Happy Land (1943)

75 mins | Fantasy | 3 December 1943

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HISTORY

Screenwriter Julien Josephson's first name was spelled "Julian" in the opening credits. An abridged version of MacKinlay Kantor's novel appeared in the The Saturday Evening Post on 28 Nov 1942 and in the Aug 1943 issue of Reader's Digest . According to HR news items, Twentieth Century-Fox originally intended to use Kantor's novel, which was purchased for $25,000, as a vehicle for Thomas Mitchell. Subsequent news items reported that Joseph Cotten and Robert Young were also considered for the film. According to HR news items and studio publicity, the picture was shot on location in Santa Rosa, CA, with additional scenes being filmed in nearby Healdsburg. The Time review adds that some scenes were shot in Sebastopol. A HR news item stated that the picture would have its premiere in sixty-one theaters in Iowa on 2 Dec 1943. The picture marked the screen debuts of stage actress Lillian Bronson and Cara Williams. According to studio publicity, Alfred Hitchcock's daughter Patricia was also to make her debut, although her participation in the finished film has not been confirmed. According to modern sources, five-year-old Natalie Wood, who was a resident of Santa Rosa, appears in a bit part in the picture. Don Ameche starred in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story on 10 Apr 1944. A television adaptation of the film was presented on the 20th Century-Fox Hour in Feb 1956, under the title In Times Like These ... More Less

Screenwriter Julien Josephson's first name was spelled "Julian" in the opening credits. An abridged version of MacKinlay Kantor's novel appeared in the The Saturday Evening Post on 28 Nov 1942 and in the Aug 1943 issue of Reader's Digest . According to HR news items, Twentieth Century-Fox originally intended to use Kantor's novel, which was purchased for $25,000, as a vehicle for Thomas Mitchell. Subsequent news items reported that Joseph Cotten and Robert Young were also considered for the film. According to HR news items and studio publicity, the picture was shot on location in Santa Rosa, CA, with additional scenes being filmed in nearby Healdsburg. The Time review adds that some scenes were shot in Sebastopol. A HR news item stated that the picture would have its premiere in sixty-one theaters in Iowa on 2 Dec 1943. The picture marked the screen debuts of stage actress Lillian Bronson and Cara Williams. According to studio publicity, Alfred Hitchcock's daughter Patricia was also to make her debut, although her participation in the finished film has not been confirmed. According to modern sources, five-year-old Natalie Wood, who was a resident of Santa Rosa, appears in a bit part in the picture. Don Ameche starred in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story on 10 Apr 1944. A television adaptation of the film was presented on the 20th Century-Fox Hour in Feb 1956, under the title In Times Like These . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
27 Nov 1943.
---
Daily Variety
11 Nov 43
p. 3.
Film Daily
10 Nov 43
p. 43.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 43
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
25 May 43
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 43
p. 3, 9
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jun 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jul 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 43
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Dec 43
p. 9.
Motion Picture Daily
10 Nov 1943
p. 1, 6
Motion Picture Herald
13 Nov 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Sep 43
p. 1555.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
13 Nov 43
p. 1625.
New York Times
9 Dec 43
p. 33.
Time
13 Dec 43
p. 92.
Variety
10 Nov 43
p. 34.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Assoc
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Dir of pub
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Happy Land by MacKinlay Kantor (New York, 1943).
SONGS
"Hail, Columbia," music by Philip Phile, lyrics by Joseph Hopkinson.
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 December 1943
Production Date:
13 June--late July 1943
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
3 December 1943
Copyright Number:
LP12651
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
75
Length(in feet):
6,775
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
9481
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

One afternoon, in 1943, Lew Marsh, the third generation of Marsh men who have served as pharmacist to the small community of Hartfield, Iowa, is lunching with his devoted wife Agnes when a telegram arrives notifying them that their only child, Russell, whom they called Rusty, has been killed in action. Lew is overwhelmed by his grief, and as the weeks pass, he neglects the pharmacy and refuses to talk even to Agnes. Reverend Wood attempts to comfort Lew with the knowledge that Rusty died for his country, but Lew, bitter that Rusty never married or had a son of his own, declares that Rusty died for nothing because he had not lived a full life. After the reverend leaves, Lew is visited by the spirit of his late grandfather, Edward "Gramp" Marsh, who reared Lew after his parents died. Gramp tells Lew that he has been watching over him and is disturbed by his intense, prolonged mourning. At first Lew resists Gramp's offer to help, but Gramp insists on accompanying him on his afternoon walk. As they meander through the town, Gramp takes Lew back in time to review the events of his and Rusty's lives: Twenty-five years previously, Lew marches in a parade welcoming home the soldiers of World War I. After learning that his girl friend married another man during his absence, Lew meets Agnes Dickens. Lew and Agnes fall in love, and after they are married, Agnes gives birth to Rusty. Gramp dies shortly after Rusty's birth, but Lew takes comfort in his new family. As Rusty grows up, he becomes a mischevious boy who refuses ... +


One afternoon, in 1943, Lew Marsh, the third generation of Marsh men who have served as pharmacist to the small community of Hartfield, Iowa, is lunching with his devoted wife Agnes when a telegram arrives notifying them that their only child, Russell, whom they called Rusty, has been killed in action. Lew is overwhelmed by his grief, and as the weeks pass, he neglects the pharmacy and refuses to talk even to Agnes. Reverend Wood attempts to comfort Lew with the knowledge that Rusty died for his country, but Lew, bitter that Rusty never married or had a son of his own, declares that Rusty died for nothing because he had not lived a full life. After the reverend leaves, Lew is visited by the spirit of his late grandfather, Edward "Gramp" Marsh, who reared Lew after his parents died. Gramp tells Lew that he has been watching over him and is disturbed by his intense, prolonged mourning. At first Lew resists Gramp's offer to help, but Gramp insists on accompanying him on his afternoon walk. As they meander through the town, Gramp takes Lew back in time to review the events of his and Rusty's lives: Twenty-five years previously, Lew marches in a parade welcoming home the soldiers of World War I. After learning that his girl friend married another man during his absence, Lew meets Agnes Dickens. Lew and Agnes fall in love, and after they are married, Agnes gives birth to Rusty. Gramp dies shortly after Rusty's birth, but Lew takes comfort in his new family. As Rusty grows up, he becomes a mischevious boy who refuses to go to kindergarten without his dog, but also a kind-hearted little fellow who brings two half-starved classmates to the pharmacy for ice cream. When Rusty is twelve, Lew and Agnes watch with pride as he is inducted into the Boy Scouts. Lew's pride grows when, one day, he watches unseen as Rusty uses his own savings to pay for a prescription needed by a poor man for his pain-stricken wife. When Rusty is eighteen, he is a happy and hard-working teenager who falls in love for the first time with Gretchen Barry. Lew and Agnes are anxious about the relationship, and their fears about Gretchen are realized when she drops Rusty for an older boy. Lew tries to comfort his son by sharing a toast of loganberry wine, thereby acknowledging Rusty's manhood. Rusty is not alone for long, however, for he notices that Lenore Prentiss, a childhood playmate, has grown into a lovely young woman. Rusty and Lenore begin courting, and soon after, the youngsters are caught up in discussions about German aggression in Europe. Although some of Rusty's friends join the Canadian Flying Corps, Rusty decides to obtain his pharmacist's certificate so that he can be of more use if the war continues. Rusty does well in his classes, and despite their reluctance, Lew and Agnes realize that it is Rusty's right to make his own decision when he announces that he is joining the Navy. Rusty bids a fond farewell to Lenore and his parents, who do not know that it will be the last time they see their son. Gramp then brings Lew back to the present day and coaxes him to admit that Rusty did enjoy a full, rich life. Lew is still not sure that Rusty's sacrifice was worthwhile, however, so Gramp urges him to go to the pharmacy that evening. Lew does, and as he is closing up, a shy, young sailor named Anton Cavrek enters. He tells Lew that he is Tony, the soldier about whom Rusty often wrote in his letters home. Lew takes Tony to meet Agnes, and the Marshes listen as Tony describes how Rusty died while trying to save a wounded comrade. Agnes then bustles about preparing a room for Tony, who has no family of his own, while Lew pours him a glass of loganberry wine. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.