Happy End

comedy

Typology

feature

Czech title

Happy end

Runtime

69

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1967

Production year

1967

Premiere

01.09.1967

Language version

Czech

Director

Oldřich Lipský

Screenplay

Miloš Macourek, Oldřich Lipský

Screenstory

Miloš Macourek, Oldřich Lipský

Summary

The first collaboration between the director Oldřich Lipský and the screenwriter Miloš Macourek became a comedy experimenting with narrative chronology. The story goes backwards so that the protagonist – the butcher Bedřich Frydrych (Vladimír Menšík) – comes to life after he has been condemned and executed for the murder of his unfaithful wife (Jaroslava Obermaierová). Thereafter he relishes telling viewers the story of his marital relationship right up to his meeting with the beautiful Julie. The titular happy ending is such that Bedřich (who “in real life” saves Julie from a fire) throws the young woman into the flames and falls into the arms of his previous girlfriend for a final kiss… Neither Lipský nor Macourek ever repeated such a radical experiment with the rules of storytelling. Nonetheless, the motif of “mechanical changes in causational circumstances” can be found in Lipský’s filmography in the plots of films like Zabil jsem Einsteina, pánové… (I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen!, 1969) and Jáchyme, hoď ho do stroje! (Joachim, Put Him into the Machine!, 1974). The comic effect works in that the characters go backwards, with people “vomiting” their food while eating and an infant supplying its mother with milk. All of this can become boring for the viewer after a while – unlike the speeches of the actors, which are often very funny in reverse order. What remains remarkable about Happy End, however, is the basic idea of working backwards so that the audience comes away with something that is the exact opposite of the original meaning: a dismembered wife is “assembled,” death appears as a birth, a mother-in-law’s funeral becomes a “delivery” in a coffin, etc. First and foremost, however, the tragic – and banal – story of a cuckolded husband-murderer changes into an extraordinary comedy with a happy ending. The internal order of the narrative is maintained by Bedřich’s naïve commentary, which confirms the naturalness and correctness of events on the screen. Part of the elaborate visual qualities of Happy End owe a lot to the important works of the legendary cameraman and special effects expert Vladimír Novotný, as well as working with the legacy of silent slapstick. At the time, the film was not well received by critics or audiences (all though it did get good reviews in the contemporary American press).

Synopsis

The edge of the guillotine separates the condemned man's head from his trunk, but the head immediately jumps back and unites with the body and the butcher Bedřich Frydrych comes back to life. With a good deal of temperament, he begins to tell his story "backwards" and returns to the events preceding his execution - as far back as to his dramatic first meeting with his future wife Julie. - At the court, Bedřich is sentenced to death for the murder of his wife. He was caught by a constable, while he was carrying her quartered body in a suitcase. The following sequence describes - through running the camera backwards - the "assembly" of his wife's body into its original state and the story continues to the beginning of Bedřich's life. He lives comfortably with Julie but a wild jealous scene reveals that Julie is unfaithful to him. Bedřich searches out his wife's lover, a Mr Ptáček whom he had heroically saved from drowning during their honeymoon by the sea. Bedřich's marriage with Julie is preceded by his split with his lover. Although Julie's mother agrees with the wedding, the girl attempts to commit suicide. The story goes back to the beginning, to the first acquaintance of Bedřich with Julie, who saves Julie from a fire. In the film, however, it looks as if Bedřich threw Julie into the fire; then he descends the ladder and, by kissing the hand of his former lover, attains a happy end.

Film online

Cast

Vladimír Menšík

řezník Bedřich Frydrych

Jaroslava Obermaierová

Julie, Bedřichova manželka

Josef Abrhám

Jan Ptáček, Juliin milenec

Bohuš Záhorský

rada, Bedřichův tchán

Martin Růžek

žalobce

Josef Hlinomaz

komisař

Jaroslav Štercl

strážník

Helena Růžičková

aranžérka Anežka

Mirko Musil

dozorce

Lubomír Bryg

pokladník

Lena Birková

Zajícová

Alena Bradáčová

švagrová

Valtr Levý

kat

Petr Sedlák

kat

Lubomír Kostelka

vrchní číšník

Stanislav Litera

brýlatý úředník

Oldřich Lukeš

advokát

Viktor Očásek

úředník

Jan Maška

dětský lékař

Ilona Cicvárková

vnučka

Jiřina Hautová

příbuzná

Milena Jandová

sestřenice

Jiří Kasík

dubl za Menšíka

Vojtěch Kheck

ujec

Milan Kindl

mlékař

Josef Krameš

kouzelník a polykač ohně

Ivan Kraus

synovec

Jan Kraus

synovec

Kateřina Krausová

neteř

Otakar Kuttner

Karel

Ladislav Gzela

strýček

Jan Fleischer

bratranec

Karel Mikuláštík

rada

Jan Obrda

dozorce u soudu

Jan Odl

číšník v kabaretu

Marie Popelková

příbuzná

JUDr. Otakar Rödr

předseda poroty

Helena Rychterová

neteř

Jan Sieber

rada

Ela Šilarová

porodní bába

Václav Štekl

řidič nákladního auta

Jan Teplý

úředník ve vězení

Jaroslav Tomsa

policista

Rudolf Veselý

policista

Soňa Zborníková

striptérka

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Tomáš Svoboda

Assistant Director

Eliška Štíbrová, Zdenka Karlovská

Script Editor

Václav Nývlt

Second Unit Photography

Miloš Petrolín

Production Designer

Karel Škvor

Set Designer

Karel Lukáš

Costume Designer

Theodor Pištěk ml.

Make-Up Artist

Otakar Košťál

Film Editor

Miroslav Hájek

Sound Designer

Josef Vlček

Production Manager

Miloš Stejskal

Unit Production Manager

Jaroslav Koucký, Ludmila Tikovská

Unit Production Manager

Antonín Navrátil

Cooperation

Hana Kozlová, Jan Kňákal

Music

Music Composed by

Vlastimil Hála

Production info

Original Title

Happy end

English Title

Happy End

Copyright

1967

Production Year

1967

Premiere

01.09.1967

Creative Group

Šmída – Fikar, Ladislav Fikar, Bohumil Šmída

Technical info

Format

Betacam, DVD

Versions

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Exhibition: 2. mezinárodní týden fantastických filmů a hororů Sitges

1969
Sitges / Spain