"LOVE HAPPY" AND VERA-ELLEN
Above I've posted yet another oddity from the grab-bag hodgepodge movie that is officially the Marx Brothers farewell to their audience'. It's the 'Sadie Thompson' number, as danced by the wonderful Vera-Ellen. (What a genius move putting the hyphen in that name was--it takes two undistinguished first names and creates something puzzlingly exotic). As with everything in 'Love Happy', you can't simply enjoy the number for what it is as there are too many lame things that get in the way. Why is she wearing that stupid striped skirt? (Probably the cheapest thing in wardrobe). Why are they performing in an empty theater? (Probably no money for extras). Why is it shot so poorly? (Lack of time I imagine). Yet Vera-Ellen pulls it off quite nicely, given the limitations. I've been looking for the film's rooftop finale, where Harpo is essentially a shill for a bunch of neon advertising signs that were--as far as I know--the first instance of product placement in motion pictures (the inspiration for the sequence was lack of funds--the producer, Lester Cowan, literally sold advertising space in order to keep the production running). Alas, the sequence, which is the film's best, doesn't seem to be up on Youtube--as with everything associated with 'Love Happy', even this doesn't make sense!
If you'd like to know more about Vera-Ellen's relatively short and unhappy life, click here. I didn't know she'd started as a chorus girl on Broadway, and I certainly didn't know she was an avid Reagan republican. The story of the lost baby and the aenorexia...I'll leave that for you to explore. Suffice to say, this very talented and attractive lady deserved a smoother journey.
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Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 8:38 AM