Entertainment » Movies

The Good Fairy

by Sam Cohen
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jan 14, 2020
The Good Fairy

In 1935, actress Margaret Sullavan was one of the most popular performers in all of Hollywood. Every picture she made drew audiences and a lot of her films were big hits. On the other side of the camera, William Wyler was also popular and Preston Sturges was writing scripts before making his feature directorial debut in 1940 with "The Great McGinty."

What's so striking about "The Good Fairy" is how the film might have been handled if Sturges directed it himself. Wyler wasn't the kind of filmmaker that knew how to film scenes where quick, fast-witted dialogue was the thrust. And although Sullavan and her co-star Frank Morgan were a delight to see trade barbs, the film was only modestly received by critics. With a stunning new 4K master and Blu-ray from Kino Lorber, you can see Sturges' dialogue struggling to find the right presentation, although this is still an entertaining film and a great showcase for the performers' talents.

When a brash movie theater owner in Hungary looks to a local orphanage to find well-behaved usherettes for his wealthy clientele, young Luisa Ginglebusher (Sullavan) seems like the perfect person for the job. She's naïve about the state of the world and lives her life wanting to do good. That morality is put to the test when she's pursued by a meatpacking millionaire by the name of Konrad (Morgan). She then picks a name out of a phone book and says that's her husband. Her faux suitor, Dr. Max Sporum (Herbert Marshall), is also a person of great morals and little money. Luisa's decision to enact this ruse sets in motion events that will change her and Max's life forever. But how long can the ruse work?

So, a little background about the production. At this time, Sullavan and Wyler were arguing frequently on set and delaying production so often that Sturges and Wyler were kicked off the payroll. The Hays Office even approved the production to start filming even before the script was finished, so their involvement down the line would cause even more complications. The film did end up being finished, then Wyler and Sullavan whisked away to Yuma, Arizona, to get eloped. Such an odd turn of events given the troubles.

Despite all those obstacles, the film is a really good showcase of Sullavan's many acting talents. Although she was in her 20s at the time of filming, she exudes such a genuine and childish naivety that would go on to define many of her other roles. Then there's Frank Morgan, who had the immaculate capability of playing boorish with a heart. While his intentions with Luisa start out sexual, you can see his character develop an almost spiritual love for her purity.

Being from 1935, you can expect "The Good Fairy" to have nicks and bumps in the video presentation. It never draws away from the story, though, and the audio is crystal clear. Sturge's dialogue is like music to the ears, and this film is no exception to the fact. Plus, there's a terrific audio commentary with film critic and author Simon Abrams on the Blu-ray that really goes deep on historical context. I highly recommend this release to fans of Sturges and Sullavan. Other special features include:

• Theatrical trailer

"The Good Fairy"
Kino Lorber Blu-ray

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