The Good Fairy (as part of the “Glamour Girls” DVD Box Set) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

June 1, 2011 by  

Charming, fun and absolutely delightful!  Margaret Sullavan shines in William Wyler’s “The Good fairy”.  A worthy addition to Kino’s “Glamour Girls” DVD Box Set!

Images courtesy of ©2002 Kino Intl. Inc. All rights reserved.

DVD TITLE: The Good Fairy


DURATION: 97 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: B & W, Full Frame (1:33:1)

COMPANY: Kino Video



Directed by William Wyler

Based on the Ferenc Molnar Play “A jo tunder”

English Translation of Play by Jane Hinton

Written by Preston Sturges

Produced by Carl Laemmle Jr.

Associate Producer: Henry Henigson

Music by Heinz Roemheld

Cinematography by Norbert Brodine

Edited by Daniel Mandell

Art Direction by Charles D. Hall

Costume Design by Vera West


Margaret Sullavan as Luisa “Lu” Ginglebuscher

Herbert Marshall as Dr. Max Sporum

Frank Morgan as Konrad

Reginald Owen as Detlaff, the Waiter

Eric Blore as Dr. Metz

Beulah Bondi as Dr. Schultz

Alan Hale as Maurice Schlapkohl

Cesar Romero as Joe

Luis Alberni as the Barber

June Clayworth as Mitzi (on-screen actress)

From director William Wyler (Wuthering Heights, Counsellor at Law, The Love Trap) comes a buoyant romantic fable laced with clever wordplay and ribald comedy, written by legendary screenwriter Preston Sturges (Sullivan’s Travels).

When a brash movie theater owner needs usherettes for his Budapest cinema, he recruits young Luisa Ginglebusher (Margaret Sullavan) from a nearby orphanage. Encouraged by her kindly guardian (Beulah Bondi) to “spread your wings,” Lu naïvely embarks on her quest to live the life of a fairy tale angel. Quickly encountering the debonair wolves that roam the sidewalks of Hungary, Lu randomly chooses a man to play the role of her husband: Dr. Max Sporum, a humble and idealistic lawyer (Herbert Marshall).

As Lu’s simple ruse grows hopelessly complicated, the dreamy-eyed girl refuses to abandon the charade, determined to evade one suitor’s wily grasp (Frank Morgan), provide Max the prosperity he so deserves, and allow the opportunity for true love to enter her life.

Charming, fun and absolutely delightful!  Margaret Sullavan shines in William Wyler’s “The Good fairy”.  A worthy addition to Kino’s “Glamour Girls” DVD Box Set!

“The Good Fairy” remains a classic film for fans of Preston Sturges and William Wyler’s work, as well as those who are fans of Margaret Sullavan and Herbert Marshall.

The film would be one of Sturges’ early works preceding hits such as “The Great McGinty”, “The Lady Eve” and “Sullivan’s Travels” and for filmmaker William Wyler, “The Good Fairy” would be one of the many string of hits for the director who would go on to direct “Jezebel”, “Wuthering Heights”, “The Best Years of Our Lives”, “Roman Holiday”, “Ben-Hur”, “Funny Girl” to name a few.

“The Good Fairy” was Sturges onscreen adaptation of the Molnar play “A jó tündér and the film was tailored by Sturges for actress Margaret Sullavan, a Broadway actress who had just made two films prior and would eventually gain recognition from this film and would later star in hits alongside Jimmy Stewart in “The Shopworn Angel”, “The Shop Around the Corner” and “The Mortal Storm”.

Although not a comedienne, for Sullavan, it was a chance to show her diversity as an actress and being the serious actress that she was, she and director William Wyler would clash on set but yet somehow, during the filming of the movie, the two fell in love and before the movie was even completed, both Wyler and Sullavan were married.

The film would receive its theatrical debut in February 1935 through Universal Pictures and for many film critics, the film is considered a classic romantic comedy.

The DVD of this film is currently available from Kino Video by itself or as part of their “Glamour Girls” DVD box set featuring five movies featuring Sullavan, Ava Gardner, Marlene Dietrich, Lucille Ball and Jeanette Macdonald.

“The Good Fairy” begins in an asylum (note: Not mental asylum but an orphanage)  in Budapest where Luisa “Lu” Ginglebuscher (played by Margaret Sullavan) is the oldest person at the Asylum who tends to entertain the other children with her stories.  One day, an owner of a movie palace visits the orphanage to find an orphan who can be an usherette at movie theater.

Because of Luisa’s antics, she often gets in trouble and of all days to get in trouble, she is caught breaking dishes (accidentally) and catching the attention of the theater owner.  Luisa is instantly hired and begins working as an usherette and where she meets Detlaff (played by Reginald Owen) for the first time.

The two somewhat clash during Luisa’s first day on the job but for Luisa, this new life is still better than what she had at the orphanage.  While leaving work, she is hit on by a man who wants to take her out.  Scared and not knowing what to do or say, she comes up with an idea to pretend that Detlaff is her husband and manages to get away from the guy who bothered her.

As Detlaff takes Luisa out to a club, he feels sorry for her when he finds out that she is from the asylum and really doesn’t have a clue about life.  So, since Detlaff is a waiter, he invites her to a high class party and tells her to dress up nicely but not to talk so much and draw attention.  All Detlaff would like for Luisa to do is experience the party.

But as soon as Detlaff gets back to work, Luisa is hit on by Konrad (played by Frank Morgan), a meat-packing millionaire who very much is smitten with Luisa.   As Konrad is very strong (and also much older) in terms of how he talks to women,  once again, in fear Luisa uses the “I’m married” routine to try to get out of it.  But instead of escaping from Konrad, Konrad wants to meet her husband and also share his wealth with him.

Shocked by this, Luisa who is caught up with her lie of being married, randomly picks out a name from the phone book and  the lucky man is a poor doctor named Max Sporum (played by Herbert Marshall).  Konrad offers him a 5-year contract and Max has no idea why Konrad is interested in him but thinks it’s because of his ethnics, hard work and integrity. But for Luisa, she just wants to be “the good fairy” and do something positive for someone in need but using Konrad’s wealth to make it happen, so she continues her lie of being married to Max.

Meanwhile, for Konrad, he sees this as an opportunity to get closer to Luisa as he intends to ship Max (who Konrad thinks is Luisa’s husband) to South America, so Max would not be in the way of him trying to get some alone time with her.

But what happens when Luisa meets Max and with Konrad hot for Luisa’s attention, Detlaff also feels he needs to do something about it.

What will happen to these four individuals?


“The Good Fairy” is an older release from Kino Video (from 2002) but the picture quality for the film is actually pretty good considering it’s nearly 80-years-old.  The print was surprisingly good and noticed no flickering or major scratches that prevented my enjoyment of the film.  It was a very good print and I was pleased with that.

As for the audio, audio is monaural and for the most part, audio is clear.


“The Good Fairy” comes with the following special features:

  • Trailer – (2:44) The original theatrical trailer for “The Good Fairy”
  • A Galler of Rare Personal Photographs from the William Wyler Estate –  Private photos of William Wyler, Margaret Sullavan and friends. Photos can be moved by using your remote or keyboard.

“The Good Fairy” is a fun and hilarious film that really does show that Sullavan can definitely play a comedic role.  Known for her work on Broadway and her two previous films showcasing her acting, “The Good Fairy” puts Sullavan in a role of a pure hearted and very naive individual.

Granted, although Sullavan as an older orphan looks more like a woman in her ’20s versus a woman in her teens (at the time, Sullavan was 24-years-old), once you get past that, its more or less Sullavan stealing the show as her mannerisms in a new location, in the city and how she behaves towards men was quite fun to watch and also very interesting.

And as fun as the film was to watch, it’s hard to believe that behind-the-scenes, there was turmoil.  Sturges, a perfectionist who kept revising his adaptation, Wyler who was frustrated with Universal and also working with Sullavan and of course, somehow during their intense verbal spats, the two manage to fall in love during the making of this film and marry (and their rocky marriage is another story on its own).

But while Wyler, Sturges and Sullavan were major forces of the film, you have to give credit to Herbert Marshall, Frank Morgan and Reginald Owen for their performance.  The three gentlemen who are close with Luisa are opposites, Detlaff is more or less a stuffy individual who feels he must help Luisa, Konrad is the older man who will do all he can to get Luisa and Dr. Max Sporum, the intellectual who has no clue what’s going on and together with Sullavan, they were able to make Sullivan’s character much more appreciated and lively.

I have to admit at first, I was a bit hesitant to watch “The Good Fairy”, mainly because I have read so many things about Margaret Sullavan and her diva-ish attitude as an actress.  From her antics which she did to get her own way on the set, to alienating the director (which both would get in heated arguments before and after their marriage), it’s quite similar to a lot of demanding talent, may they be method actors or egotistical, if they can perform and make us believe they are that character, then you can’t help but respect that talent’s style of acting.  For Sullavan, she definitely carried this film and she would eventually because one of America’s top actresses in the ’30s and early ’40s.

And it is no surprise that among the DVD’s release by Kino Video, that Margaret Sullivan and her film “The Good Fairy” would be included in the “Glamour Girls” DVD Box set and also part of the William Wyler Collection of films released by Kino (along with Wyler’s 1929 film “The Love Trap” and the 1933 film “Counsellor at Law”).

The DVD doesn’t come with a lot of special features but aside from the trailer, you do get personal photos shared by Wyler’s estate included old photos with Wyler and Sullavan together.  But I was quite pleased with the DVD quality for this film as I was expected to see some PQ issues but for the most part, this is a pretty good transfer for a DVD release.

Overall, “The Good Fairy” is definitely a film that is worth checking out (especially if you enjoy romantic comedies) on its own or enjoyed among the other wonderful films included in the “Glamour Girls” DVD box set.

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