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Happy Days (1929) DVD

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Product Description

Happy Days (1929)

Director:

Benjamin Stoloff

Writers:

Sidney Lanfield (story), Edwin J. Burke (dialogue)

Stars:

Charles E. Evans, Marjorie White, Richard Keene, Stuart Erwin, Martha Lee Sparks, Clifford Dempsey, James J Corbett, George MacFarlane, Charles Farrell, Victor McLaglen, El Brendel, George Jessel, Dixie Lee, Sharon Lynn, Will Rogers, Edmund Lowe, Tom Patricola, Walter Catlett, Ann Pennington, Warner Baxter
 
Filmed in "Fox Grandeur," an early widescreen process, Happy Days was the immediate follow-up to Fox Studios' Movietone Follies of 1929. Most of the film takes place on the showboat of Mississippi entrepreneur Colonel Billy Batcher (Charles E. Evans). When the Colonel faces foreclosure after several failing seasons, soubrette Margie (Marjorie White) stages a fund-raising revue on the boat, enlisting the aid of all the big stars who got their start with Batcher. By an amazing coincidence, virtually all of the showboat alumni are under contract to Fox Studios! Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell perform "We'll Build a Little World of Our Own," Victor McLaglen and Edmund Lowe kid their roughneck screen images in the novelty number "Vic and Eddie," Sharon Lynn and Ann Pennington offer the "hot" dance routine "Snake Hips," and "Whispering" Jack Smith offers a rendition of the title tune. Also on hand are Will Rogers, El Brendel, Walter Catlett (who also staged the musical numbers), Lew Brice (Fanny's brother), Dixie Lee (Mrs. Bing Crosby) and Georgie Jessel -- not to mention an uncredited 14-year-old chorus girl named Betty Grable.

 

Songs include:

We'll Build a Little World of Our Own
Music by James F. Hanley
Lyrics by James Brockman
Performed by Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell

Happy Days
Music by James F. Hanley
Lyrics by Joseph McCarthy
Performed by 'Whispering' Jack Smith

A Toast to the Girl I Love
Music by James F. Hanley
Lyrics by James Brockman

Dream on a Piece of Wedding Cake
Music by James F. Hanley
Lyrics by James Brockman

I'm on a Diet of Love
Music by Abel Baer
Lyrics by L. Wolfe Gilbert
Performed by Marjorie White

Minstrel Memories
Music by Abel Baer
Lyrics by L. Wolfe Gilbert
Performed by George MacFarlane

Mona
Written by Con Conrad, Sidney D. Mitchell and Archie Gottler
Performed by Frank Richardson

Snake Hips
Written by Con Conrad, Sidney D. Mitchell and Archie Gottler
Performed by Sharon Lynn and Ann Pennington

Crazy Feet
Written by Con Conrad, Sidney D. Mitchell and Archie Gottler

Vic and Eddie
Written by Harry Stoddard and Marcy Klauber
Performed by Victor McLaglen and Edmund Lowe

La Golondrina
Music by Narcisco Serradell

William Tell Overture
Music by Gioachino Rossini

Zampa Overture
Music by Louis Joseph Hérold

Minuet in G major, WoO 10, No. 2
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
Danced by El Brendel

After a preview on September 17, 1929, Happy Days premiered at the Roxy Theater in New York City on February 13, 1930 with a Niagara Falls widescreen short on a Grandeur screen of 42x20 ft, compared to the standard 24x18 ft screen. It was also shown in Grandeur at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles, from February 28, 1930.  At a screening at the Roxy Theater, film critic Mordaunt Hall praised the cinematography, which was noted to be enhanced by the wider format. However, he regarded the film itself as "... not one that gives as full a conception of the possibilities as future films of this type will probably do." Due to the Great Depression few movie theaters invested in widescreen equipment and the format was abandoned until 23 years later. Fox Film Corporation's heavy investment in Grandeur technology led to William Fox losing his business, which was eventually merged in 1935 with Twentieth Century Pictures to form 20th Century Fox. No widescreen print of Happy Days is known to survive.

Lots of energy here and Marjorie White (in her film debut) probably comes off best. She died in a car wreck in 1935. At only 4' 10" White was a dynamo of musical and comedy talent and had good supporting roles on Fox's JUST IMAGINE and SUNNYSIDE UP.  "Snake Hips" is fantastic - Sharon Lynn sings it,(she sang the "Turn on the Heat" number in "Sunny Side Up") there is some great, innovative overhead photography and beautiful Ann Pennington dances up a storm. Although in her 30s, she still had "IT" in spades. Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell build a doll house to "We'll Build a Little World of Our Own". Janet's voice seemed to have improved since "Sunny Side Up" and she talked/sang the words which I found quite effective. Charles Farrell's voice was still the same - unfortunately and the song ended with Farrell and Gaynor, dressed as babies, fighting over a bottle. No wonder Janet was fed up with the movies she was being offered.  "Crazy Feet" made the whole movie worthwhile. Adorable Dixie Lee burst out of a modernistic background, which featured chorus girls, in silhouette, in letters featuring the name of the song - at one point girls came down from the ceiling, suspended on swings, showing their "crazy feet". Dixie Lee was married to Bing Crosby and her guidance really helped him on the road to success. She has a wonderful "jazz oriented" voice and she even does a chorus of scat!!! Chorus girls pile out of giant shoes, Tom Patricola does an eccentric dance, Frank Richardson leads a chorus of clowns - did I mention the beautiful chorus girls!!! Marjorie White and Richard Keene sing and dance a cute novelty number "I'm on a Diet of Love" and soon end up duking it out on stage - "Whispering" Jack Smith, who, as a singer, had huge popularity in the twenties, comes on stage to patch things up and lead the finale in "Happy Days", sung in that whispering voice that was his trademark.

Region 0 (ALL), will play in all DVD players, English, 80 minutes, Black and White, Fox Film Corporation, good print.

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Product Reviews

  1. Utter Delight, Even if Some of This is Kinda Weird in Light of Today's Morés 5 Star Review

    Posted by on Nov 9th 2019

    This has become, so far I think, my favourite early sound movie musical revue. The aura of the 1920s still is much in evidence, even earlier music show values, and it is about as animated and full of hot dance music as anything from further along, into the 1930s.

    The initial part of the film is what I would call the most lavish minstrel show imaginable. At least, I never have seen blackface minstrelsy on such a huge scale. That accounts for much of the "weirdness" noted in this review's header. The dancing there is wonderfully inventive and frenetic and that matter only intensifies as minstrelsy gives way to more usual vaudville, music hall antics, including (in the gloriously uninhibited "Crazy Feet" segment) some shimmying and hip-shaking that is truly spectacular.

    The narrative link includes a young couple who quarrel with vigourously amusing intensity as they work out their relationship, often on the floor wrestling with each other, utterly lovable as well as funny!

    The music is so full of pep and high spirits that I feel like starting up the film all over again as soon as I have finished watching it. In fact, I have done just that among my three viewings of this cinematic delight.

    This is early sound film, so the quality is variable, but nothing at all to inhibit the pleasure of what one sees on the screen or in the sound. A delight!



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