Thursday, September 2, 2010
THE GOOD FAIRY
THE GOOD FAIRY (1935). Director: William Wyler.
Luisa (Margaret Sullavan), a young girl from an orphanage just entering womanhood, is chosen to be an usherette in a big city movie theater in Hungary, and embarks on assorted misadventures with a number of men. She lies to an aggressive, much older admirer, Konrad (Frank Morgan) and tells him she's married, whereupon he decides to enrich the life of her non-existent husband so that he can buy her the furs and jewels Konrad had wished to give her as his mistress. Wanting to be a "good fairy" -- that is, do good deeds for people -- Luisa picks a lawyer, Dr. Max Sporum (Herbert Marshall), whom she hopes is struggling, out of the phone book, then tries to keep Konrad from realizing her deception after he gives Sporum a high-paying position in his firm. Complicating matters is a waiter named Detlaff (Reginald Owen), who befriends and becomes over-protective of Luisa. The plot may be a little ridiculous, but Wyler has turned in a brisk and amusing directorial job and the cast is outstanding. Although the superb Sullavan was 26 at the time of filming, she gets across the spirit and naivety of a woman almost a decade younger. Herbert Marshall proves he's as adept in lighter parts as he is in more intense dramas such as The Letter. Frank Morgan is also marvelous, as is Reginald Owen, as well as Alan Hale, Cesar Romero, and Beulah Bondi in smaller parts. The movie is funny, whimsically charming, and intensely romantic.
Verdict: The Good Fairy is a very good picture. ***1/2.