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The Happy Ending 1969
Description: The triumphs and failures of middle age as seen through the eyes of runaway American housewife Mary Wilson, a girl who believes that ultimate reality exists above and beyond the routine procedures of conscious, uninspired, daily life. She feels cheated by an older generation that taught her to settle for nothing less than storybook finales, folks who are disillusioned and restless and don't know why, folks for whom life holds no simple answers.
Released: 22 May 1970 Director: Richard Brooks Writers: Richard Brooks Actors: Jean Simmons, John Forsythe, Shirley Jones, Lloyd Bridges Genres: Drama
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The Happy Ending Reviews:

THE HAPPY ENDING might not seem unique today, and may well seem very dated in some ways, but we gotta remember this is the pre-DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE era. I'm sure the movie seemed pioneering in its day, questioning the role of the traditional housewife and demanding that girls are entitled to the same satisfaction and autonomy that boys expected. Writer-director Richard Brooks often dealt with social problems and political themes--that he took on women's problems is no surprise. The movie is especially an acting tour-de-force: Jean Simmons as the unsatisfied woman; John Forsythe as the non-understanding but well-meaning husband; Teresa Wright as Simmons' mother; Dick Shawn and Tina Louise as a miserable couple; Shirley Jones as the girl who survived by having affairs with married men; Lloyd Bridges as a married boy with Jones as his mistress; Bobby Darin as a lost and lonely gigolo looking for that one large score. I was also impressed by the film's structure--with two parallel stories a year apart and different flashbacks all presented in such a method that the features of the relationship's coming apart are given to us a tiny at a time, and we are gradually brought to the mission where we understand WHY the show state has become what it is. It's quite well-paced and creates tension throughout. Also, the unexpected and non-traditional ending is perfect. It's tempting to wonder what these rich folks are whining about when folks in the same community are working two jobs, sixteen hours a day, or starving, or dying of cancer, but Ms. Simmons' performance makes us care about and sympathize with her character. The movie would perhaps also be of value as an educational software for future generations who wish to understand the ending of the pre-feminist era. Those who play the teaming of stars Jean Simmons and Shirley Jones and director Richard Brooks could also check out his perfect movie ver of Sinclair Lewis' ELMER GANTRY. Those who know Shirley Jones only from The Partridge Family might be shocked to see what a fine dramatic actress she is!


Pauline Kael, movie critic for the Fresh Yorker, quipped about this film, "It's the type of liberation film that never liberated anyone." That's a intelligent line, but it isn't exactly true. Writer-director Richard Brooks shows the upwardly android as stiff dullards with drinks in their hands, the upper middle class as stifling bores. There's wry wit in these vignettes, but the problem with Brooks' movie is the central character. As played by Jean Simmons, she's one of those bored and lonely housewives who desires MORE! Simmons is repressed of her emotions, yet even when she makes her escape, she's still a pinchy drag. The helping characters aren't written any better, but the performers themselves are more interesting: Bobby Darin is terrific as a phony gigolo, Tina Louise perfect as an acerbic society wife, Shirley Jones lovely as a single girl trying to remain casual about her married lover. John Forsythe gives his standard controlled performance as Simmons' confused spouse (he doesn't know how to reach her, which is a sympathetic quality since we don't either). The game means to say us that we create our own satisfied endings--that we can't search them through another people--and the final stage between husband and wife is a tricky tiny chess-move that leaves us up in the air. I liked many things in "The Satisfied Ending", but its parts are better than the sum. **1/2 from ****


When I first saw THE HAPPY ENDING, back in 1970, I was blown over by the film's sensitive portrayal of an unhappy housewife trying to decide what to do with her life. I took family and mates to see it and most folks liked the film, finding it unusually frank as a portrayal of a failed marriage. I still search THE HAPPY ENDING very good. It is aesthetically rooted in the late sixties but that does not diminish its essential value. The all-star cast is perfect (Jean Simmons, John Forsythe, Teresa Wright, Nanette Fabray, Shirley Jones, Bobby Darin, Lloyd Bridges, Tina Louise) and Jean Simmons might have shared the Oscar with Maggie Smith that year. Both actresses deserved to obtain acting honors for their respective roles. I love the jazzy melody score by Michel Legrand; Marilyn & Alan Bergman's pretty song-theme for the movie is a perennial favourite of mine as far as romantic songs are concerned. All in all, I will everytime have a unique zone in my heart for THE HAPPY ENDING.



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