A middle-aged woman walks out on her husband and family in an desperate attempt to find herself.A middle-aged woman walks out on her husband and family in an desperate attempt to find herself.A middle-aged woman walks out on her husband and family in an desperate attempt to find herself.
- Self - Actress in 'Casablanca'as Self - Actress in 'Casablanca'
- (archive footage)
- Self - actor in 'Casablanca'as Self - actor in 'Casablanca'
- (archive footage)
When you consider that lead actress Jean Simmons and director Richard Brooks (married 1960-1977) were on their way to divorce, that just adds to the terror.
Though it echoes themes in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper (1899), The Happy Ending is still seen as a proto-feminist text, which it well may be. I've long held that Jean Simmons (or at least the "Jean Simmons image") is not this quiet, polite, understated "demure beauty" that is somehow constantly breaking out of that particular mold. Ms. Simmons herself can be seen as a "proto-feminist" or strong female lead actress. She demonstrates this in Hamlet, Desiree, Young Bess, The Big Country, and certainly Elmer Gantry; one could actually make this case for many of her films available on video.
Her part in The Happy Ending is really just an expansion of these roles, only this time, the unhappy marriage is brought to the fore instead of subsumed in Hollywood/Happy ending resolve.
It's not just proto-feminist women who feel trapped by marriage; that men get cold feet and then have affairs is almost too cliché to mention or bother to put in quotes. How many movies about extramarital affairs have entertained millions? This film just happens to present the unthinkable horror of when a woman wants out of it. Good for them. 8/10, but be advised, this is coming from someone unable to resist movies about women who don't want to be married.
To this end, see it as a double feature with Baby Doll (1956), or Possession (1981), mess up your mind, a little.
- Nov 29, 2005