23 November 2007 | wes-connors
Bobby Driscoll Comes of Age
Bobby Driscoll (as Robert "Bibi" Bonnard) is a teenager "coming of age" in 1920s Ottawa. Mr. Driscoll's uncle, traveling salesman Louis Jourdan (as Desmond Bonnard), is away when the film begins; he enjoys a "playboy" lifestyle, but returns soon, for a visit. Driscoll's father, Charles Boyer (as Jacques Bonnard) appears to have grown out of an extended career of his own, as a "ladies' man"; and his father, randy Marcel Dalio (as Grandpa Bonnard), recognizes "la puberty" is beginning for Driscoll
Everyone in the cast is outstanding; but, "The Happy Time" is, more than anything, Driscoll's film. He more than holds his own, among the distinguished cast. Watching Driscoll perform in this film makes his sudden slide from favor all the more puzzling - he may not have grown up according to the Disney studio's specifications, but few do. As evidenced here, Driscoll should have had a long working career as, if anything, a comedian; "
only one is from the burlesque, the other was obtained privately," he says, arriving at the dinner table wearing garters.
Director Richard Fleischer does Earl Felton's smartly written play justice. The film is full of nice "symbolic" touches - the canary, the girl's braces, and the medals appearing inside more than one of the characters' jackets. While beautifully done, the film's ill-mannered presentation of sex, love, and gender roles seems very queer; probably, the film's themes held significantly more charm in the 1950s. Also worth watching for Kurt Kasznar (repeating his stage role as a possibly alcoholic neighboring uncle), Marsha Hunt (whom Driscoll seems to take after, in looks), Linda Christian (recalling of Eva Gabor), Jimmy Bishop (a young Chuck Connors), and Marlene Cameron (entering her own "happy time").
******** The Happy Time (10/30/52) Richard Fleischer ~ Bobby Driscoll, Charles Boyer, Louis Jourdan, Kurt Kasznar