You Gotta Stay Happy (1948) Poster

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complete fluff--but given Jimmy Stewart's in it, that ain't so bad
MartinHafer17 February 2006
This movie is certainly not a deep or memorable movie. In fact, I just saw it again for the second time and I had forgotten so much of it--even though I saw if for the first time only a couple years ago.

Jimmy Stewart is the owner of a very tiny freight airline. During a stopover, he is accidentally united with Joan Fontaine who is running from a brand new marriage she hasn't yet consummated to a man she didn't love. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that sooner or later, Stewart and Fontaine will be a couple, though the rest of the movie consists of a series of wacky adventures until the ultimate conclusion.

So why give the movie only an 8? Well, first, Fontaine's character is rather annoying and highly reminiscent of Julie Roberts' character in RUNAWAY BRIDE. Someone that ditsy and self-centered, for me, is a little hard to really care about and you aren't really pulling for the leading man to take this shallow woman. Secondly, and more importantly, the movie has way too many contrived and "wacky" subplots--a guy running off with his company's funds, the chimpanzee who loved Fontaine and smokes cigars, the Southern-fried humor supplied by the young couple from Georgia, etc. It just seemed REALLY, REALLY contrived. Plus, the dialog itself was rather forced.

So, overall it's just an adequate film--best enjoyed by old movie and Jimmy Stewart buffs.
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Enjoyable comedy, not the best work from either of it's stars
bkoganbing3 July 2005
You Gotta Stay Happy was produced by William Dozier who at the time was married to Joan Fontaine. I think Fontaine was trying to lighten her image a bit and decided to try this throwback comedy involving a missing runaway heiress. Very familiar territory from the Thirties, postwar audiences wanted a little more realism.

Anyway she was able to land James Stewart as her leading man and he even accepted second billing here. Well, in affect she was the boss on this set. And they got a good cast of familiar faces from past screwball comedies to help this along.

Watching this, I couldn't help thinking that Joan Fontaine was going into territory Jean Arthur knew by heart. If Arthur was the heiress, this thing might have been a classic. This picture would have been so right for Jean Arthur.

I particularly enjoyed Percy Kilbride playing Pa Kettle under a different name. He's a farmer with a tribe of kids in Oklahoma where pilot James Stewart and his animal, human, and vegetable cargo have landed. Eddie Albert as Stewart's co-pilot and sidekick is also just fine.

It's an enjoyable comedy, but it will never be in the first rank of films of either Fontaine or Stewart.
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Delightful Screwball Comedy
claudio_carvalho26 November 2013
In New York, the spoiled Diana "Dee Dee" Dillwood (Joan Fontaine) is an indecisive millionaire that has broken with her various fiancées. Her uncle and her psychiatrist convince Diana to get married with Henry Benson (Willard Parker) and they go to a fancy hotel. Meanwhile the pilot Marvin "Marv" Payne (James Stewart), who owns an air flight company with two old airplanes with his friend Bullets Baker (Eddie Albert), lodges in the wedding suite on the next door of Dee Dee and Henry expecting to rest to fly to California on the next morning. Dee Dee flees from the wedding night and hides in Marv's room. She uses a strong sleeping pill and on the next morning, she does not wake up. Marv and Bullets take her to the airport and she convinces them to take her to California with them and a chimpanzee; a soppy couple that has just married; an embezzler with a wallet full of money; a coffin with a body; and frozen seafood. After a storm, passenger and crew are stranded in a farm of a hospitable family where Dee Dee learns that the she will find her true love when she kisses the right man.

"You Gotta Stay Happy" is a delightful screwball comedy with James Stewart and Jean Fontaine that show wonderful chemistry. I saw this movie yesterday and I laughed a lot with the funny situations, especially when the poor Marv wants to sleep and is interrupted many times. It is amazing how Hollywood does not present a tribute to Jean Fontaine (96), to her sister Olivia de Havilland (97), to Maureen O'Hara (90) and to Lauren Bacall (89) and any other actor or actress from the Golden Age still alive in the Oscar ceremony. Ms. Lauren Bacall is still filming but it would be heartwarming to see Ms. Jean Fontaine, Ms. Olivia de Havilland and Ms. Maureen O'Hara reunited again, after all those years. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): Not Available
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A woman's place is in a man's boots.
mark.waltz4 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
There are going to be a lot of modern audiences who find Jimmy Stewart's pilot character to be the epitome of a male chauvinist. He balks at the thought of working for a woman, let alone being married to his boss. That's the story here of when he encounters the wealthiest orphan in the world (Joan Fontaine, whose character claims to be 26, is actually 28, as played by an actress who was really 31), having just married the most boring man in the world. She's changed her mind, the groom slugs Stewart, and after the briefest of all attempts at a honeymoon, Fontaine runs into Stewart's hotel room and refuses to leave. Of course, after taking three sleeping pills, it is going to take more than dynamite to get her out of bed, but if Stewart and his co-pilot pal Eddie Albert have their way about it, they will.

Joan Fontaine, in one of her few comic roles, is extremely funny as she slips and slides out of a chair and Stewart's arms while under the influence of these pills. Stewart and Albert agree to take her as far as Chicago, but along the way, they pick up a newlywed couple as well as a clerk who is wanted for embezzlement. It's "It Happened One Night" in the sky where a corpse, a chimpanzee and a bunch of fish ready for filleting are accompanying this mixed group of passengers. Then, when the plane hits bad weather, it's down it goes, right into the front yard of hick Percy Kilbride, his non-Marjorie Main wife (Edith Evanson), and their brood of 10 kids (and they've just started!). You know the minute a record player in the bridal suite begins to play "Hold That Tiger!" (which Kilbride always seemed to discover playing on his radio whenever he turned it on in the "Ma and Pat Kettle" series), you're in Universal territory, especially when Pa Kettle's Indian friends are the ones who show up to pull the plane out of the mud. The fact that this came out as the same year of "The Egg and I" proves this point, an ironic fact of free publicity in movie history.

There's lots of funny moments here, especially the shot of the cigar- smoking chimp, embezzler Porter Hall getting all misty-eyed at the presence of a baby in his arms, and the battle of the sexes between Stewart and Fontaine. Marcy McGuire, the pop-eyed ingénue of a series of RKO musicals of the war years (and got the first screen kiss from Frank Sinatra), plays the new bride who sneaks a ride aboard the plane, while Vera Marshe is Hall's floozy secretary who runs off with him and the stolen money. This is a late screwball entry in the Post World War II era where comedies were more topical yet not always entertaining. You will be consistently entertained here.
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An amusing screwball comedy
slymusic29 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
By the time "You Gotta Stay Happy" rolled around, the motion picture career of James Stewart (my personal favorite actor) was in a slump, and this picture did nothing to alter that. Adding to the difficulty was the fact that screwball comedy had been a trend a decade earlier in the late 1930s. What's more, Joan Fontaine, who admittedly did not want to do the picture at all, was ill throughout the filming and discovered she was pregnant. She fondly remembered how Stewart was the only one who visited her at the hospital.

Be that as it may, "You Gotta Stay Happy" is nevertheless an entertaining film, and here are the highlights (watch the film first before you read on). Twice in this picture, pilot Marvin Payne (Stewart) has a run-in with attorney Henry Benson (Willard Parker); the camera does not focus on Henry, but a punch is heard, and the camera shifts to Marvin lying flat on his back. The cigar-smoking chimpanzee named Joe (quite a bizarre spectacle on film) puts on a show while Marvin and his happy-go-lucky copilot Bullets Baker (a perfect role for Eddie Albert) make preparations to get their freight plane out of the mud. The night of the wedding, Henry and Diana "Dee Dee" Dilwood (Fontaine) come into conflict in their hotel room, and their loud bickering and clumsy chasing disturb Marvin, who is trying to sleep next door; Dee Dee escapes and flees into Marvin's room, where she develops amorous feelings for him, but the next morning things get complicated for Marvin when both Bullets and hotel manager Dick Hebert (William Bakewell) enter the room to find Dee Dee doped up by a strong sleeping pill. There is perhaps a slight touch of suspense as Marvin and Bullets make their emergency landing on the farm belonging to Mr. Racknell (Percy Kilbride); he is kind enough to let the stranded crew of six spend the night at his farmhouse with his expansive family. While they do, Bullets joins in a lively dance with a few others and Dee Dee is especially thrilled at the sight of the eight or ten little children lining up to kiss their mother (Edith Evanson) good night.

"You Gotta Stay Happy" failed to turn in a profit for the box office and did not give James Stewart the career boost he needed. But it is still a pleasant little comedy, and Stewart need not have worried much longer, for his next picture, "The Stratton Story" (1949), became a big hit and a precursor for the most successful decade of Stewart's career: the 1950s.
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Arcturus198025 October 2018
Real-life airman James Stewart is enjoyed here in the first of his pilot roles. Eddie Albert, who would somehow not enjoy outdoing himself five years later in Roman Holiday, is well cast. Joan Fontaine lifted my already high opinion of her by delightfully playing an heiress whose charm and beauty are only matched by her extraordinary wealth.

You Gotta Stay Happy is one of Stewart's more rarely seen pictures despite my high rating. Fans of the aforementioned actors should consider it recommended.
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Decent little comedy
hmpulham31 May 2003
Well, this wasn't "It Happened One Night" but, the plot line was similar. Rich girl (Joan Fontaine) secretly hops aboard a transport plane to escape a loveless marriage. Jimmy Stewart, the pilot, finds her and is annoyed to have a pretty girl hiding on board. In Hollywood guys always get mad finding a pretty stowaway, yeah, right. Anyhow, after a plane crash and lots of hanging around, nature takes over ... and you know... Actually, I enjoyed it. A little escapist comedy, that managed to entertain. Eddie Albert is good too, as Stewart's side-kick. I'd rank it a respectable 6 1/2. Also, Fontaine is as always, very feminine.
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A comedy that isn't funny.
Patrick-9624 October 2000
This is probably James Stewart's worst film. His co-star is Joan Fontaine, who never was adept at doing light comedy, she and Stewart have no chemistry together whatsoever. They get no help by the pale script and the pacing of the film is very slow. A dud.
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post-war screwball comedy
mysterymoviegoer1 January 2004
Though screwball comedies like Bringing Up Baby and It Happened One Night had run their cycle by World Way II, Universal was persuaded to try it again with this frothy story about runaway heiress Fontaine escaping her stuffy groom for the charms of pilot Jimmy Stewart who is running a shoestring flying service. Stewart's finesse with this genre shows as does Eddie Albert's as yet another snappy best friend. Fontaine is more sweet than brittle with a comedic line, but thanks to a great supporting cast like Porter Hall, Roland Young, Percy Kilbride, and a cigar-smoking chimp,You Gotta works pretty well. The frantic pace relaxes more than it should when the cast gets airborne, but this is a very entertaining film of its kind with more than a few laughs.
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It may not soar, but it stays aloft
philosophymom5 August 2008
Though "You Gotta Stay Happy" came after the heyday of screwball comedies, it follows the recipe well enough: take one zany heiress, mix up with earnest hero, add wise-cracking best friend, toss in some comic stereotypes for support, add a dash of innocent deception to get the plot rolling, then a pinch of mistaken identity (or something like it) to keep things stirred up, and top off with some chaste romance. Bake (or half-bake) for a little over an hour and a half, garnish with a cigar-smoking chimpanzee, and... voilà! Enjoyable light entertainment. You may be hungry an hour later, but it's fun while it lasts.

Jimmy Stewart's Marvin Payne is a variation on the actor's patented good-guy persona: a decent if sometimes cranky pilot, he's trying to keep his ramshackle airline *and* his carefully crafted life-plan running smoothly. Joan Fontaine, proving surprisingly proficient at comedy, plays indecisive rich girl Dee-Dee Dillwood, whose antics seem calculated to throw Marvin off schedule in both arenas. And Eddie Albert, as "Bullets" Baker, shines in an early and excellent incarnation of what would become his trademark 1950s character-- the lovable sidekick.

It's hard to outline the plot without giving it all away-- partly because all the pieces are intertwined, and partly because there aren't all that many pieces-- but I'll try. Fontaine's running from the altar, and Stewart, not fully aware of her circumstances, is somehow persuaded to let her aboard his cargo plane. Meanwhile, co-pilot Albert has enterprisingly sold seats to a few other unauthorized personnel. Will our intrepid fly-boys manage to steer their two-engine plane through stormy weather to complete all deliveries and stave off bankruptcy, or will they be too distracted by the fact that the police seem to be looking for one of their illicit passengers? And how about Stewart's heart, which seems to be flip-flopping for Fontaine a full six years ahead of schedule (he's penciled in "love" for 1954)? Will he be relieved or upset, if and when he learns her full story? It'd be too much to say that "the plane lifts off and hilarity ensues," but I was both amused by the proceedings and invested enough in the leads to care whether they got their happy ending. A warning: some of the aforementioned comic stereotypes-- naive Native Americans, women content to stay in their place-- haven't aged as well as others, so put on your 1940s hat before popping in the DVD.
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I liked the movie.
kbkrdh114 June 2002
I think this movie is charming. It is part farce and part whimsy. It is not a great comedy, and I don't think it was ever intended to be. It has a few stereotypical characters, but that can be fun. I have seen the movie several times. It is pure escapism.
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