6.5/10
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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.

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

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

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Country:

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Release Date:

22 May 1970 (Ireland)  »

Also Known As:

Amar Sem Amor  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

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

Quotes

Mary Wilson: I've found the secret formula: IF you look and smell right, IF your hair is the right color, if you drive the right car, smoke the right cigarette, if your bosom is big, and firm, and fully packed, and your breath is sweet and your teeth are bright, then you'll find love, marriage, and be happy forever... if - IF - you promise never, but never, to grow old.
Sam: Why not? It's the American Dream.
Mary Wilson: I thought that was money?
Sam: Love and money are related by marriage.
Flo: Daddy, what's marriage?
Sam: Business. BIG ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Features Smilin' Through (1932) See more »

Soundtracks

Whistle While You Swing
Written and Performed by Michel Legrand
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Who Was Ever Promised A Storybook Ending?
11 May 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Take a good look at the film credits of Jean Simmons especially during the Fifties and you'll find that woman has been in some of the best movies ever made. Yet nary an Oscar nomination for her until The Happy Ending and she lost that year to Maggie Smith for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

A great example of this would be Elmer Gantry where Jean did not get a nomination unlike the Oscars won by her co-stars Burt Lancaster and Shirley Jones. Yet she did walk off with the director Richard Brooks who became her second husband. It was Brooks who wrote and directed The Happy Ending about a woman tipping into forty something who still has a whole lot of silly romantic notions.

Jean and husband John Forsythe are approaching their twentieth anniversary together and she feels in a rut. So she indulges in all kinds of bad behavior, runs up huge charge account bills, starts drinking like a fish, runs away to a vacation in the Bahamas where an old college pal, Shirley Jones, takes her in.

Elia Kazan in the same year 1969 did a similar film from the man's point of view, The Arrangement which starred Kirk Douglas. The Happy Ending however is far better and it might really have been interesting if Deborah Kerr in that film had gone off the edge the way Jean does here.

In The Happy Ending Jean loves watching Casablanca and I find it fascinating that she picks that as a great romantic film. If memory serves that's the one where Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman give up their personal happiness for what they conceive as the greater good.

I do like Shirley Jones in this film as the old college sorority chum who eschewed marriage to just being a permanent 'other' woman. She's had three so far and she's accompanying a fourth to Nassau in the person of Lloyd Bridges. It's fascinating that only Richard Brooks cast Shirley in parts where she wasn't a goody goody and she won great acclaim and an Oscar for being prostitute in Elmer Gantry.

Jean's partial solution to her problems in the end is a very typical feminist one which I will not reveal. As to whether she's damaged her relationship with Forsythe beyond repair, that's anyone's guess.

You will also like Teresa Wright as Jean's mother, Bobby Darin as an about to go over the hill gigolo, and Tina Louise as the neighbor who's ready to take Jean's place with Forsythe any time.

Besides Jean Simmons nomination, The Happy Ending also was nominated for Michel LeGrand's classic song, What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life, a question Jean is struggling to answer all the film long.

The Happy Ending is a good and mature film that could only have been made once the sacred Code was abandoned. Too bad though that it could not have resulted in an Oscar for its star.


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