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Happy Go Lovely (1951), the first musical film made in Britain following World War II, was an Anglo-American production set at a film festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. The story revolves around a misunderstanding involving a Scottish millionaire (David Niven) and a young American dancer (Vera-Ellen) who hitches a ride in his limousine. She mistakes him for a reporter and, in turn, becomes the sensation of the festival when rumors fly about a romance. Kay Kendall, a couple of years away from film stardom, has a brief role as a secretary. The movie was independently produced and released in the U.S. by RKO Radio Pictures.
The movie was unusual in that it is tailored specifically to the talents of vivacious Vera-Ellen, although she is second-billed to Niven. The lissome dancer-actress had appeared in films for Samuel Goldwyn and MGM in the capacity of leading lady to such stars as Danny Kaye, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, and was often showcased to brilliant effect in the musical numbers. Unfortunately, she never quite emerged as a star in her own right.
An accomplished ballerina who had been a Radio City Music Hall Rockette and a Broadway dancer before entering films, Vera-Ellen also was an engaging actress who had a deft way with a comedy line. Biographer David Soren wrote of her performance in Happy Go Lovely that "She makes her role believably sweet rather than frantic or simply comedic. Vera-Ellen has the chance to show herself as a talented romantic comedienne and generates real chemistry with Niven....For once, the producer has been willing to respect her talent and give her a chance to display her burgeoning dramatic skills, and Val Guest's witty script makes the most of the ridiculous mistaken identity plot and generates real laughs."
Producer: Marcel Hellman
Director: Bruce Humberstone
Screenplay: Val Guest
Cinematography: Erwin Hillier
Art Direction: John Howell
Editing: Bert Bates
Original Music: Mischa Spoliansky
Costume Design: Anna Duse
Principal Cast: David Niven (B.G. Bruno), Vera-Ellen (Janet Jones), Cesar Romero (John Frost), Bobby Howes (Charlie), Diane Hart (Mae), Gordon Jackson (Paul Tracy).
by Roger Fristoe