Oscar Movies: Happy Ending–Jean Simmons

As directed and written by Richard Brooks, “The Happy Ending” is a borderline banal and overwrought melodrama, aiming to dissect bourgeois marriages and disillusioned suburban housewives, who console themselves with pills and alcohol in order to tolerate their spouses’ infidelities.

The protagnist is Mary Wilson (Jean Simmons), who is married to the trim, handsome and prosperous Fred (John Forsythe).  The occasion: Preparation for for their 16th wedding-anniversary party, except the only way to do it is with the help of tranquilizers and booze.

The guests are mostly clients of Fred’s, a successful tax attorney, such as Harry (Dick Shawn) and his wife Helen (Tina Louise). In the course of the evening, Helen offers herself to Fred, as Mary entertains thoughts of sleeping with the playboy Sam (Lloyd Bridges), or perhaps the much younger gigolo (Bobby Darin).

Agnes (Nanette Fabray) is the level-headed housekeeper who observes the proceedings, beginning with Mary’s hospitalization, and need of  stomach pumping, after a half-hearted suicide attempt.  After the incident, her incredulous husband shallowly suggests that she needs a hobby.

In this cheap imitation of John Cassavetes’ “Faces,” Brooks shows greater sympathy for the females, though all the characters (women included) come across as caricatures.

End result is a superficial and pretentious melodrama, trying to explain: What drove Mary to be an alcoholic, pill-popping neurotic, who has to fly off to the Bahamas to calm herself, have an affair and, finally, decide to leave husband.

 

Oscar Nominations: 2

Actress: Jean Simmons

Song: “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”

 

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Best Actress Oscar was another British actress, Maggie Smith, for “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.”

The Song Oscar went to “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

 

Credits

Runing time: 112 Minutes.

Directed, written by Richard Brooks

Released: December 21, 1969.

DVD: May 28, 1996