Wednesday, December 13

The Happiest Millionaire

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The first big live-action movie musical for Disney Studios was a film called “The Happiest Millionaire”. It centers on a well to do family who is about as eccentric as a family can be.  There are two sons who get a bit of coverage early on, but then are sent off to school and never seen again.  Considering that Paul Peterson played one of the youths, that always surprised me.

The key early on is that the daughter, against Dad’s wishes really, goes off to private school and meets the man of her dreams. He’s from a very wealthy, sophisticated family, so the two about-to-be-related families clash, and that is where the drama and humor both come from for the bulk of the movie.

Fred MacMurray and Greer Garson led a wonderful cast in this delightful movie. John Davidson and Lesley Ann Warren were the newcomers, and Britain’s fantastic Tommy Steele was wonderful. I can still envision him singing a lively tune called “Fortuosity” — that’s his by-word. Wonderful stuff!

This movie is marvelous. I don’t have enough descriptors to relate just how much I love it. I watch it frequently, and I still know the words, from MacMurray’s tender renderings as he sings to Warren, who plays his daughter, to the many upbeat, lively tunes that help to enhance the story.  It’s a drama, a romance, a musical, and a comedy, all rolled into one magnificent package.

As an adult, I was amused to discover this is actually a true story, the film based on the book by the real daughter of MacMurray’s character. I’ve never read it, but I’ve always thought it might be interesting to. If nothing else, the family portrayed lived a colorful existence.

This is an all-time favorite and gets my highest recommendation.

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