans have tons of supplies buried in five excavations across Egypt.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Franchot Tone, Anne Baxter, Akim Tamiroff
Seventeen (1940)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Willy Baxter is now 17, which is practically 18, so he prefers "William". William is supposed to be studying for college entrance exams, but a sophisticated Chicago girl arrives in town. ... See full summary »

Director: Louis King
Stars: Jackie Cooper, Betty Field, Otto Kruger
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Jealous piano teacher Orville Spooner sends his beautiful wife, Zelda, away for the night while he tries to sell a song to famous nightclub singer Dino, who is stranded in town.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Dean Martin, Kim Novak, Ray Walston
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A dashing pilot and a vivacious reporter have romantic and dramatic adventures in Europe as World War II begins.

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Stars: Claudette Colbert, Ray Milland, Dennis O'Keefe
Comedy | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A crew of young military-school cadets are enjoying their first weekend in Paris. Frank Harrington, a girl-shy cadet, wins the lottery which "They" have organized, an Frank wins the right ... See full summary »

Director: Wilhelm Thiele
Stars: Lew Ayres, Pat Paterson, Peggy Fears
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

In West Berlin during the Cold War, a Coca-Cola executive is given the task of taking care of his boss' socialite daughter.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: James Cagney, Horst Buchholz, Pamela Tiffin


Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Aldrich
Barbara Pearson
Mr. Nelson
Miss Shea
Vaughan Glaser ...
J.C. Bradley
Mrs. Aldrich
George Bigelow
Dorothy Stickney ...
Miss Wheeler
Miss Pike
Mr. Patterson
Pinkie Peters
Professor Abernathy


In the first Henry Aldrich film, Henry (Jackie Cooper) is falsely accused of making trouble at school. He must clear himself.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

henry aldrich | based on play | See All (2) »


Comedy | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

6 October 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Vida Começa aos 14  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


What A Life opened at the Biltmore Theater on April 13, 1938 and ran for 538 performances. See more »


Followed by Life with Henry (1940) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

What a Life was the first film version of Henry Aldrich, played here by Jackie Cooper
17 January 2015 | by See all my reviews

If you've read under my username for the past several months, you know I've been reviewing most of the Our Gang film entries in chronological order as well as separate features and shorts that have individual members in them the same way in between those entries. So it is that I'm now reviewing former member Jackie Cooper-a teen by this point-playing someone close to his age as a high school student named Henry Aldrich. He's an average student who gets pranked on by sports-lettered guy George Bigelow (James Corner) and crushed on by a fellow student named Barbara Pearson (Betty Field) who's initially shy with braces before getting a transformation. Adapted from Clifford Goldsmith's play by Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder (yes, you read that right), What a Life is both funny and quite touching if a little exaggerated in some of the situations. So on that note, that's a recommendation. P.S. One of the teen girls was played by a Janet Waldo, perhaps best known as the voice of eternal teen Judy Jetson on "The Jetsons".

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 2 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Zach Braff on "Alex, Inc." and the Art of Directing

Zach Braff takes "The IMDb Show" behind the scenes of his new series "Alex, Inc." and reveals Morgan Freeman’s favorite on-set prank.

Watch now