HAPPY EVER AFTER (1954)
aka TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT
Article 2144 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-28-2007
Posting Date: 6-26-2007
Directed by Mario Zampi
Featuring David Niven, Yvonne De Carlo, Barry Fitzgerald
When the head of a hunting estate in a small village in Ireland dies, he leaves the estate to his nephew who was raised in England. The nephew arrives, and alienates the village with his new policies, which involve collecting long-owned debts (which the previous owner waived) and the eviction of people from their homes. The villagers decide to do away with the new squire.
This is a fairly amusing comedy, though it’s a little slow to start. The first part of the movie mostly tries to let Irish stereotypes run the show, and this gets rather tiresome; though Barry Fitzgerald can be an amusing actor, I prefer him in smaller doses. The arrival of David Niven as the nephew adds some variety to the proceedings, but it doesn’t come to life until the movie takes its full turn into black comedy by having the residents decide to kill the squire. When a lottery is held, the job falls to the village idiot, a circumstance which causes the rest of the villagers, sure that he will not succeed, to strike out on their own with their own plans. As a result, they end up stepping on each other’s toes more than providing any threat to the squire. The fantastic content isn’t present in the above plot description because it doesn’t come into play until the last quarter of the movie, but I can say this much; there is a legend that a ghost of one of the squire’s ancestors haunts the estate once a year, and the movie doesn’t allow this little fact to go unused before all is said and done. Outside of the usual assortment of Irish character actors. the movie also features a pre-Munsters Yvonne De Carlo as a widow who is as scheming as the squire is.