The Happy Ending (1969)

R  |   |  Drama  |  22 May 1970 (Ireland)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 649 users  
Reviews: 20 user | 9 critic

A middle-aged woman walks out on her husband and family in an desperate attempt to find herself.



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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mary Wilson
Fred Wilson
Flo Harrigan
Mrs. Spencer
Harry Bricker
Franco (as Robert Darin)
Helen Bricker
Marge Wilson
Gail Hensley ...
William O'Connell ...
Minister (as Wm. O'Connell)
Barry Cahill ...
Handsome Man


The triumphs and failures of middle age as seen through the eyes of runaway American housewife Mary Wilson (Jean Simmons), a woman who believes that ultimate reality exists above and beyond the routine procedures of conscious, uninspired, everyday life. She feels cheated by an older generation that taught her to settle for nothing less than storybook finales, people who are disillusioned and restless and don't know why, people for whom life holds no easy answers. Great supporting cast includes John Forsythe, Teresa Wright, Lloyd Bridges, Shirley Jones, Bobby Darin, Tina Louise, Dick Shawn, and Nanette Fabray. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Beautiful face. Gorgeous body. Loving husband. A host of friends. But she's still missing everything a woman wants. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some substance abuse and brief nudity | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 May 1970 (Ireland)  »

Also Known As:

Amar Sem Amor  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Theresa Wright was just 11 years older than Jean Simmons, who was playing her daughter. See more »


During opening credit sequence, many late model 1960's cars can be seen in flashback scene supposedly set 15 years earlier. See more »


Flo: Lucky my mother hated breast-feeding or I'd've been alcoholic before I could walk.
See more »


Features Susan Lenox <Her Fall and Rise> (1931) See more »


Hurry Up 'N' Hurry Down
Music by Michel Legrand
Lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Performed by William Eaton (as Bill Eaton)
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User Reviews

"Vodka and Seconal: Marriage on the rocks!"
18 March 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Writer/Director Richard Brooks made some well respected films like In Cold Blood and The Blackboard Jungle, as well as this unintended camp fest. Like Brooks' Sweet Bird of Youth and Looking for Mr. Goodbar, The Happy Ending is an elaborately misconceived mess but, a lot more fun.

An apparently sincere attempt to portray middle-age unhappiness: infidelity,emptiness, aging, pills, and booze. Talented Jean Simmons (Great Expectations, Spartacus, Elmer Gantry) stars as an alcoholic Denver housewife along with a host of second string actors like Bobby Darin, Tina Louise, Nanette Fabray, Dick Shawn, and Shirley Jones who recite their laughable dialog as if it was profound. My favorite piece of imparted wisdom is delivered by Nanette Fabray: "If sex were the only thing that really mattered, the WHOLE WORLD would be run by rabbits!"

The Happy Ending may be best remembered for its Oscar-nominated theme song "What Are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life?" that's heard several times throughout the film. The film has an effective ending, fine cinematography from Conrad Hall, and as he did in Looking for Mr.Goodbar and In Cold Blood, Brooks uses extensive flashbacks and flashy editing. Jean Simmons, nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Hamlet in 1948, received her second Oscar nomination(Best Actress) for this film. She and director Brooks were married at the time. Released the same year as Easy Rider, The Wild Bunch, and Midnight Cowboy, The Happy Ending pretty much disappeared without a trace. Because it takes its subject seriously, the film becomes seriously funny. It does for desperate Denver housewives, what Valley of the Dolls did for ladies in showbiz. Hard to find but, worth catching.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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