Musical Monday: As Long As They’re Happy (1955)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
As Long As They’re Happy (1955) – Musical #657

Studio:
Group Films

Director:
J. Lee Thompson

Starring:
Jack Buchanan, Janette Scott, Jeannie Carson, Brenda de Banzie, Susan Stephen, Jerry Wayne, Diana Dors, Hugh McDermott, Norman Wisdom

Plot:
John Bentley (Buchanan) is a stockbroker and his wife Stella (de Banzie) retired from acting to marry him. The Bentleys lead a quiet life in Wimbledon, but their three daughters keep them on their toes:
– 16-year-old Gwen (Scott) is in love with the crying crooner, Bobby Denver.
– Corinne (Stephen) is married to a cowboy(McDermott) and has to wire home so the two can return from Texas.
– Pat (Cason) is married to Peter, a bearded beatnik (Green), and the two live in Paris, where Pat sings in a cafe, where Peter discusses existentialism. The two return home after they get into trouble in a brawl at the cafe.
American singer Bobby Denver (Wayne), known as the crying crooner, ends up staying with a family while visiting England. His stay upsets the whole household, with all the women, including the maid, fall in love with Bobby.

Trivia:
• Based on a 1953 play that also starred Jack Buchanan and Nigel Green. The play ran for 370 performances from July 1953 to May 1954.
• Before the film, the play was adapted for television with Jack Buchanan and Nigel Green. It aired on Oct. 3, 1953.
• The singer Bobby Denver, portrayed by Jerry Wayne, is based on singer Johnnie Ray.
• Norman Wisdom and Diana Dors both make cameos in the film.
• Diana Dors was offered the lead role but could not do the role and agreed to a guest spot.

Jack Buchanan and Joan Sims in “As Long as They’re Happy”

Highlights:
• Eastman color cinematography
• “Merry Go Round” dream sequence number
• Jack Buchanan impersonating Bobby Denver/Jerry Wayne

Notable Songs:
• “Merry Go Round” performed by Jeannie Carson
• “Hokey Pokey Polka” performed by Diana Dors
• “If Your Heart Aches” performed by Jack Buchanan
• “I Don’t Know Whether To Laugh Or Cry” performed by Jerry Wayne and later Jack Buchana

My review:
Most classic film fans are only familiar with Jack Buchanan from his role in the MGM musical THE BAND WAGON (1953). While he only made one Hollywood film, Buchanan was a top star in the United Kingdom on the stage and on films.

One of his last film projects before his death in 1957 was a comedic musical, AS LONG AS THEY’RE HAPPY (1953). Both Buchanan and his co-star Nigel Green were reprising their roles in the film from the original Broadway production and a television broadcast.

AS LONG AS THEY’RE HAPPY is really hilarious.

The story follows American singer, “the crying crooner,” Bobby Denver (Jerry Wayne) as he makes an appearance in England. Somehow, Bobby ends up staying with a stockbroker John Bentley (Jack Buchanan) and his family. As soon as the crooner arrives, his two married daughters return home with their eccentric husbands to stay. One is married to a Texas cowboy, and the other a Parisian existentialist who dresses in shorts and wears a beard.

All of the women in the household fall for Bobby Denver – John’s wife, his three daughters, and the maid, who faints every time she sees Bobby.

The whole town is crazy for Bobby too. As a concert, we see bookish young men, spectacled old ladies, and teen girls all fainting and shouting for Bobby Denver.

Everyone is a fan but Mr. Bentley and his two sons-in-law.

This film so much fun and hysterical. Bobby Denver would cry each time he sang a ballad, which was hilarious and ridiculous. It made me laugh every time the ladies fainted over this crooner, who frankly I didn’t find appealing.

Music-wise – most of the songs were performed by Jerry Wayne as the crooner. There is only one musical-esque number performed by Jeannie Carson in a dream sequence as she sings in the backyard. We also see Diana Dors briefly as a chorus girl who Jack Buchanan invites over for a party to make his wife jealous. She sings a fun number, the Hokey Pokey Polka.

But even if you don’t like musicals, this is more of a comedy. The songs are just part of the plot.

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