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Joy of Living

Joy of Living (1938) starring Irene Dunne, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Alice Brady, Guy Kibbee, Lucille Ball Warren Hymer

Synopsis of Joy of Living

Hard-working and successful Broadway star Maggie Garret (Irene Dunne) is not only emotionally and financially drained by her parasitic family (Alice Brady, Guy Kibbee, Lucille Ball and Warren Hymer) but lately traced by ship-owner Dan Brewster (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.). His efforts to gain her attention are unappreciated by Margaret, and she has him arrested. At last, they end up at court and to rescue Dan from a six-monthI prison sentence – Margaret had something more mild in mind – she agrees to serve as his probation officer. …Joy of Living

Review of Joy of Living

In short, Joy of Living is a very enjoyable romantic comedy.  Performances throughout are very good.  Irene Dunne is the overworked, straitlaced Maggie shines in her role as she begins to enjoy life for the first time.  Douglas Fairbanks Jr. also does very well as the handsome would-be suitor who won’t take “no” for an answer.  The secondary characters also do well, including a young Lucille Ball as Margaret’s younger sister and understudy.  Guy Kibbee also shines as the lazy father who “sacrificed everything” for Margaret’s career.  And to sponge off her ceaselessly, along with the rest of the family.  Great film clown Billy Gilbert also has a short, but a very funny appearance in the bar scene.

The movie comes to a head at the very conclusion, after the two lovebirds have gotten married – and the family objects.  Margaret nearly lets her loyalty to her family override her love for her husband.  Nearly.  Until the family pushes too far, and the film ends with a happy — and funny — conclusion.  I enjoyed Joy of Living and strongly recommend it.

Cast of characters in Joy of Living

  • Maggie Garret (Irene DunnePenny Serenade).  The talented star, singer and dancer.  Who’s overworked, unappreciated by her family, and living a joyless life.  Until she meets Dan.
  • Dan Brewster (Douglas Fairbanks Jr., The Young in Heart).  Young, rich, carefree … and alone.  A young man who becomes infatuated with Maggie, only to fall in love with her.  And to care for her, and about her.  And to want her to be truly happy.
  • Minerva Garret (Alice BradyMy Man Godfrey).  Maggie’s mother, a somewhat comedic character – who leaches off Maggie, despite loving her.
  • Dennis Garret (Guy Kibbee, Whistling in Dixie).  Maggie’s father, a former actor who “sacrificed everything” for Maggie’s career.  As her reminds her again, and again.  A comedic character, well-played by Guy Kibbee.
  • Salina Pine (Lucille BallI Love Lucy).  Maggie’s younger sister, understudy, and sponge.  She has a telling moment toward the end of the movie when she’s told that she’s going to take Maggie’s place on stage.  “Do you expect me to support this family of leeches?

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