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  Happy is the Bride Wedding Hells
Year: 1958
Director: Roy Boulting
Stars: Ian Carmichael, Janette Scott, Cecil Parker, Terry-Thomas, Joyce Grenfell, Eric Barker, Edith Sharpe, Elvi Hale, Miles Malleson, Athene Seyler, Irene Handl, John Le Mesurier, Thorley Walters, Nicholas Parsons, Virginia Maskell, Brian Oulton, Joan Hickson
Genre: Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: A cricket match on the village green in summer, what could be more relaxing? But David Chaytor (Ian Carmichael) isn't relaxed, he's supposed to be batting next yet is more caught up in talking to his girlfriend Janet Royd (Janette Scott) and utterly failing to get to the point. However, she is well aware of what he is trying to ask, so guides him by saying yes, she will marry him, and he couldn't be happier, so happy in fact that he almost misses his chance to play in the match. Janet's father Arthur (Cecil Parker) is bowling, though when David tries to tell him the news he is more interested in playing the game; there is one person who has heard about the upcoming nuptials and she's Janet's younger sister Miranda (Sarah Drury) for she was eavesdropping, and soon the news is passed around the village...

Happy is the Bride was a remake of a film from over fifteen years before, Quiet Wedding, a big hit with wartime audiences in Britain, which was presumably why the material was dusted off for another go, this time helmed by one of the most successful comedy directors of the decade, Roy Boulting. In comparison with sharp satires he had made with his brother, this was rather mild and came across as a job he had been hired for rather than one he had guided himself, though he did have a co-writing credit with Jeffrey Dell. You could argue most of the groundwork has been achieved by Esther McCracken and her original play all the movies were drawn from, but should you care to examine this closer the style was there.

A style of sending up British life that was, of which it seemed the sacred institution of marriage was the target, though it could just as easily have been the niceties of British customs and how restricting they were, plainly a work looking forward to a time when the bride and groom were allowed to see each other before the wedding, even staying together the night before which is presented as something scandalous (in a humorous fashion), though it gets around that by contriving to see David and Janet trapped by circumstances into spending the night in their new home before they are married, and not because they wished to get up to hanky panky. That said, it's also clear they wanted to do that as well.

Ian Carmichael was essaying his role in his typical form, adept at farce and acting discombobulated in the face of polite society he is assuredly a part of but tends to get the wrong end of the stick about him over and over again nonetheless. Janette Scott, one of the most beautiful starlets of the fifties and sixties, would these days be best known for her occasional forays into horror and science fiction - she's famously mentioned in the opening theme of The Rocky Horror Picture Show - but here played a more accustomed role, fairly decorative yet demonstrating a personality that could switch between demure or a steely resolve depending on the requirements of the scene. The fact is, there was no way with Boulting directing he wasn't going to get in a few barbs about society.

Therefore the further the would-be happy couple get involved with their plans for a summer wedding, the more complicated it becomes, from the obvious touch of this director to have the decorators of their new house go out on strike after being requested to actually do some work to the twittering of Joyce Grenfell as a maiden aunt for whom every mishap is a personal disaster even if it's really nothing to do with her. The cast was a good one all round, with Eric Barker as the vicar ploughing ahead with the ceremony in spite of its increasing problems, Elvi Hale as the fiancée to Janet's brother (Nicholas Parsons) rubbing everyone up the wrong way with her modern demeanour (like saying "Hi!" instead of "Hello, pleased to meet you,"), and Terry-Thomas demonstrating range as a dull, by the book policeman offering yet another obstacle. There's a point in this where the whole concept of getting married is called into question as an act of madness that will only generate irritation and even fury, but rest assured the status quo is reset by the end - they've had their fun. Music by Benjamin Frankel.

[Network's DVD looks in fine shape, and includes the trailer and a gallery as extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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