6.7/10
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15 user 3 critic

Happy Land (1943)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, War | 10 November 1943 (USA)
In a typical American Midwestern city, Hartfield, Iowa, Lew Marsh (Don Ameche) is the owner of a drugstore. Everyone knows Lew and knew his grandfather, old "Gramp" Marsh (Harry Carey), who... See full summary »

Director:

Irving Pichel

Writers:

Kathryn Scola (screenplay), Julien Josephson (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Don Ameche ... Lew Marsh
Frances Dee ... Agnes Marsh
Harry Carey ... Gramp
Ann Rutherford ... Lenore Prentiss
Cara Williams ... Gretchen Barry
Richard Crane ... Russell 'Rusty' Marsh
Harry Morgan ... Anton 'Tony' Cavrek (as Henry Morgan)
Minor Watson ... Judge Colvin
Dickie Moore ... Peter Orcutt
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
June Preston June Preston ... Mrs. Prentiss daughter
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Storyline

In a typical American Midwestern city, Hartfield, Iowa, Lew Marsh (Don Ameche) is the owner of a drugstore. Everyone knows Lew and knew his grandfather, old "Gramp" Marsh (Harry Carey), who had passed on. One evening, Lew and his wife, Agnes (Frances Dee), reminisce lovingly about their son, "Rusty" (Richard Crane), when a telegram arrives from the Navy Department informing them that "Rusty" had been killed in action. Lew becomes bitter, avoids people, refuses to go near the family drugstore. "Gramp" appears before Lew and takes him in hand and together, they revisit the past: Lew's childhood; "Gramp" as a Civil War veteran; Lew's courtship of Agnes; the birth of "Rusty"; Lew as a WWI soldier; Rusty's boyhood days and into his attempt to decide between Lenore Prentiss and Gretchen Barry, and how Lenore becomes his girl just before he joins the Navy. This excursion into the past takes away Lew's bitterness and he now sees what America means. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 November 1943 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Happy Land See more »

Filming Locations:

Healdsburg, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Many of the adult actors lived well beyond normal life expectancy for those of their generation. Of the main characters, Frances Dee and Ann Rutherford lived the longest, both passing away at age 94. Dee passed away in 2004 and Rutherford in 2012, while Don Ameche passed away at age 85 in 1993. Richard Crane was not as long lived, passing away at age 50 in 1969. In a parallel to the film, both screen parents outlived the actor that played their son.

Of the other main credited adult supporting actors, Cara Williams born in 1925 is still alive at age 91 as of 2017, Adeline De Walt Reynolds lived to age 98, passing away in 1961, and Harry Morgan, lived to age 96, passing away in 2011. See more »

Goofs

Right before Rusty's shipmate, Tony, arrives at Mr. Marsh's Pharmacy, it is near closing time, and dark outside. When Mr. Marsh takes Tony home to meet Mrs. Marsh, she says she was just getting ready to fix lunch, although it is night time. See more »

Quotes

Gramp: You know, Lew, that's one thing God intended in America forever - kids have got to play Indian. Bows and arrows, war clubs, Daniel Boone, Sittin' Bull... nobody must be allowed to make them stop.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Book Revue (1946) See more »

Soundtracks

How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree?)
(uncredited)
Music by Walter Donaldson
Played during the military parade
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Melancholy and Grief In Wartime Iowa
3 June 2009 | by alonzoiii-1See all my reviews

Don Ameche's son is killed in WW II. Can grandpa Harry Carey, returning from the dead, convince a grieving Ameche that his life, his son's life, and this whole war is worth his son's sacrifice, and get Ameche to believe his small town is indeed HAPPY LAND?

Despite a wonderful opening sequence, reminiscent of the homespun melancholy of the better parts of Our Town and Since You Went Away, this is a rather superficial and bland treatment of the grief of a good, if temporarily embittered man, whose son has died in the war. Ameche, a decent enough actor, does not have skill to bring off his role, and Harry Carey, with his mono-tonal voice, and facial expressions running the gamut of emotions from A to B, makes conversations about life and death as enchanting as a conversation about whether to pick up milk at the store. The result might be truly Midwestern in its emotions, but it's questionable whether that's a good thing.

Much of the movie is flashbacks to the life of Ameche's child (though, interestingly, we do not see the kid actually fighting in the war). There's nothing especially interesting in the flashbacks, nor, really, is there much there that would provide comfort to Ameche. A final scene, where Ameche learns from a young Harry Morgan how his son died heroically, works somewhat better, simply because Morgan's flat Midwestern delivery and Ameche's flat Midwestern delivery grounds what has been rather leaden supernatural stuff in a bit of reality. Whether Ameche, under these circumstances, would find the will to go on again after all this, is questionable.

A comparison between this film and It's A Wonderful Life is inevitable, as they deal with the same basic situation. This film, far more low key and far less extreme than the Stuart/Capra collaboration, might be more appealing to folks who prefer their fantastic/supernatural cinema to be realistic. But to this viewer, the far more dramatic events and emotional acting of Stuart makes his movie more fun to watch and, oddly enough, more believable.

Assessment -- Don't avoid this movie. You might like it. Alas, I did not.


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