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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the late 50's and early '60's, the Boulting Brothers ( John and Roy
) turned out a string of classic comedies, each satirizing an aspect of
British life. In 'Private's Progress', they had a go at the Army, trade
unions came under fire in 'I'm All Right Jack', while 'Heavens Above'
was a thinly-disguised attack on The Welfare State, and 'Carlton-Browne
Of The F.O.' guyed foreign diplomacy. In 'Happy Is The Bride', marriage
came under their spotlight. It was a remake of 1941's 'Quiet Wedding',
directed by Anthony Asquith, and based on a play by Esther McCracken.
David Chaytor ( Ian Carmichael ) proposes clumsily to fiancée Janet Royd ( Jeanette Scott ) during a cricket match, and she accepts. Soon tongues start buzzing in the Wiltshire village where she lives. Janet's parents ( Cecil Parker and Edith Sharpe ) begin organising the wedding arrangements, or rather her mother does. Relatives pop up and soon the wedding starts to resemble a military exercise. The arrangements continue even after Janet breaks off the whole thing ( having spotted David in what she thinks is a tender embrace with brother John's flighty fiancée, played by Elvi Hale ). David tries to patch things up, and does so, but en route to church he crashes his car, and is arrested on the spot by an over-efficient policeman ( the great Terry-Thomas )...
Its a pretty thin story, but writers John Boulting and Jeffrey Dell get much comic mileage from it. Anyone married will recognise the circus that comes with the preparation for a wedding. Has Aunt Ethel been invited? Are the Reynolds from Number Twenty-Eight coming? What colour should the champagne be? The seating arrangements? The flowers? The bridesmaids? The gifts? And so on and so on. As the Cecil Parker character puts it: "Tomorrow I have to spend the whole day dressed as a waiter, watching people I don't know drinking champagne I cannot really afford!".
The cast is made up of wonderful comedy stalwarts such as John Le Mesurier, Irene Handl, Eric Barker ( as the vicar ), Cardew Robinson, Joyce Grenfell, Athene Sayler, Miles Malleson, Sam Kydd, Thorley Walters, Victor Maddern, and Nicholas Parsons. You can't go wrong with those people. My only complaint about this film is the relatively small role given to Terry-Thomas. With all due respect, anyone could have played it ( David Lodge must have been unavailable ).
Funniest moment? David telling his future father-in-law that he intends to support Janet by standing for the Liberal Party in a seat in the Outer Hebrides! Whilst not another 'Father Of The Bride' ( I'm talking of the Spencer Tracy version ), this is above average British comedy, and the very last scene ( the Terry-Thomas policeman getting his revenge on the newly-weds by slipping a ticket listing their car's faults under the windshield ) is a beauty. Let's have this on D.V.D. soon please.
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