Reportedly the last feature to be personally shepherded by Walt Disney himself, The Happiest Millionaire is a stubbornly old-fashioned musical intended to build on the success of Mary Poppins, relying on songs and score fr... more »om Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, the studio's resident songwriting team responsible for the hits of Poppins. Despite that pedigree, and a cast headlined by Fred MacMurray, Greer Garson, Tommy Steele, Geraldine Page, and, in their screen debuts, Lesley Anne Warren and John Davidson, the would-be successor wound up a white elephant. Released in 1967, a watershed year for youth culture and social upheaval, The Happiest Millionaire romanticizes Philadelphia's upper crust circa 1916. Its title character, Anthony J. Drexel Biddle (MacMurray), is a militant industrialist urging America's mobilization against Germany, and noteworthy for an eccentric lifestyle that includes his own bible study classes, martial arts training, and (in a lone nod toward any remotely modern social values) a readiness to empower his lovely, headstrong daughter, Cordelia (Warren). Under Norman Tokar's busy but routine direction, the project does muster moments of charm, and packs its story line with enough twists to partly explain its excessive 144-minute length. But the unintended irony of paeans to capitalism and conservative politics in an era of Sgt. Pepper isn't masked by the Shermans' music, which is eminently forgettable, despite the game mugging of Tommy Steele as an immigrant Irish butler. Equally game is MacMurray, but as a singer, he's no Rex Harrison. Viewers hungry for a family musical with bright production values may be more forgiving. For the film's most ardent fans, Anchor Bay has also released an even longer, widescreen "Road Show" edition of the first-run theatrical version, clocking in at 164 minutes. --Sam Sutherland« less
"A carefree millionaire(Disney Style), played by Fred MacMurray, lives life his own way, sometimes bordering on Addams Family-esque habits, such as keeping Alligators as pets and going on a chocolate cake diet! With his two sons soon to leave for school, he is disturbed to find that his only daughter is now engaged and will be out of his life too. The story is told somewhat from the cheerful Irish butler's musical point of view. Tommy Steele portrays the butler and steals the show! The film is great traditional Disney fun!
I fell in love with non-roadshow version of Happiest Millionaire a few years ago when seeing it on the Disney Channel, and it has since become one of my all time favorite films. Then, I found out there was a roadshow version, and, when I started switching from VHS to DVD a year or so ago, I decided to order both versions from Amazon. I recommend fans of the shorter version do what I did and buy both the shorter one AND this roadshow version. Why? Well, I felt they were so different! I knew I loved the shorter version, so I HAD to see the Roadshow version! It's just a matter of one having more scenes than the other, but the shorter version is simpler, one you'd watch with your kids, and the longer (Roadshow) version is the more grown-up version. Sometimes, you just want to watch the simple, happy, short version, and sometimes you want to watch the real deal. I don't know, but I LOVE them both, but when you started out with the short version, it just won't do to only have the Roadshow."
Disney at its best!
Dorothyanne | Victorville, CA USA | 11/17/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have the belief that Disney is going down the tubes now days. With movies such as "Hocus Pocus", and "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and the deeply disappointing movies such as "Pocahontas" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (one that should not have been made at all from my point of veiw, and not fit for children), Disney is very disappointing. THe Happiest Millionaire is just one of those great movies made when movies were kept clean. There is no need of foul language or sex in this movie, you don't even miss them. Tommy Steele was great in this movie, he was witty, funny and charming. Fred MacMurray played the part well, and the paring of Leslie Ann Warren with John Davidson was brilliant. They were just right for the parts, and did them well. Gladys Cooper as the matriarch Aunt Mary, and Geraldine Page as the pompous Mrs. Duke were hilarious in the their duet song "There are Those". The songs in the movie are easy to remember, and fun to listen to. This in one movie (of many, believe me) that my mom and I like to watch together. I believe that you'll recognize Hermione Baddeley as Mrs. Worth, who, when Mr. Drexel Biddle told her "I could be dying!", replied with out batting an eye, "Indeed you could." (Baddeley played the maid who was always fighting with the cook in Mary Poppins.) This movie is one of a kind, and entirely true, based on the book, My Philadelphia Father, by Cordelia Drexel Biddel."
An Unusual Find
Priscilla Smith | West Plains, MO | 09/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How often do you find a millionaire that is actually happy? Well, Fred MacMurray shows that if you can be yourself, regardless of your money, then you can be happy.
I watched this movie as a child, but haven't seen it for years. I was so thrilled to rediscover it here, and be able to buy it for my little girl. As the first scene began, I found myself singing along to songs that I didn't know I remembered.
If you want to introduce your young children (the younger the better) to some old classic musicals, you should start with this one (and Mary Poppins). The wit and charm of these old classic movies is definately lacking in todays world of film.
All in all, this movie is hilarious, well cast, well written, and fun."
Wonderful Family Film
Mary Liz Aldridge | 12/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film has been MY favorite since third grade (I'm 27). It is wonderfully fun and uplifting with Great singing and dancing. In a world where cartoons can scare kids, my three-year-old loves this film. It may be long, but with all the songs, it makes for a fast watch. Also the story is simple enough that children can turn it off one day and watch more the next."
Delightful Disney musical
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 03/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fred MacMurray, Tommy Steele, Lesley Ann Warren and John Davidson star in the classic Disney musical THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE, a delightful story centering on the Biddle family of Philadelphia.Cordy Biddle (Lesley Ann Warren) becomes engaged to Angie Duke (John Davidson). When this should be a happy occasion, Angie's snooty mother (Geraldine Page) still ensures that Angie hangs onto her apron strings. Cordy's mother (Greer Garson) tries to sort things out while Aunt Mary (Gladys Cooper) engages in some bitchy repartee with Mrs Duke!The entire production is flawless, and while Leonard Maltin has criticised this film for being too long, I think the time flies by.The Sherman brothers songs are strong throughout, and the supporting cast, including a very young Joyce Bulifant, are wonderful.Highly recommended."