11 user 6 critic

You Gotta Stay Happy (1948)

A spoiled heiress who has jilted multiple fiancés embroils a commercial pilot in a series of wacky misadventures.


H.C. Potter


Karl Tunberg (written for the screen by), Robert Carson (story)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Joan Fontaine ... Dee Dee Dillwood
James Stewart ... Marvin Payne
Eddie Albert ... Bullets Baker
Roland Young ... Ralph Tutwiler
Willard Parker ... Henry Benson
Percy Kilbride ... Mr. Racknell
Porter Hall ... Mr. Caslon
Marcy McGuire ... Georgia Goodrich
Arthur Walsh Arthur Walsh ... Milton Goodrich
William Bakewell ... Dick Hebert
Paul Cavanagh ... Dr. Blucher
Halliwell Hobbes ... Martin
Fritz Feld ... Pierre
Stanley Prager ... Jack Samuels
Frank Jenks ... Carnival Man


Indecisive heiress Dee Dee Dillwood is pushed into marrying her sixth fiancée, but unable to face the wedding night, she flees into the adjacent hotel room of commercial pilot Marvin Payne, who just wants to sleep. Somehow, she persuades him to take her to California. Her fellow passengers include a chimpanzee, a corpse (in a coffin), an absconding embezzler, and two smoochy newlyweds. Can love be far behind? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The screen has never been happier. See more »


Comedy | Romance


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Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

28 October 1948 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Conquista da Felicidade See more »


Box Office


$1,673,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


A location shooting accident occurred at Newark Metropolitan Airport on Friday 30 April 1948 when a freak wind gust toppled a 15-foot steel tube scaffold with two electricians atop, which fell into a group of 10 actors, production workers and spectators. The injured included stand-ins for James Stewart and Eddie Albert. Three of the injured were detained at St. James Hospital. A Jeep in which Stewart had been riding was damaged. Stewart and Albert, on set, were not hurt. (Via Associated Press report.) See more »


Dr. Blucher: It's perfect natural for a girl to have doubts before getting married. In your case, certainly it isn't surprising; after all, you've been engaged six times.
Ralph Tutwiler: [interrupting] Officially; if you want the unofficial total, you'll need an adding machine.
See more »

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User Reviews

It may not soar, but it stays aloft
5 August 2008 | by philosophymomSee all my reviews

Though "You Gotta Stay Happy" came after the heyday of screwball comedies, it follows the recipe well enough: take one zany heiress, mix up with earnest hero, add wise-cracking best friend, toss in some comic stereotypes for support, add a dash of innocent deception to get the plot rolling, then a pinch of mistaken identity (or something like it) to keep things stirred up, and top off with some chaste romance. Bake (or half-bake) for a little over an hour and a half, garnish with a cigar-smoking chimpanzee, and... voilà! Enjoyable light entertainment. You may be hungry an hour later, but it's fun while it lasts.

Jimmy Stewart's Marvin Payne is a variation on the actor's patented good-guy persona: a decent if sometimes cranky pilot, he's trying to keep his ramshackle airline *and* his carefully crafted life-plan running smoothly. Joan Fontaine, proving surprisingly proficient at comedy, plays indecisive rich girl Dee-Dee Dillwood, whose antics seem calculated to throw Marvin off schedule in both arenas. And Eddie Albert, as "Bullets" Baker, shines in an early and excellent incarnation of what would become his trademark 1950s character-- the lovable sidekick.

It's hard to outline the plot without giving it all away-- partly because all the pieces are intertwined, and partly because there aren't all that many pieces-- but I'll try. Fontaine's running from the altar, and Stewart, not fully aware of her circumstances, is somehow persuaded to let her aboard his cargo plane. Meanwhile, co-pilot Albert has enterprisingly sold seats to a few other unauthorized personnel. Will our intrepid fly-boys manage to steer their two-engine plane through stormy weather to complete all deliveries and stave off bankruptcy, or will they be too distracted by the fact that the police seem to be looking for one of their illicit passengers? And how about Stewart's heart, which seems to be flip-flopping for Fontaine a full six years ahead of schedule (he's penciled in "love" for 1954)? Will he be relieved or upset, if and when he learns her full story? It'd be too much to say that "the plane lifts off and hilarity ensues," but I was both amused by the proceedings and invested enough in the leads to care whether they got their happy ending. A warning: some of the aforementioned comic stereotypes-- naive Native Americans, women content to stay in their place-- haven't aged as well as others, so put on your 1940s hat before popping in the DVD.

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