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The Pursuit of Happiness

The Pursuit of Happiness(1934)

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FULL SYNOPSIS

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At the start of the American Revolution in 1776, King George III of England arranges for ten thousand Hessians from Grand Duke Friedrich II of Hessen-Kassel to fight against the American rebels. Thus, German violinist Max Christmann is drafted against his will. On arrival in America, Max finds a note from General Washington in a pouch of tobacco promising forty acres of land to any Hessian who joins the American rebels in their fight for freedom. Impressed by the fight for independence, Max deserts and hides in the Kirkland barn in Connecticut. He is discovered, but treated well by Comfort and Aaron Kirkland's beautiful daughter, Prudence. Jealous of the presence of the handsome Hessian in his beloved Prudence's home, Thad Jennings wants to imprison Max. However, Colonel Sherwood, who is part of the Virginia Lighthouse and is under orders from General Washington, temporarily gives Max his freedom. In the meantime, Squire Banks, the self-appointed leader of the community, speaks out against bundling, a tradition in which a fully clothed couple courts by sitting in a bed separated by a center board. This long-standing tradition originated in an effort to stay warm without wasting firewood, and as far as the women of the community are concerned, the custom has been maintained with innocence and propriety. While enjoying his freedom, Max is surprised by the restrictions of the Puritan lifestyle, which seem to prevent the pursuit of happiness. This bemusement does not stop him from falling in love with Prudence, however, and she reciprocates his affection. One night she puts a candle in her window as a sign she is ready to receive her suitor. Max sneaks out from his guarded quarters and joins her, delighted with the custom of bundling. They soon are discovered, however, first by Squire Banks, and next by Thad, who presumed the candle in the window was lit for him. While Banks, Thad and Comfort protest the possible union of Prudence and Max, Aaron tries to keep the peace and make sure his daughter will be happy. Colonel Sherwood arrives and orders Thad back to his quarters, and also informs Aaron that he is to be the official recruiter of the town. Aaron's first act is to draft Banks. After Sherwood informs them that Max will be Washington's official interpreter, everyone approves his marriage to Prudence, and the couple embraces.