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The Happy Ending (1969)

R | | Drama | 22 May 1970 (Ireland)
A middle-aged woman walks out on her husband and family in an desperate attempt to find herself.



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


Marriage is a 30 billion dollar business! And that's just to get married. 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
See  »

Did You Know?


Teresa 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 »


[last lines]
Mary Wilson: If... if right now we were not married, if you were free, would you marry me again ?
See more »


References From Here to Eternity (1953) See more »


Floating Time
Written and Performed by Michel Legrand
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User Reviews

Smashing Performance by Jean Simmons
22 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Happy Ending is dated and overlong but Jean Simmons is just terrific as the bored Denver housewife who turns to drink. Simmons earned her only Oscar nomination for this film. Many of the scenes in this film ring very hollow now, especially the "swinging" party where people actually KISS! Shocking. But looking past the hideous 1969 fashions worn by Simmons and Shirley Jones and Tina Louise, the film tries to take a serious look at modern-day marriages. So in counterpoint to the desperate housewives in Denver we get Shirley Jones as a happy hooker approaching 40 and getting a little desperate herself.

Simmons and Jones were college chums away back in 1953. Simmons married; Jones became a party girl. They meet on a plane to the Bahamas as Simmons is running away from her boring boozy life. Jones is shacked up with Lloyd Bridges. So we see the two extremes and two choices open for women. Luckily Simmons sees thru Bobby Darin's awful gigolo act and accent.

Back home Jones is abetted by a pill-popping cleaning lady (Nanette Fabray) who helps her thru her various crises with husband (John Forsythe), mother (Teresa Wright), and daughter(a very unappealing Kathy Fields). And then there are those parties! Poor Tina Louise is stuck married to schmuck Dick Shawn.

Best thing in this movie are the performances. Jean Simmons is just excellent as the smoldering wife who can't quite figure what's gone wrong. Shirley Jones is fine as the tramp. Nanette Fabray is funny and touching as the domestic. John Forsythe is OK as the dumb-ass husband. Tina Louise is good as the bored neighbor. And Teresa Wright is solid as the mother who just can't figure out the new generation and changing times. Dick Shawn and Kathy Fields are both lousy.

The film also boasts the excellent Michel Legrand song, "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?"

18 of 25 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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