One of a number of films from the late '60s and early '70s that looked at the problem of life among the upper class (and especially among the wives therein), The Happy Ending has dated considerably since its initial release. In 1969, it seemed fairly fresh and basically honest; now, it's territory that has been traversed many times before, and an air of manipulation and calculation hangs over the screenplay. Still, if a viewer can overlook the obviousness of many of the situations and dialogue that is trite as often as it is insightful, they can find a number of things worthy of their attention. Chief among these is star Jean Simmons' sterling performance. The actress takes an often annoying character and plays her with admirable honesty. The audience may not always like Mary, but it feels as if it understands her. Simmons, of course, takes advantage of the big set piece scenes that come her way, but she's equally good in the small moments that really flesh out the character. John Forsythe does well with a one-dimensional character, Tina Louise provides bite, and Nanette Fabray supplies some much-needed stability. Oscar-nominated song "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life" is only so-so, but Michel Legrand's score is used effectively.
by Craig Butler review