Happy Ever After (1954 film)

Last updated

Happy Ever After
Australian film poster
Directed by Mario Zampi
Produced byMario Zampi
Written by Jack Davies
Michael Pertwee
Starring David Niven
Yvonne De Carlo
Barry Fitzgerald
Music by Stanley Black
Cinematography Stanley Pavey
Edited byKathleen Connors
Distributed by Associated British-Pathé (UK)
Allied Artists Pictures (US)
Release date
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£255,863 (UK) [1]

Happy Ever after is a 1954 British independent comedy film directed by Mario Zampi and starring David Niven, Yvonne De Carlo, Barry Fitzgerald and George Cole. In the film, the accidental death of an Irish landowner leads his relative to take over the estate, much to the dissatisfaction of the locals. [2] It was released in the United States under the alternative title Tonight's the Night. [3]



Aged General O'Leary is fatally injured while trying to jump a wall with his horse. On his deathbed, the beloved old Irishman bequeaths £1,000 each to his cousin and fellow landowner Major McGluskey and to Doctor Michael Flynn and cancels all debts owed to him. The rest of the estate goes to a distant relative, Jasper O'Leary, who has never before set foot in the hamlet of Rathbarney.

Jasper very quickly wears out his warm welcome, proving to be an unscrupulous cad who had been saved from marrying a rich but unattractive woman in Capri by his unexpected windfall. He is attracted to Serena McGluskey, a beautiful young widow who has just returned to Rathbarney following the death of her husband. Jasper confides his plan to Serena, "Once I squeeze the lemon dry, I'm off."

Jasper is so unpopular that some of the disgruntled locals gather in Dooley's pub and decide to participate in a secret lottery to see who will be assigned the task of murdering him. Dooley's assistant, Terence, faints when he is chosen. Lacking confidence in his ability, several groups (without each other's knowledge), decide to do the job themselves. However, working at cross purposes and sometimes just by being unlucky, none of them succeed.

Meanwhile, Doctor Flynn is still infatuated with Serena, despite having been jilted by her in the past. He is too blind to see that her sister Kathy is in love with him. Serena's interest in Jasper (and vice versa) eventually cures him. When Serena constantly turns down Jasper's repeated proposals of a dalliance, he asks her to marry him. She agrees.

Finally, on the night when supposedly the ghost of one of Jasper's ancestors walks the halls, all of the various plotters make another try, but once again interfere with each other. Jasper also takes the opportunity to try to burn down the ancestral mansion for the insurance. None succeed. Then, Father Cormac shows up and makes an announcement. General O'Leary had instructed him to open a letter on that day. The letter contains a new will, which is to go into effect if Jasper proved to be unworthy, leaving the estate to Major McGluskey. Jasper offers to depart if the others will hold off on their murderous attempts. To his surprise and delight, Serena asks to go with him.



The film was originally known as O'Leary Night. [4] The filming took place in Braughing in Hertfordshire where the railway station was renamed Rathbarney for the duration of the filming.

De Carlo later said "I think it will help me in comedy when it is released in this country. I have had my share of sirens and am happy to get away from them no matter what the part." [5]


Although the movie is little remembered today, it was a sizeable hit at the British box office, being one of the most successful productions ever made for Associated British Films. [1]

Related Research Articles

David Niven British actor and novelist

James David Graham Niven was an English actor, memoirist and novelist. His many roles included Squadron Leader Peter Carter in A Matter of Life and Death, Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days, and Sir Charles Lytton in The Pink Panther. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Separate Tables (1958). He also played James Bond in Casino Royale (1967).

Barry Fitzgerald

William Joseph Shields, known professionally as Barry Fitzgerald, was an Irish stage, film and television actor. In a career spanning almost forty years, he appeared in such notable films as Bringing Up Baby (1938), The Long Voyage Home (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), Going My Way (1944), None but the Lonely Heart (1944) and The Quiet Man (1952). For Going My Way (1944), he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and was simultaneously nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He was the older brother of Irish actor Arthur Shields. In 2020, he was listed at number 11 on The Irish Times list of Ireland's greatest film actors.

Penelope Fitzgerald British writer

Penelope Mary Fitzgerald was a Booker Prize–winning novelist, poet, essayist and biographer from Lincoln, England. In 2008 The Times listed her among "the 50 greatest British writers since 1945". The Observer in 2012 placed her final novel, The Blue Flower, among "the ten best historical novels".

Alan Hale Sr. American actor

Alan Hale Sr. was an American film actor and director, best remembered for his many character roles, in particular as a frequent sidekick of Errol Flynn, as well as films supporting Lon Chaney, Wallace Beery, Douglas Fairbanks, James Cagney, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, and Ronald Reagan. Hale's career in film lasted 40 years.

Yvonne De Carlo Canadian-American actress, dancer, and singer

Yvonne De Carlo was a Canadian-American actress, dancer, and singer. A brunette with blue-grey eyes, she became an internationally famous Hollywood film star in the 1940s and 1950s, made several recordings, and later acted on television and stage.

Bruce Cabot American actor

Bruce Cabot was an American film actor, best remembered as Jack Driscoll in King Kong (1933) and for his roles in films such as The Last of the Mohicans (1936), Fritz Lang's Fury (1936), and the Western Dodge City (1939). He was also known as one of "Wayne's Regulars", appearing in a number of John Wayne films beginning with Angel and the Badman (1947), and concluding with Big Jake (1971).

Tonight's the Night may refer to:

<i>Black Bart</i> (film)

Black Bart is a 1948 American western film directed by George Sherman and starring Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Duryea as the real-life cowboy bandit Charles Bolles, and Jeffrey Lynn. It was distributed by Universal-International and produced by Leonard Goldstein. It was shot in Technicolor and was also known as Black Bart, Highwayman. The film was written by Luci Ward, Jack Natteford, and William Bowers and was released on March 3, 1948.

Alan Turner (<i>Emmerdale</i>)

Alan Turner is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Richard Thorp. He debuted on-screen on 23 March 1982. Thorp died on 22 May 2013 and his last scenes that Thorp filmed were aired on 4 June 2013 in a special hour-long episode dedicated to him. It was announced on 12 September 2013 that Alan would be killed off-screen in late October with his daughter Steph returning for his funeral. Alan died in his sleep on 24 October 2013.

<i>Against All Flags</i>

Against All Flags is a 1952 American pirate film directed by George Sherman and Douglas Sirk and starring Errol Flynn as Brian Hawke, Maureen O'Hara as Prudence "Spitfire" Stevens and Anthony Quinn as Roc Brasiliano. The film's plot is set in 1700, when British officer Brian Hawke infiltrates a group of pirates located on Libertatia on the coast of Madagascar, and falls in love with pirate captain "Spitfire" Stevens.

<i>The Master of Ballantrae</i> (1953 film) 1953 film by William Keighley

The Master of Ballantrae is a 1953 British Technicolor adventure film starring Errol Flynn and Roger Livesey. It is a loose and highly truncated adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson 1889 novel of the same name. In eighteenth century Scotland, two sons of a laird clash over the family estate and a lady.

<i>Trouble with Sex</i>

Trouble with Sex is a 2005 Irish drama film set in Dublin and co-written by Catriona McGowan and Fintan Connolly. It stars Aidan Gillen and Renée Weldon, who won an Irish Film and Television Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance.

<i>Rat</i> (film) 2000 film by Steve Barron

Rat is a 2000 Irish-British-American comedy film directed by Steve Barron and starring Imelda Staunton and Pete Postlethwaite. The film focuses on the transformation of a working-class man into a rat and how his family copes with the startling change. The film's scenario is partly based on Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis.

<i>Sea Devils</i> (1953 film) 1953 film by Raoul Walsh

Sea Devils is a 1953 British–American historical adventure film, directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Rock Hudson, Yvonne De Carlo, and Maxwell Reed. The story is based on Victor Hugo's novel Toilers of the Sea which was the working title of the film. The scenes at sea were shot around the Channel Islands, and much of the rest of the film was shot on location in those islands as well.

<i>The Fighting OFlynn</i> 1949 film by Arthur Pierson

The Fighting O'Flynn is a 1949 American adventure film directed by Arthur Pierson. The film's screenplay by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. is based on the novel of the same name by Justin Huntly McCarthy. Fairbanks stars, along with Helena Carter.

<i>Silver City</i> (1951 film)

Silver City is a 1951 American Technicolor Western film directed by Byron Haskin and starring Edmond O'Brien, Yvonne De Carlo, and Barry Fitzgerald.

Michael Trubshawe

Michael Trubshawe was a British actor and former officer in the Highland Light Infantry Regiment of the British Army. Trubshawe was very close friends with fellow British actor David Niven, serving with him at Malta and Dover. He was best man for both of Niven's weddings, and is constantly referred to in Niven's memoirs The Moon's a Balloon, although his first name is never given, even in the index; Niven refers to finding out he would be working with him in The Guns of Navarone as 'A lovely bonus for me.'

<i>Scarlet Angel</i>

Scarlet Angel is a 1952 American Technicolor adventure film directed by Sidney Salkow and starring Yvonne de Carlo and Rock Hudson.

<i>The Other Love</i>

The Other Love is a 1947 American film noir drama romance film directed by Andre DeToth and starring Barbara Stanwyck, David Niven, and Richard Conte. Written by Ladislas Fodor and Harry Brown based on the story "Beyond" by Erich Maria Remarque, the film is about a concert pianist who is sent to a sanatorium in Switzerland to treat a serious lung illness.

<i>Glitch</i> (TV series) Australian paranormal drama television series

Glitch is an Australian television programme which premiered on 9 July 2015 on ABC. The series is set in the fictional country town of Yoorana, Victoria, and follows seven people who return from the dead in perfect health but with no memory. No one in the town knows why. The series was created by Tony Ayres and Louise Fox. The first series was awarded Best Television Drama Series at the 2016 AACTA Awards. The series also won Most Outstanding Drama Series at the 2016 Logie Awards.


  1. 1 2 Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p504
  2. "Happy Ever After". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 14 January 2009.
  3. "Movies on TV Screen". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 1 June 1963.
  4. Hopper, Hedda (4 August 1953). "'O'Leary Night' Will Star Yvonne De Carlo". Los Angeles Times. p. B6.
  5. Schallert, Edwin (2 May 1954). "Yvonne's Persistence Making Believers of Her Critics". Los Angeles Times. p. E1.