Based on a true story; with bright costumes, fun songs and a lighthearted plot, Happiest Millionaire takes you away into a delightful world of its own!
This is a classic musical from 1967, directed by Norman Tokar and starring Fred McMurray and Greer Garson. It will win you over the moment Tommy Steele begins the movie by singing and dancing his heart out to the song “Fortuosity”!
Watch the trailer here.
The story begins in 1916 as an Irish immigrant is hired as a butler by a sweet, although rather eccentric family. You soon learn that this family owns alligators, teaches boxing classes and values what truly matters most, God and each other.
The family is led by Fred McMurray and Greer Garson’s characters, who are parents of three almost-grown children, and are struggling to let them go. When their daughter, Cordelia, asks to go away to a girl’s college, their life begins to turn upside down.
Of course there is romance, some conflict, lots of amazing songs and many fun times! From love to music, boxing to cars, this movie has something for the whole family.
Looking at The Happiest Millionaire on the surface, it looks like a clean, wholesome, fun musical. But lets look at it a little deeper…
One of the first things that truly stands out to me is the parents’ relationship to each other and their children.
Greer Garson plays an incredibly supportive, gentle and respectful wife. No matter what crazy idea or reaction comes out of her husband, she responds with grace and encouragement.
Fred McMurray first portrays the semi-crazy and eccentric husband. But as the movie progresses, you see what a heart he has for his family. Truly, that is the motivation for everything he does. His biggest goal in life is to create a good home atmosphere to raise his children in.
I also appreciate the way the young romance is written. It is very sweet and subtle. Angie, one of the daughters’ love interest, is a man with a dream and wants nothing more (including his family’s wealth) then to marry his sweetheart and live happily ever after building cars in Detroit.
Cordelia is willing to let go of her home and past plans so that she can support her sweetie in the life he dreams of. Their only disagreement is when she fears he is being pressured by his mother to give up his passion.
The last thing I want to mention in this section is really a small part of the movie but very cool to me nonetheless. The boxing class that Fred McMurray’s character plays is called the Biddle Bible Class and their song during the class speaks of strengthening their body, because it is the “dwelling of the Lord”.
The only things I would put in this section is, first, there is one scene with some drinking. You don’t actually see anyone drunk but you do see someone with a hangover the next day but it is painted negatively.
Secondly, Angie stands up to his mother in a couple of scenes and I think he could probably be a bit more respectful. In his defense, though, his mother is micromanaging her adult son and telling him how he needs to spend the rest of his life. Of course, there relationship ends on a good note at the end of the movie.
And finally, there is a scene where Cordelia’s roommate teaches her how to “flirt”. Basically, that means she is tells her to look mysterious and then teaches her how to dance in a harmless 1920s fashion.
I want to end this review by saying that I am a fan of a LOT of classic musicals, but The Happiest Millionaire is one of my all-times favorites! Hope you enjoy!
Let me know what you think!