HAPPIEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE, THE (director/writer: Frank Launder; screenwriter: play by John Dighton; cinematographer: Stan Pavey; editor: Oswald Hafenrichter; music: Mischa Spoliansky; cast: Alastair Sim (Wetherby Pond); Margaret Rutherford (Miss Muriel Whitchurch); Joyce Grenfell (Miss Gossage); Edward Rigby (Rainbow); Richard Wattis (Arnold Billings), Bernadette O’Farrell (Miss Harper), John Bentley (Richard Tassell), Guy Middleton (Victor Hyde-Brown), Muriel Aked (Miss Jezzard), Percy Walsh (Monsieur Joue), Gladys Henson (Mrs. Hampstead, school housekeeper), John Turnbull (Conrad Matthews), Arthur Howard (Anthony Ramsden); Runtime: 79; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Frank Launder/Sidney Gilliat/Stephen Harrison; Studio Canal (PAL DVD format); 1950-UK)
“A first-class postwar farce, with Margaret Rutherford and Alastair Sim in fine form as rival school principals.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A very funny classic British comedy. A first-class postwar farce, with Margaret Rutherford and Alastair Sim in fine form as rival school principals butting heads to see who is in charge. Acclaimed director Frank Launder (“Millions Like Us”/”Captain Boycott”/”The Belles of St. Trinian’s”)successfullyadapts it to the screen from the play by John Dighton, and manages to squeeze out every laugh he can get from a civil service educational ministry bureaucratic snafu that sends a girls’ prep school, St. Swithin, toNutbourne College, an old established, all-boys, boarding school. Chaos such as that was caused sometime by the Blitz during World War II, where without adequate warning schools were randomly shipped to different locations.
Stuffy headmaster Wetherby Pond (Alastair Sim) and pushy headmistress Muriel Whitchurch (Margaret Rutherford) initially hate each other when faced with sharing the same school due to the bungle, but when the Ministry of Education after six days is unable to correct the mix-up the two authoritarian school heads come together to scheme on how to fool both the visiting parents of St. Swithin that all’s well at the girls’ school and to ensure the visiting trustees of a big-name prep school that Pond is warranted a promotion if it can be verified that all is well at the boys’ school. Pond is expecting to be hired by the more prestigous school and can’t afford any mess ups, while Whitchurch is afraid displeased parents would remove their children and say bad things about the school. So when the visits coincide, the success of the scheme depends on the co-operation of the faculty and students of both sexes to fool the visitors into not noticing the school has suddenly gone co-ed.
Joyce Grenfell is a scream playing the eccentric Miss Gossage, a gym teacher for the all-girls school who tells the men teachers to “call me Sausage.”
REVIEWED ON 3/13/2012 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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