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Olivia de Havilland,
Edward Everett Horton
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Olivia de Havilland,
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
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?"
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