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A Rare British Musical!


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Today, TCM had an airing of a British film that few people, at least in the US have ever seen, let alone heard of called ?As Long as They?re Happy.? The movie was adapted from a successful London stage show from the early 1950s. The show was basically a romantic musical comedy that some historians believe was the basis for another big hit musical, the American Broadway show of ?Bye-Bye Bride.? The star of the movie version was the ever dashing and flashy star of British stage and film, Jack Buchanan. He had been somewhat known to American audiences during the early half of the 20th Century, appearing in various stage shows, while maintaining a rather small film career. The only one big impression Buchanan had made with American audiences was in 1953, when he co-starred opposite Fred Astaire in the now classic MGM musical, ?The Band Wagon.? This 1955 British musical, for both stage and screen, had in some technical ways signified that the British were trying to catch up with the American musical industry that pretty much dominated the whole world market of entertainment. There simply weren?t very many British movie musicals being made that could compete with Hollywood. But, ?As Long as They?re Happy? appeared to be one of the rare exceptions to this rule.

 

The story behind ?As Long as they?re Happy? was interesting, if not, a bit over-the-top or just plain zany to say the least. It was all about a London stockbroker, whose three teenage daughters get into a crazy mix-up with an American singing star, who has come to England on his first tour. The three daughters become infatuated by the American crooner, who in turn, charms everyone else he meets and creates a frenzy of excitement. In the role of the singer was actor Jerry Wayne, who most everybody today never heard of or will probably forget. He had an interesting career in show business, but one that was rather irregular or never one that had a good amount of exposure. The three daughters were played by lovely Janette Scott, Susan Stephen and the real standout, wonderful Jeannie Carson. In later years, Carson would come to America and have her very own television sitcom! She was about the only really solid musical performer in the movie, besides Jerry Wayne. Buchanan, who was known as a musical performer, didn?t get as much of a song-and-dance routine that he was noted for. Instead, he played his role of the stockbroker more towards comic relief than staying closely connected to his musical experience. In supporting roles were well known Brits, such as Brenda de Banzie as the wife of Buchanan and comedian Joan Sims as the maid. There are also wonderful comic performances from David Hurst, as the German psychiatrist. The biggest surprise in the movie is an appearance by the ?Marilyn Monroe of British Movies,? Diana Dors. She really shows off the curves of her physique, pretty much proving she could compete head-on with any blonde ?bomb-shell? from the other side of the Atlantic! Throughout the movie, there are also some cameo appearances by noted British performers of the day.

 

What makes this movie intriguing is the simple fact of how the British are attempting to adopt this American style of what was then modern popular musical entertainment. There are moments it works, while most of the time its rather ridiculous and difficult to understand the British mentality as it tries to relate to what we know on our side of the Atlantic as pop culture. The real connection to our side of the ocean comes at the moment Jerry Wayne?s character of the crooner, sings the once big hit song ?Cry? that was made popular by singer Johnny Ray. This was more or less satirizing the whole pop culture scene of the day. Wayne?s role and even performance has been considered rather animated or cockeyed to the point of annoying. In the overall music department, some of the original tunes as written by Sam Coslow were not bad. Especially nice was the musical dream sequence as performed by Jeannie Carson that while wasn?t anything to rave about in comparison to Hollywood, did add something tuneful and delightful to watch. This movie appeared more like a big all-star British attempt to make something hip for their audiences that at the time were immersed in everything American when it came to contemporary entertainment. It?s doubtful that songwriters Strouse & Adams, who wrote the songs for ?Bye-Bye Bride,? might have been influenced by this British film. However, there is a strong connection throughout the storyline, that can?t be so easily overlooked and in over 50 years has made many feel suspicious about the issue. Many film buffs who discovery this movie, might be amazed to realize it was directed by J. Lee Thompson. In the years to come Thompson would direct another uncanny sort of film, that some feel is connected to this one: the 1963 all-star cast comedy, ?What a Way to Go.? One aspect to consider about ?As Long as They?re Happy? is that we won?t see this movie anywhere else except on TCM! So, if you?re a fan of the obscure and seldom seen (forgotten) movies as I am, then TCM is the place to be and make yourself right at home!

 

Edited by: MovieProfessor on Oct 21, 2009 11:16 PM

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