I saw this striking photo of MARGARET SULLAVAN and was curious about the film it was from – THE GOOD FAIRY.
Margaret is wearing a hussar’s uniform and is holding at right angles a device – which is actually a torch. The three colors are so vibrant.
I didn’t know anything about the film so couldn’t figure out why Margaret was in this uniform.It never occurred to me that she is actually playing an usherette in a cinema!
There are lots of good things in this gossamer light comedy, but generally the plot and dialogue weren’t that funny. Or else my sense of humour took a holiday .
Margaret is Luisa Ginglebusher, an 18 year old living in an orphanage in Budapest run by BEULAH BONDI. They get a visit from ALAN HALE who is looking for some pretty girls to be usherettes in his lavish cinema, ‘The Dream Palace’, which he proudly tells them seats 3,000 .
He chooses Luisa who is reminded by Beulah that she should try and do a good deed every day. The ways of the world aren’t mentioned.
We next see Luisa in her uniform marching downstairs ( in the lobby of Hollywood’s Pantages Theater) .
A terrific shot inside the magnificent Pantages.
Mr. Schlapkohl (Alan Hale) lines his girls up like a military troup.
There is a great scene where Luisa stands to attention, holding a neon arrow which lights up as she directs filmgoers to the right or left of the auditorium.
Reginald Owen is a customer,Detlaff who gets confused with Luisa’s arrow pointing.
Luisa has never seen a film before and when she shows someone to their seat, she is overwhelmed by the big screen and ,almost hypnotised, slowly sits down in the auditorium next to Detlaff.
The scene shown on screen has June Clayworth and Gavin Gordon playing a feuding couple who are parting but the lady doesn’t want to leave. Gavin just keeps saying “Go” in clipped tones to everything she says . He says the word about a dozen times and it is very funny.
Later the usherettes leave the cinema, and like showgirls in a theatre, there are men waiting outside. Luisa is accosted by CESAR ROMERO but manages to get rid of him by saying she is married and running after Detlaff and taking his arm.
Though puzzled, Detlaff takes her for a beer and she tells him her story. He invites her to a party at his hotel the following night. (He’s a waiter).
At the party Luisa is again overwhelmed , this time by the swish society people she sees. Detlaff tries to keep an eye on her, telling her to mingle.
She is approached by rich business man, Konrad (FRANK MORGAN) who takes a shine to her and invites her into a private dining room. There is some funny business as Detlaff tries to dissuade him from choosing anything on the menu.
Luisa uses the same excuse again, telling Konrad she is married. But that doesnt put him off. He offers to make her husband rich and Luisa thinks it would be a good idea ,so she picks a lawyer out of the phone book! She hopes he is poor so she can be his good fairy .
Then we meet Max ( HERBERT MARSHALL) who is indeed a poor lawyer.
The story is wrapped up after Max and Konrad forgive Luisa for the deception. Konrad employs Max as one of his lawyers and Max and Luisa get married at the orphanage.
Personally, I would have preferred the story to stay linked to that magnificent cinema. Alan Hale and Beulah Bondi disappear in the first 20 minutes of the film. I can only take so much of Frank Morgan’s fluttery,nervous laugh and I’m still not a fan of Herbert Marshall.
I very much liked Margaret Sullavan and Reginald Owen.
PRESTON STURGES wrote the screenplay and WILLIAM WYLER directed. Both would have great careers ahead of them.
And a pleasure to see such a fine print of this 80 year old film.
A wonderful shot below when Luisa tries on a fox fur and sees herself reflected in a receding mirror .
Margaret is in pigtails at the start of the film before leaving the orphanage .
Wyler and Sullavan married shortly after this film.
All the advertising for the film features Margaret in her uniform,though she only wears it in one scene at the start of the film.