The Good Fairy

97 minutes 2013

Director William Wyler strays into Lubitsch territory early in his Hollywood career with this 1935 adaptation of Ferenc Molnar's farce about a naive young woman who wreaks havoc with her good deeds. Margaret Sullavan is the title character, a cinema usherette who fends off a playboy industrialist (Frank Morgan) by asking him to help out her "husband," a downtrodden lawyer (Herbert Marshall) whose name she picks out of a phone book. Much of the comedy hinges on misunderstandings and thwarted seduction, and it's enlivened by scriptwriter Preston Sturges's wicked sophistication and sardonic digs at class pretensions. Wyler's direction is stage bound, and Molnar's notion of courtship may seem quaint. But Morgan's good-natured lecher is a hoot, and Sullavan's blend of determination and vulnerability is incandescent.

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