AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Happy Land
Director: Irving Pichel (Dir)
Release Date:   3 Dec 1943
Production Date:   13 Jun--late Jul 1943
Duration (in mins):   75
Duration (in feet):   6,775
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Don Ameche (Lew Marsh)  
    Frances Dee (Agnes Marsh)  
    Harry Carey (Edward "Gramp" Marsh)  
    Ann Rutherford (Lenore Prentiss)  
    Cara Williams (Gretchen Barry)  
    Richard Crane (Russell "Rusty" Marsh)  
    Henry ["Harry"] Morgan (Anton "Tony" Cavrek)  
    Minor Watson (Judge Colvin)  
    Dickie Moore (Peter Orcutt)  
    William Weber (Bill Beecher)  
    Oscar O'Shea (Father Case)  
    Adeline de Walt Reynolds (Mrs. Schneider)  
    Roseanne Murray (Velma)  
    James West (Rusty, age 12-16)  
    Larry Olsen (Rusty, age 5)  
    Bernard Thomas (Sam Kendall)  
    Terry Masengale (Arch)  
    Edwin Mills (Bud)  
    James J. Smith (Everett Moore)  
    Mary Wickes (Emmy)  
    Walter Baldwin (Jake Hibbs)  
    Tom Stevenson (Mr. MacMurray)  
    Aileen Pringle (Mrs. Prentiss)  
    Matt Moore (Mr. Prentiss)  
    Darla Hood (Lenore Prentiss, age 12)  
    Richard Abbott (Reverend Wood)  
    Lillian Bronson (Mattie Dyer)  
    Ferris Taylor (Mayor)  
    Larry Thompson (Andy Jacobson)  
    Paul Weigel (Pop Schmidt)  
    Ned Dobson Jr. (Jackie)  
    Jackie Averill (Ted)  
    Joe Bernard (Clerk)  
    Houseley Stevenson (Sam Watson)  
    Elvin Field (Joe)  
    Juanita Quigley (Sally Pierce)  
    Milton Kibbee (Shep Wayne)  
    John Dilson (Charles Clayton)  
    Leigh Whipper (Old Ben)  
    Marjorie Cooley (Teacher)  
    Robert Dudley (Old Man Bowers)  
    Pass Lenoir (Dr. Hammond)  

Summary: 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. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Irving Pichel (Dir)
  Arthur Jacobson (Asst dir)
Producer: Kenneth Macgowan (Prod)
Writer: Kathryn Scola (Scr)
  Julien Josephson (Scr)
Photography: Joseph La Shelle (Dir of photog)
  Ray Mala (Asst cam)
Art Direction: James Basevi (Art dir)
  Russell Spencer (Art dir)
Film Editor: Dorothy Spencer (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Thomas Little (Set dec)
  Fred J. Rode (Assoc)
Costumes: Renè Hubert (Cost)
Music: Cyril J. Mockridge (Mus)
  Emil Newman (Mus dir)
Sound: E. Clayton Ward (Sd)
  Roger Heman (Sd)
Special Effects: Fred Sersen (Spec photog eff)
Make Up: Guy Pearce (Makeup artist)
Production Misc: Harry Brand (Dir of pub)
Country: United States

Songs: "Hail, Columbia," music by Philip Phile, lyrics by Joseph Hopkinson.
Composer: Joseph Hopkinson
  Philip Phile
Source Text: Based on the novel Happy Land by MacKinlay Kantor (New York, 1943).
Authors: MacKinlay Kantor

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 3/12/1943 dd/mm/yyyy LP12651

PCA NO: 9481
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

 
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre: Domestic
 
Subjects (Major): Family life
  Fathers and sons
  Ghosts
  Grief
  Small town life
 
Subjects (Minor): Adolescence
  Axes
  Boy Scouts
  Charity
  Clarinets
  Courtship
  Dogs
  Grandfathers
  Iowa
  Maturation
  Military service, Voluntary
  Pharmacists
  Reverends
  Romance
  Sailors
  Veterans
  Wine and wine making
  World War II

Note: 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

Bibliographic Sources:   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 194   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.

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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.
 
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