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Joy of Living

Buy from Amazon.com Joy of Living (1938) starring Irene Dunne, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Lucille Ball

Synopsis of Joy of Living, courtesy of Amazon.com

Broadway star Maggie Garret (Irene Dunne) sings for her supper. And for everybody else’s. She’s the meal ticket for relatives who sap her of money and time, rob her of the joy of living. But Maggie’s workaday world changes when she meets a carefree millionaire (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) who thinks Maggie is a peach. And her family is the pits.

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Irene Dunne plays Margaret Garret, a broadway and radio musical sensation, who is being financially bled dry by her family, including her younger sister Salina (Lucille Ball) — and has no personal life, being mobbed at every turn by adoring fans. She is rescued from one of these mobs by Daniel Brewster (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.), a wealthy young shipping tycoon who has fallen for Margaret from afar. She, of course, promptly has him arrested as a stalker! When he brings her to court and the judge is going to give him six months for nothing, Margaret persuades the judge to go easy on him.

The judge, however, uses a technicality to appoint her to be Fairbanks’ probation officer, giving him the opportunity to show her how to have fun.  She’s consumed with her responsibility for her overly dependent family, including her not so adoring sister and understudy, Salina (Lucille Ball), chomping at the bit to be in her sister’s shoes, her father (Guy Kibbee) who has no end of cleverly sneaking alcohol into every container in the house, and her mother (Alice Brady).

Daniel’s enthusiasm for living life to the fullest wears down Margaret’s defenses in a big way during a night on the town. The ever responsible Margaret gets to enjoy life as the two record their own song, have a drinking contest, and a wild time at a rollerskating rink, all which prove to be great fun for fans of 1930’s romantic comedy. After a few twists and turns, it is obvious to Margaret she will have to choose between her family and her own happiness.

The film also hosts some of the funniest second bananas of the period, including Eric Blore and Billy Gilbert. Joy of Living is a forgotten gem, available on DVD from Amazon.com. It’s a musical comedy romance, and includes the following music:

  • Just Let Me Look at You
  • What’s Good About Good Night?
  • A Heavenly Party
  • You Couldn’t Be Cuter
  • Rock-a-Bye Baby
  • Wiener Blut (Viennese Blood), Op.354

Movie quotes from Joy of Living

Margaret ‘Maggie’ Garret (Irene Dunne): But I’m not a Garret, I’m a Brewster. And we Brewsters do what we want to do when we want to do it.


Margaret ‘Maggie’ Garret (Irene Dunne): I want another piece of beer.


Margaret ‘Maggie’ Garret (Irene Dunne): [looking at her maid under the steam ] Do you have to stay all day and smoke that thing?


Margaret ‘Maggie’ Garret (Irene Dunne): But I make $10,000 a week!
Harrison: Ten thousand? Hmm-mm.
[holds up ten fingers, then closes five]
Harrison: That balances Mr. Roosevelt’s budget.
[counting off the other fingers]
Harrison: then there’s Selena’s singing lessons, the twins ballet lessons, Father’s stock market contributions, Mother’s antiques. The leaves you…
[makes an “o” with her hand]


 

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