Happiness Ahead Film Details
Overview: Society heiress Joan Bradford rebels against her mother’s choice of a future husband by masquerading as a working class girl and dating a window washer.
Tagline: Pop Goes Your Heart
Review: HAPPINESS AHEAD (First National, 1934), directed by Mervyn LeRoy, is one of the many 1930s Hollywood comedies dealing with “rich girl falling in love with common man” theme, a cliché’ made famous with Columbia’s Academy Award winning, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT featuring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. In this instance, “It Happened New Year’s Eve” being the basic theme. The setting: New York. Time: New Year’s Eve. The plot: Joan Bradford (Josephine Hutchinson, the central character to the story) is a lonely rich girl who prefers to mingle with the common people instead of her parent’s rich but boring socialites. Granted permission by her understanding father (John Halliday), she walks about the city streets surrounded by happy-go-lucky people waiting for that big stroke of midnight. She comes into a Chinese night club where she sits alone. In the table next to her is Bob Lane (Dick Powell), a window washer, accompanied by his friends (Frank McHugh, Dorothy Dare and others). When the lights go out at the stroke of midnight, the lights come back on and Bob is seen mistakenly kissing Joan. Feeling sorry for the girl because she is alone, Bob invites her to his table. This becomes the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but Joan hides the fact of who she really is, pretending to be an unemployed girl living in a tenement apartment under the surname of Smith. Also featured in the cast are Allen Jenkins and Ruth Donnelly as the Bradford chauffeur and maid; Marjorie Gateson as Joan’s mother; Gavin Gordon as Joan’s stuffy suitor; and Jane Darwell as the nosy landlady. HAPPINESS AHEAD relies more on plot than songs, but there’s enough to go around, including the title tune sung by Powell prior to the opening credits as he’s presented transposed through the clouds; “Pop Goes Your Heart,” “All on Account of Strawberry Sundae” (sung by Dorothy Dare and Powell); “Beauty Must Be Loved” and “Massaging Window Panes” (sung by Powell and McHugh as they wash windows) In 1938, Powell starred in another “rich girl/common man” story for Warner Brothers titled HARD TO GET with Olivia De Havilland as the heiress and Powell as a gas station attendant. Hutchinson’s performance from this earlier film is more refined while the refine DeHavilland herself in HARD TO GET is more madcap and spoiled, making that story more amusing and fun. Both films, similar in theme, are quite enjoyable in spite their lack of production numbers famous in Warners musicals during that time. HAPPINESS AHEAD would be reworked again by Warner Brothers as HERE COMES HAPPINESS (1941), a “B” comedy featuring Edward Norris and Mildred Coles (including the “Happiness Ahead” theme song), and as LOVE AND LEARN (1947) with Jack Carson and Martha Vickers. All three versions can be seen from time to time on cable TV’s Turner Classic Movies. As Powell would say throughout the movie, “Well, that’s taken care of.” It certainly is. (***)
Duration: 86 min
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Romance
Also known as: Verso la felicità,Va’ ska mamma säga?,Vi unge kan selv,Rayon d’amour,春の夜明け,En pos de la ventura,Felicidade pela Frente,Boldogság a láthatáron,Happiness Ahead,Um Sol na Vida