The Good Fairy: My Favorite Classic Movie
When asked “What is your favorite old movie?.” I usually answer “I don’t have one.” since there are many to choose from and my mood changes, however if hard-pressed for an answer, The Good Fairy is hands down my favorite.
I have seen it alone, with friends, on DVD, youtube and luckily on 35mm at Film Forum movie house in NYC , where in the movie line, I told the woman in front of me that it’s my favorite. She replied “Mine too. I skipped work to come here. ” My red-headed friend who accompanied me fell in love with the star, Margaret Sullavan, and adored the film. It is such a sweet feel good movie. Firstly it has a stellar ensemble cast including Margaret Sullavan, Herbert Marshall, Frank Morgan, Eric Blore, Reginald Owen, Beulah Bondi, Alan Hale, and Cesar Romero. Did I forget anyone? Directed by William Wyler. Screenplay by Preston Sturges based on a Ferenc Molnar play, The dialogue is great, it’s funny and overall just full of love. The characters just want to help someone else. They want to do a good deed.
It all starts when Alan Hale’s character, Maurice Schlapkohl goes to an orphanage to give a girl a job opportunity at a movie theatre in Budapest. Sullavan plays a naive orphan named Luisa Ginglebusher, who is thrown into a city of amorous men who prey on her innocent pretty charm. Frank Morgan portrays Konrad, an older mountain lion who wants her. Albeit an innocent lamb in the big city of Budapest, Luisa wises up to Konrad’s less than honorable intentions. To distance him, Margaret pretends she’s married to a poor lawyer. She randomly picks one named Dr. Max Sporum (played by Herbert Marshall) from the phonebook who, fortunately, is poor.
Detlaff, the Waiter played by Reginald Owen tries to protect Luisa from Konrad. He was the one who inadvertently introduced them by bringing her into an upscale party where he was waiting tables. He knows she’s naive, new to the real world after having lived in a sheltered orphanage, and feels a sense of duty towards her.
Since Konrad can’t have a married Luisa he decides he will better her life by bettering her “husband’s” life offering him a job and a good salary. Luisa finds this is a chance to do a good deed for someone through Konrad’s wealth. While Konrad’s intentions are selfish as he really wants to be Luisa’s sugar daddy and send her husband off to South America, he’s still doing a good deed for both Luisa and Sporum. In the end after Luisa and Sporum fall in love, Konrad continues with the good deed despite knowing Sullavan won’t be his.
I have eclectic tastes in movies enjoying the gamut from drama, musicals, comedy, camp, exploitation. I do not consider one genre superior to another however I do consider a film superior if it can make me feel. Despite its sophisticated talent and writing, The Good Fairy may not seem like a superior movie because of its fun, light and improbable plot. Traditionally “great” movies tend to be drama but The Good Fairy has a serious message. While not heavy like classics Sunset Boulevard or The Best Years of Our Lives, it nonetheless is profound in it’s humanity. Being good to others feels good. It’s a powerful movie because it makes one feel love and want to give love with a big smile.