Tuesday, August 21, 2012

EDBP: Movie Review - The Happiest Millionaire

My review? Like, like, like. Next film!

Okay, fine. I'll do a real review. :)

By the way, I apologize for this post being published so late. Today got really busy and I didn't even get a chance to finish writing this post until now. What were we so busy with? Ah, I'll tell you later. For now, bloggers: The Happiest Millionaire!

(Spoilers ahead. Please proceed with your guard up and your chin tucked.)

I wasn't fooling with that warning. See?

To tell you the truth, I really thought this was a corny movie when I first saw it. My siblings and I had been going through an old Disney film craze, so The Happiest Millionaire was one of the first we ordered from our library to view.

My family is the kind of family that immediately notices the music. Because we sing, we really notice music. And music was one thing that really stood out to us when we were watching The Happiest Millionaire. The songs in this movie are so singable, so memorable, so epic! (yes, yes, it's that word again, but I can't help myself) :)

John Lawless
The best character hands down is John Lawless. He's awesome. I usually don't say that about characters in movies, but I'm saying it about John. He's the best. He breaks the fourth wall (meaning he talks to the audience at parts), and it's hilarious! John is an Irishman, newly in off the boat and looking for a butler's position with the Biddles, an extremely wealthy family living in Philadelphia. He's concerned at first when he learns that no servants stay in the household for very long, saving, of course, the loyal cook, Mrs. Worth. However, when Mr. Biddle makes an appearance, announcing that he's been bit on the finger by an alligator, John wonders if the servants were right in not sticking around. But things happen, and John gets the butler's position. "Dinner's at seven, she says. Heaven help me." :)

Mr. Anothony J. Drexel Biddle... who really is the happiest millionaire. He has a Bible boxing class out in the stables and he keeps pet alligators in the conservatory. I've really enjoyed watching the old movies with Fred MacMurray in them, and this one is no exception. He's excellent in this role! He loves his wife and three children (Cordy, Tony, and Liv) dearly and has a hard time in letting his kids leave, which they do. I especially love the father-daughter relationship the movie shows between Mr. Biddle and Cordy. It's a very strong, trusting relationship, not typical for most movies. 

Mr.Biddle with one of his alligators

Cordy (Cordelia) Drexel Biddle is a young girl who would like to begin moving on with her life, and asks for a chance to go to school. Mr. Biddle doesn't like the idea at first, but he grudgingly agrees, telling his daughter that if she keeps her guard up and her chin tucked, there will be nothing she should be afraid of. Oh, yeah, did I mention... Cordy boxes, too. Yep, and she's got a better left hook than Tony or Liv.

Tony and Liv (Anthony and Livingston) you only see briefly in the beginning of the film, which is really a shame because they're such great characters. When a boy comes calling on their sister, Cordy, Tony and Liv take it into their own hands to warn that boy about what Cordy is really like. Cue “Watch Your Footwork.” Epic!

Anywho, but the film's not about Tony and Liv (cry, sniff, sad, get over it, Kiri), but rather Cordy. On the whole, Cordy can come off as a little annoying sometimes, but you don't notice it that much because the grand performances from John and Mr. Biddle outweigh that. So, Cordy goes off to school and meets...

Cordy and Angie
Angie Duke! (That's pronounced “Ann-Gee” unless you're Mrs. Duke, then it's “Ohn-Jhay”) It's your typical love story... a romantic dance, and they're in love. Whoop-de-do. Anywho, Angie is a likable guy. Really. The heir to a multi-million dollar fortune, Angie isn't that much interested in girls, finery, and all that whatnot. Instead, his dream is to go to Detriot and be a part of the car industry, to make a car any color you want. You find out very quickly that Angie loves cars. However, his mother has different plans for him: he's to inherit the family tobacco business and live in New York.

Then Cordy and Angie get engaged (I did warn you that there would be spoilers!), and Mr. Biddle isn't sure what to think of it. But of course, he gets the news of their engagement directly after finding every one of his alligators frozen after a nitwit maid left the conservatory windows left open in the dead of winter. Ah, yes, it's a bad thing to lose your pet alligators and your daughter all on the same black night.

But as much as I've already given away a whole bunch of spoilers, I don't want to totally ruin the story for you all. Let's switch topics slightly and address the songs, shall we?

The first song that frolics across the screen is right at the beginning when John Lawless first shows up on the streets of Philadelphia. “Fortuosity” is John's theme song, in a way. I really enjoy this song, although I will say that I don't totally agree with John's view of luck/fortune.

“What's Wrong With That?” If “Fortuosity” is John's theme song, then this one is Mr. Biddle's theme song. Umm... I won't say any more on that one. You need to watch it for yourself. :)

After that comes “Watch Your Footwork.” This. Song. Is. Epic. Why do I like it so much? Not only does it tell a great story about some of Cordy's past suitors, and it has a really catchy tune, but it condemns mush! Huzzah! Okay, what did I mean by that? You should all know that I'm not really a proponent of romance, and basically to paraphrase this song, when a guy tried to kiss Cordy, she knocked him out. That, my friends, is dynamite up her sleeve! Okay, I realize all of that is not totally necessary for this review, anywho, so I'll keep moving.

"Dynamite up her sleeve!"

“Valentine Candy” is a slower song that Cordy sings. It's not a bad song, but it's not one of my favorites. Cordy would like to be like other girls and find someone to share her life with, but she's uncertain if she's valentine candy or boxing gloves.

“Strengthen the Dwelling” is sung by all the men in Mr. Biddle's boxing class. Even though it's rather short, it's a hearty song to keep the men on their toes as they practice and train.

"Waltzing's for old folks!"
“I'll Always Be Irish.” John is now living in America as a butler to a millionaire, and even though he's going to become an American, he can never stop being Irish as well. “Ask for Irish stew in Ireland, and see what you get! In Ireland, all the stew's Irish!” This is a really good song as well, and it's when John realizes that he's going to fit into this strange household just fine. I guess he saw himself as different than the other servants who left and figured the Biddle house was where he ought to be.

The next song is one that Cordy sings with her friend, Rosemary, at school, and we skip this one. “Bye-Um-Pum-Pum” or something of that nonsense. Basically, this is where Cordy learns to flirt. Not on the whole a very good song to watch.

“Are We Dancing?” Kind of a dumb question to sing as you're dancing, but I guess Cordy and Angie didn't realize they were being dumb. Yeah, this is their romantic dance. Actually, the tune is really pretty, even though the words are a bit off-kilter.

If you can't see that itty bitty car... just know it's Angie's.

Where does Angie want to go? “Detriot!” Yep, that's right. He sings a whole song about his dream of making a name in the city of automobiles. It's actually a really fun song, and I sing it often. To the frustration of my darling siblings... :)

Aunt Mary with John
Then... “There Are Those.” Mrs. Duke, in all her New York ways and snobby finery, disapproves of her son's choice of a wife, and thinks those in Philadelphia less than those in New York. She sings this song with the Biddle's Aunt Mary who thinks quite the opposite. It's funny to watch these two women banter back and forth, each stinging and receiving stings in turn.

“Let's Have A Drink On It.” Yes, I realize this is a drinking song, but if you can overlook the Irish stout, it's probably one of the best songs in the entire movie. Right after “Watch Your Footwork.” Angie is fed up with everyone else running his life and runs out of the house in a fit. John Lawless, the faithful butler, follows him to the bar and tries to persuade Angie not to do anything rash... in a not obvious way. My brother Doofus and I sing this song, Doofus singing John's part and me singing Angie's. And yes, Doofus does all the actions. This song is one of the best to watch and act out. Epic!

The last song is “It Won't Be Long 'til Christmas” and I must confess, I've never seen this song in its entirety. It's pretty and all that, I guess, but Mrs. Biddle's voice gets a tick annoying after a while, and then you feel led to hit the fast forward button and get to something better. Well, some people like this song, I'm sure, but it's not one of my favorites. Mrs. Biddle sings about all the kids coming home for Christmas and tells Mr. Biddle not to feel sorry that he let them go. That's it in a nutshell.

"It's a bite! Blast it!"

And here we are at the end of the movie!! So... final thoughts:

Rating out of 5 stars: If it was possible, I'd give this movie 6 stars!! But, reality here... 5 stars. :)

Did I enjoy The Happiest Millionaire? Yep. It's the kind of movie that grows on you. And I mean really grows on you. Really, really grows on you. And then you just love it. :)

Would I watch it again? Yeppers. And I have. Many times. :)

Would I recommend it to other people? Yep, again, but as always, please watch with discretion. 


  1. This one is on my list of movies that I need to chase down and watch all the way through one day. I've seen bits and pieces of it, though, mostly the songs, which are, I agree, very singable.

  2. This movie sounds really good! I had actually never heard of it until you mentioned it, but I might just have to watch it.
    Kristin @ the-greatperhaps.blogspot.com

  3. Ooooh, sounds like fun! I'd never heard of this movie before but now I think I'm going to try to find some of the songs and then the movie!

  4. Favorite character: John Lawless. Hands down. But Liv and Tony are pretty good, too! An epic Disney musical! :)