With Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Groucho Marx, Ilona Massey, Vera Ellen, Marion Hutton, Eric Blore, Leon Belasco, Raymond Burr, Marilyn Monroe
Directed by David Miller
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

Whatever became of Margaret Dumont?     LOVE HAPPY was originally conceived as a solo vehicle for the silent Marx Brother Harpo, but behind the scenes (and Harpo's back), producer Lester Cowan wanted Groucho and Chico to be part of it so that it could be sold as a Marx Brothers movie.

     But is it a Marx Brothers movie?  Let's examine Marilyn Monroe... er... the evidence. (1) Groucho spends most of his meager screentime not with Chico or Harpo, but with Eric Blore, who, as fine a character actor as he was, was never a Marx Brother. (2) No Margaret Dumont.  Not even a Sig Ruman, Walter Woolf King, Nat Pendleton or Douglas Dumbrille.  (3) No pun-filled chatter between Groucho and Chico.  In fact, I don't think that Chico and Groucho even exchange dialogue until the final scene, and even then, they are not in the same shot.  (4) No novelty songs for Groucho to sing.  (5) No attacks on society.  (6) Chico has a more important part than Groucho.  (7) Raymond Burr has a more important part than Groucho.  (8) Unbelievably, there is not a single shot in the film that manages to catch all three brothers together.  If LOVE HAPPY is a Marx Brothers film, than I am Brad Pitt.

     On the plus side, Harpo can't help be funny (because he's Harpo, that's why!) and has some clever visual gags (animator and gag writer Frank Tashlin had a hand in the script) and the rooftop chase at the end is actually lots of fun to watch. Chico, who acquits himself very nicely throughout despite very little material,  has a funny piano and violin routine with Leon Belasco, a sketch Chico frequently did on stage and radio.  But the film's most memorable moment, outside of a a short appearance by the young and stunning Marilyn Monroe, is the outlandish sight of Chico's hat achieving a full erection in the presence of Ilona Massey.  Love happy indeed! 2½ - JB

The Marx Brothers     The Age of Comedy

Notes by John V. "Jay" Brennan


Harpo's Solo: "Happy Birthday To You" and "Love Happy"/"Swanee River" (medley)

"Happy Birthday To You" is based on a traditional song called "Good Morning To All", and has a very interesting copyright history that is too long and boring to get into in a review of LOVE HAPPY. I refer you to Wikipedia.

"Swanee River", also known as "Old Folks At Home" was written by Stephen Foster in 1851.  Like many Foster songs, it is still with us.  The guy knew how to write songs that would last!

"Love Happy" was written by Ann Ronell, who had a hand in several hits songs, including "Willow Weep for Me" and "Who's Afraid of The Big Bad Wolf?", which can be heard (or misheard, in my case) in DUCK SOUP.  It is the tune played by the muscial beer stein that Harpo accidentally sets off in that film. Ronell also wrote the rest of the songs for LOVE HAPPY.

Chico's Solo: "Gypsy Love Song".  See our review of THE COCOANUTS for more on this song.  I always found it fitting that Chico started his Marx Brothers movie career with this song and ended it with the same song.  And both versions are wonderful.

Late in the film, Chico is on stage playing Chopin's "Polonaise in A Flat" (as in "the key of A Flat", not "Polonaise in somebody's apartment").  However, it is unclear if it is actually (1) Chico playing, (2) Chico miming to his own previously recorded piece, or (3) Chico miming to somebody else's version of Chopin. We never do get to see Chico's hands on the keys, and my guess is on (3).

Of course, as THE BIG STORE told us, you'll sell no pan without Chopin.


     LOVE HAPPY is most famous now for featuring a young Marilyn Monroe in one of her earliest film appearances.  According to Groucho, it was he who chose Monroe from a handful of possible actresses to play in one small scene with him.  Don't go out for a snack - she enters the film at about the one hour mark and is out of the film forty seconds later.


     When money ran out to complete the film, the producers hit on an innovative idea: use the film's climactic chase as a space for advertisement, which was at that time, as movie historian Joe Adamson said, "a practice about as common as Irish measles".  The companies and products whose billboards and advertisement are shown during the chase include Curtiss (Baby Ruth Candy), General Electric, Fisk Tires, Wheaties, Mobil Gas and Oil,  Bulova (a company already mentioned in a Groucho joke during the film) and Kool Cigarettes.  Unlike the movies that use blatant product placement today, LOVE HAPPY manages to make good use of the advertising, getting some really clever gags out of them.  Which is good, since this is supposed to be a Marx Brothers comedy, even though, as previously discussed, it is not.


     In 2004, the original cut of LOVE HAPPY, prepared in 1949, was released on DVD.  This cut is six minutes longer than the one that played on television for years, and along with some minor editing differences, it has a few more gags from Harpo and a precious few more minutes of Groucho.  The six minutes don't add up to a hell of a difference from the general release print of 1950, but it seemed worth mentioning.