Happiness (1924 film)

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Happiness
Happiness (1924) lobby card.jpg
Lobby card
Directed by King Vidor
Screenplay by J. Hartley Manners
Based onHappiness
by J. Hartley Manners
Starring Laurette Taylor
Cinematography Chester A. Lyons
Production
company
Distributed byMetro Pictures
Release date
  • March 10, 1924 (1924-03-10)
Running time
76 minutes ; 8 reels
CountryUnited States
Language Silent (English intertitles)

Happiness is a 1924 American silent comedy film directed by King Vidor and starring stage actress Laurette Taylor in one of her rare film appearances. The film is based on the 1914 Broadway play of the same name written by Taylor's husband J. Hartley Manners. [1] [2]

Contents

Plot

As described in a film magazine review, [3] Jenny Wray, the sole support of her mother, obtains work in a modiste's shop. She is called on to deliver several gowns to Mrs. Chrystal Pole. Mrs. Pole, who is bored with life, becomes interested in Jenny's philosophy of happiness, and induces her to make her home at the Pole mansion. However, Jenny soon tires of it and returns to Brooklyn. She continues to cultivate the friendship of Mrs. Pole, who aids her in her efforts to have her own modiste's shop. Fermoy MacDonough, an electrician, falls in love with Jenny and they marry. In several years Jenny has a shop of her own and continues to spread happiness.

Cast

Production

Happiness marked the second and final cinematic collaboration between Vidor and well-known stage actress Laurette Taylor. Based on the one-act play of the same name by Taylor's husband J. Hartley Manners the film adaption was a box office success, due in part to Vidor's personal interest in the theme and Taylor's, restrained performance [4]

Taylor would make one more movie with M-G-M studios in 1924, One Night in Rome , directed by Clarence Badger. [5]

Theme

Manners' vehicle for Laurette Taylor is largely a facsimile of his 1912 play Peg o' My Heart, with the setting moved from rural British Isles to the urban New York City.

The film version introduces a new facet to Manners' "creaky" scenario. Vidor's identification with the Populist movement and its pro-agrarian and pro-nativist ideals is enlarged in Happiness to include a broader spectrum of the working class, including poor and urban immigrants. The entrepreneurial Jenny (Taylor) struggles in this Brooklyn lower-class milieu to ultimately achieve social and financial security. Vidor makes explicit his political philosophy when the now successful Jenny encounters her early alter-ego, a poor, but ambitious girl (also named Jenny) on the streets of Brooklyn, with the inter-title "And the endless chain of Jennys goes on in all big cities..." [6]

Preservation

Prints of Happiness are preserved at George Eastman House and Gosfilmofond (Russian State archives) Moscow. [7]

Footnotes

  1. "Progressive Silent Film List: Happiness". silentera.com. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  2. League, The Broadway. "Happiness – Broadway Show – Play - IBDB". ibdb.com. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  3. Morgan, Len (March 8, 1924). "Box Office Reviews: Happiness". Exhibitors Trade Review. New York: Exhibitors Review Publishing Corporation: 26. Retrieved September 22, 2022.PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain .
  4. Baxter 1976, p. 17: "[in] Happiness [Taylor] adapted more comfortably to screen acting [than she had done in Peg o' My Heart in 1922]. Her [stage] mannerisms are subdued...Vidor's obvious sympathy for the film's message encouraged a personal approach."
    Durgnat and Simmon 1988 p. 341: The play was first staged in the US in 1914.
  5. Baxter 1976, p. 17
  6. Durgnat and Simmon 1988 : See section "The Rudiments of Vidor's Political Philosophy" p. 26-27 and p. 37: "Vidor's political populism, so tied to the support of the country world [grew] in to film populism, with its support of underdogs...everywhere [including] urban [pro-]labor proposals." (italics in original). See p. 37 for the "Jennys" encounter.
  7. "American Silent Feature Film Survival Database: Happiness" . Retrieved November 10, 2017.

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