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William A. Seiter
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The Bride's Fair in a small Norwegian village is interrupted by the forced landing of Jimmy Hall and Duke Sargent, two Americans lost - really, really lost - while flying from New York to Paris. Jimmy is the manager of Duke, a publicity-seeking band leader. An old superstition points to Duke as the appointed husband-to-be (not likely) of Trudy Ericksen, daughter of villager Herr Ericksen. Duke, however, has an understanding with Flo Kelly back in the states, and leaves for Paris. Trudy follows him to New York, only to find he has left for Florida with Flo. Jimmy takes Trudy skating in Central Park, falls in love with her and is so impressed that he gets her a contract to skate professionally. Duke hears of her success and flies back and begins a series of romantic entanglements.Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Doesn't land entirely happily, but doesn't land with a thud either
Even in her lesser films ('It's a Pleasure', 'Katina', 'Everything Happens at Night' and 'One in a Million'), Sonja Henie was always watchable and there was a good deal to like about her weaker outings. The bright spots were often her, the ice skating sequences and the music, while the weak link was often typically the story.
Along with 'Sun Valley Serenade', 'My Lucky Star', 'Second Fiddle' and 'Lovely to Look At', 'Happy Landing' generally is one of her better films. While it has been well established by now that one doesn't see a Sonja Henie film for the story, it will be quickly pointed out that it's particularly weak here, very daft, sometimes over-complicated and in some stretches with little to it.
Despite wonderful singing by Ethel Merman and Leah Ray, the songs are of the pleasant kind but also the sort that won't stick in the head very long or make one want to listen to it over and over. "Hot and Happy" and "A Gypsy Told Me" fare best, while "You Appeal to Me" is clever once and if you get the references (that are very of their time here) and "Yonny and his Oompah" is too much of an acquired taste novelty act. If you dislike El Brendel (indifferent personally), you'll struggle to sit through it most likely though Henie's skating dazzles. Don Ameche is charming and amiable if perhaps a bit too subdued, while Jean Hersholt is wasted in a thankless role.
So much can be recommended however. 'Happy Ending' is exquisitely photographed and sumptuously designed. The skating sequences are brilliantly choreographed and danced with so much energy and grace, while one may feel like Merman's talents are not fully lived up to Henie's talents are used to the hilt. The film is wittily scripted and is always easy to watch with energetic pacing and bags of charm.
Henie is pert, spunky and charming, and the camera clearly loves her. Her ice skating is also out of this world. Cesar Romero is both dashing and zany, offering more enthusiasm than Ameche does, while Merman thrills with her big brassy voice even if worthier of better songs. Billy Gilbert is also a scene stealer, and Roy DelRuth directs more than competently.
On the whole, entertaining film that doesn't have the happiest of landings but in no way can a thud be heard. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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