Gift Guide

Happiest Millionaire

( 5 )


Adapted from the book and play of the same name, The Happiest Millionaire is the (mostly) true story of eccentric Philadelphia millionaire Anthony J. Drexel Biddle (Fred MacMurray). The Biddle mansion is the gathering place for a pugilistic boxing class, pet alligators and would-be opera singers. Cordelia Biddle (Lesley Ann Warren), the daughter of Anthony and his wife (Greer Garson), wants to marry wealthy and handsome Angie Duke (John Davidson), but Angie's parents are shocked by the Biddles' freewheeling ...
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Adapted from the book and play of the same name, The Happiest Millionaire is the (mostly) true story of eccentric Philadelphia millionaire Anthony J. Drexel Biddle (Fred MacMurray). The Biddle mansion is the gathering place for a pugilistic boxing class, pet alligators and would-be opera singers. Cordelia Biddle (Lesley Ann Warren), the daughter of Anthony and his wife (Greer Garson), wants to marry wealthy and handsome Angie Duke (John Davidson), but Angie's parents are shocked by the Biddles' freewheeling lifestyle. Thanks in part to the ebullient intervention of John Lawless (Tommy Steele), the Biddles' butler, all misunderstandings are eventually swept away. Like Disney's previous Mary Poppins, The Happiest Millionaire is decked out with a vibrant musical score by Richard and Robert Sherman, but the magic is somehow lacking this time around. This was the last live-action film to personally supervised by Walt Disney; released several months after Disney's death, the film was made available in 141-minute and 164-minute versions.
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Special Features

Full frame presentation
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
On paper, The Happiest Millionaire must have seemed like a sure-fire musical hit in the profitable Mary Poppins vein. The score was by the Poppins boys, the milieu was populated by servants and their employees, and the cast included talented, appealing performers, both fresh-faced and veteran. Unfortunately, Millionaire onscreen lacks the charm and (more importantly) the focus of its predecessor. Norman Tokar's direction is workmanlike but uninspired; the musical numbers generally come off okay, but "okay" is not enough when fireworks are called for. The pacing is also a problem, although how problematic depends upon which of the three versions one is watching: the 118-minute version is entirely too choppy, while the 164-minute version drags unbearably. The 141-minute version is probably the best, although it too is a little long. The score is fine, with "Fortuosity" very engaging, but it's not good enough to cover the flaws in the screenplay and direction. Tommy Steele is quite good, obviously more comfortable here than when he had to carry an entire movie, as in Half a Sixpence, and Fred MacMurray is fine, if a bit too low key in places. Lesley Ann Warren makes an auspicious and appealing debut, and Geraldine Page comes close to stealing every scene she's in. Millionaire is perfectly acceptable family entertainment but nothing more.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/20/1999
  • UPC: 013131082890
  • Original Release: 1967
  • Rating:

  • Source: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Dolby 5.1 / Stereo
  • Sound: Dolby Digital, stereo
  • Language: English
  • Time: 2:24:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Fred MacMurray Anthony J. Drexel Biddle
Tommy Steele John Lawless
Greer Garson Mrs. Cordelia Biddle
Geraldine Page Mrs. Duke
Gladys Cooper Aunt Mary Drexel
Hermione Baddeley Mrs. Worth
Lesley Ann Warren Miss Cordelia (Cordy) Biddle
John Davidson Angie Duke
Joyce Bulifant Rosemary
Sean McClory Sgt. Flanagan
William Wellman Jr. Lt. Grayson
Jim McMullan Lt. Powell
Aron Kincaid Walter Blakely
Larry Merrill Charlie Taylor
Frances Robinson Aunt Gladys
Joan Marshall Maid
Paul Petersen Tony Biddle
Eddie Hodges Livingston Biddle
Norman Grabowski Joe Turner
Technical Credits
Norman Tokar Director
Bill Anderson Co-producer
Marc Breaux Choreography
Paul Cameron Asst. Director
A.J. Carothers Screenwriter
Carroll Clark Art Director
Edward Colman Cinematographer
Robert O. Cook Sound/Sound Designer
Walt Disney Producer
Peter Ellenshaw Special Effects
Jack Elliott Musical Direction/Supervision
John D. Jefferies Sr. Set Decoration/Design
Emile Kuri Set Decoration/Design
Eustace Lycett Special Effects
John Mansbridge Art Director
Frank R. McKelvey Set Decoration/Design
Richard M. Sherman Score Composer, Songwriter
Robert B. Sherman Score Composer, Songwriter
Bill Thomas Costumes/Costume Designer
Dean Thomas Sound/Sound Designer
Cotton Warburton Editor
Dee Dee Wood Choreography
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Chapter Selection
1. Program Start [:05]
2. Opening Credits [2:38]
3. "Fortuosity" [7:16]
4. "What's Wrong With That?" [4:50]
5. "Dynamite Up Her Sleeve" [5:12]
6. Miss Cordelia Drexel Biddle [3:18]
7. Aunt Mary [12:08]
8. John Meets George [1:44]
9. "I'll Always Be Irish!" [5:32]
10. "By Um, Pum, Pum" [6:33]
11. The Thaw Party [5:02]
12. "Are We Dancing?" [6:51]
13. Boxing the Marines [6:31]
14. "Detroit" [5:09]
15. Gators on Ice [1:40]
16. Alligator Suprise [7:49]
17. Dinner and Jujitsu [8:27]
18. Duke Society [11:39]
19. A Biddle Garden Party [6:14]
20. "There Are Those" [:06]
21. "Let's Have a Drink" [6:23]
22. The Day After [9:31]
23. The Jail House [10:41]
24. End Credits [3:18]
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Side #1 --
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Misses the Magic

    Here is a movie that almost makes it...The cast is fine, the songs are pleasant, the settings are gorgeous, and it is all slightly amusing. But nothing really happens....for three hours. The second half is given a lift by Geraldine Page's comic turn as the grand 'smother-in-law'. There is no commentary track here, but leads Warren and Davidson discuss this film in their commentary track in ONE AND ONLY GENUINE ORIGINAL FAMILY BAND

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Good fun

    "The Happiest Millionaire" is no "Mary Poppins",but it's not "Camelot",either. It IS a lightweight,well-made,enjoyable musical comedy that provides the viewer with an evening of good fun.It has a beautiful production,a spirited cast,and a nice Sherman brothers score(The best songs are the lovely "It Won't Be Long 'Till Christmas" and "Are We Dancing?").Fred MacMurray,Greer Garson,Lesley Ann Warren, and Geraldine Page are delightful.John Davidson is OK.But Tommy Steele and Gladys Cooper absolutely steal the movie.It's a lot of fun to watch.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Typical Disney-fare in an Atypically Disappointing Transfer!

    Walt Disney¿s was a visionary film pioneer; he took the fledgling craft of animation and transformed it into an art form of the highest order, and, in the process, altered our collective perception of what childhood is all about. However, occasionally that vision was marred by Disney¿s own lack of foresight into changing audience tastes. By the end of the 1950s the Walt Disney Studios had incurred huge expenses on Disney¿s foray into live action films, the birth of his theme park ¿ Disneyland ¿ and the lack luster box office response to his most recent and most expensive animated feature ¿ Sleeping Beauty. Though the old master was set to recoup his losses, the sumptuously mounted, though often dismal, The Happiest Millionaire (released the year after Disney's death) was the personal and financial failure that rounded out Disney¿s tenure as the mogul of one of Hollywood¿s great cinema dream factories. Throughout the 1950s and 60s road show engagements for movies of distinction were quite common. Road shows were designed to elevate movies to the lofty ambitions of live theater. They usually began with a lush orchestrated prelude, included an intermission half way through, and exit music to escort audiences out of the theater after the final credit sequence. One often dressed up for this sort of premiere event, certainly paid extra to attend and was often provided with a printed program as a keep sake from the occasion. Disney had attempted the road show only once before, on Fantasia (1940) and the result had been an unqualified financial disaster. What a pity then, that The Happiest Millionaire - what should have been an eighty-minute tune-filled ¿ if antiseptic and sexless - melodrama, is over inflated into a gargantuan three hours spectacle that, quite simply, fails to dazzle. The plot is a fictionalized account of real life circumstances that concern an eccentric Philadelphia millionaire, Anthony J. Drexel Biddle (Fred MacMurray). He runs a combination Bible and physical fitness college of sorts, loves boxing and keeps alligators in a solarium adjacent his dining room. When immigrant John Lawless (Tommy Steele) becomes Biddle's new butler he does indeed find his new surroundings rather odd. Not that Lawless isn¿t odd himself ¿ it¿s just that, unlike Biddle¿s quirkiness, which can be grating to the point of distraction, Lawless becomes a genuinely loveable reprobate of congenial good humor, thanks to Tommy Steele¿s remarkable performance. The plot is thread bare to the point of nonexistent. It concerns Biddle¿s only daughter, Cordelia (Lesley Ann Warren). She¿s a sort of tomboy desperate to be feminine and sent off to a lady¿s finishing school where she meets and becomes engaged to New Yorker Angie Duke (John Davidson). Mrs. Duke (Geraldine Page) is social snob but Angie doesn't share her values. He wants to forgo the family business and build automobiles in Detroit. True to Disney form, everything does indeed work out in the end with Angie and Cordelia driving off toward an unintentionally apocalyptic matte painting that depicts the Motor City as something of a cross between Blade Runner and Mary Poppins, a glowering jungle of towering chimneys blackening the skies with the aftershocks of modernity. Plot construction is problematic; As Cordelia¿s mother, Greer Garson is given extremely little to do. One of Disney¿s good luck charms - Hemione Baddeley has even less of a say. Equally curious is the fact that after the film takes great pains to introduce the Biddle two sons Tony and Livingston (Paul Petersen and Eddie Hodges) ¿ even giving them a song ¿ it suddenly loses interest in their character development by sending them off to school where, as an audience, we forget that they ever existed. Of course, the plot ¿ such as it is ¿ would be largely forgivable if Disney¿s resident song writers, the Sherman Brothers had come up with a score worthy of their best endeavors. Tommy Steele opens the show with a bang wit

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A refulgent movie!

    I have loved this movie for years! I watched it over and over when I was just a little girl. I watched it so much that I wore out the video, and the several after that that my parents purchased! I was thrilled when it came out again a few years ago, and on DVD! Now I have two copies in my own home! VHS and DVD! So I will never be without it again! The Happiest Millionaire is a great family movie that everyone will enjoy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    One of the best all time little known movies

    This movie draws you in keeping you atuned as you follow the trials of Cordie trying to grow up and become a woman. Set in the WW I period, the music for this movie is fabulous!

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews