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Lesley Ann Warren
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A happy and unbelievably lucky young Irish immigrant, John Lawless, lands a job as the butler of an unconventional millionaire, Biddle. His daughter, Cordelia Drexel Biddle, tires of the unusual antics of her father--especially since the nice young men around town all fear him. Wouldn't you fear a father-in-law that keeps alligators for pets and teaches boxing at his daily Bible classes? Cordelia decides to run off to boarding school and promptly finds the man of her dreams. Unfortunately, his family doesn't approve of Biddle's outrageous antics, either. A Disney musical punctuated by snappy songs and an energetic debut by Tommy Steele. This is reportedly one of the last live- action films Walt Disney personally oversaw. Written by
Tim Kretschmann <Tim.K@VirComm.com>
The story is set between September, 1916 and June, 1917. Duke University archives show Angie and Cordie's oldest child, Angier Biddle Duke, was born in November, 1915. The younger Angie was a career diplomat and state department chief of protocol when the movie was made. See more »
Well now, ain't this an elegant neighborhood, all the residents dressed so fine! One day off the boat am I, with a job that's nearly mine! 'Tis a job with an elegant millionaire, and his elegant family! Today I move from immigrant - to high society!
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I have always loved musicals, but I've never cared for the most popular ones from the 50s and 60s, such as "The Sound Of Music". However, "The Happiest Millionaire" scores on every level. The music is superb, and there's a ton of it. Tommy Steele does indeed steal the show as a new immigrant who shows up for an interview to become a butler, not quite realizing how wacky the Biddle family really is. His tunes are the most lively, particularly the bar scene. However, others such as Fred Macmurray and Leslie Anne Warren really shine here too. And who knew John Davidson had talents outside of being a game show host? This is a real diamond in the rough.
Some minor guidelines - the Roadshow edition has quite a bit of extra footage, and for those of us who know the standard edition by heart, it's great to find little bits and pieces (20 minutes worth, overall) that we've never seen, including parts of some of the songs. However, the standard edition is a tighter movie and keeps things moving more quickly - and since the standard edition is already over 2 hours and 20 minutes, I'd recommend it first. Then if you like it, the Roadshow gives you more of the best stuff.
This was Disney's last picture, and from all accounts he loved it, even though it was unsuccessful due to being released at just the wrong time. With 30 years distance, though, it is still so much fun that I'd love to see it made into an actual Broadway show. Oh, well, one can dream...
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