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Happy Ever after is a 1954 British independent comedy film directed by Mario Zampi and starring David Niven, Yvonne De Carlo, Barry Fitzgerald and George Cole. In the film, the accidental death of an Irish landowner leads his relative to take over the estate, much to the dissatisfaction of the locals.[2] It was released in the United States under the alternative title Tonight's the Night.[3]

Happy Ever After
Australian film poster
Directed byMario Zampi
Produced byMario Zampi
Written byJack Davies
Michael Pertwee
StarringDavid Niven
Yvonne De Carlo
Barry Fitzgerald
Music byStanley Black
CinematographyStanley Pavey
Edited byKathleen Connors
Distributed byAssociated British-Pathé (UK)
Allied Artists Pictures (US)
Release date
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£255,863 (UK)[1]


Aged General O'Leary is fatally injured while trying to jump a wall with his horse. On his deathbed, the beloved old Irishman bequeaths £1000 each to his cousin and fellow landowner Major McGluskey and to Doctor Michael Flynn, and cancels all debts owed to him. The rest of the estate goes to a distant relative, Jasper O'Leary, who has never before set foot in the hamlet of Rathbarney.

Jasper very quickly wears out his warm welcome, proving to be an unscrupulous cad who had been saved from marrying a rich but unattractive woman in Capri by his unexpected windfall. He is attracted to Serena McGluskey, a beautiful young widow who has just returned to Rathbarney following the death of her husband. Jasper confides his plan to Serena, "Once I squeeze the lemon dry, I'm off."

Jasper is so unpopular that some of the disgruntled locals gather in Dooley's pub and decide to participate in a secret lottery to see who will be assigned the task of murdering him. Dooley's assistant, Terence, faints when he is chosen. Lacking confidence in his ability, several groups (without each other's knowledge) decide to do the job themselves. However, working at cross purposes and sometimes just by being unlucky, none of them succeed.

Meanwhile, Doctor Flynn is still infatuated with Serena, despite having been jilted by her in the past. He is too blind to see that her sister Kathy is in love with him. Serena's interest in Jasper (and vice versa) eventually cures him. When Serena repeatedly turns down Jasper's repeated proposals of a dalliance, he asks her to marry him. She agrees.

Finally, on the night when supposedly the ghost of one of Jasper's ancestors walks the halls, all of the various plotters make another try, but once again interfere with each other. Jasper also takes the opportunity to try to burn down the ancestral mansion for the insurance. None succeed. Then, Father Cormac shows up and makes an announcement. General O'Leary had instructed him to open a letter on that day. The letter contains a new will, which is to go into effect if Jasper proved to be unworthy, leaving the estate to Major McGluskey. Jasper offers to depart if the others will hold off on their murderous attempts. To his surprise and delight, Serena asks to go with him.



The film was originally known as O'Leary Night.[4] The filming took place in Braughing in Hertfordshire where the railway station was renamed Rathbarney for the duration of the filming.

De Carlo later said "I think it will help me in comedy when it is released in this country. I have had my share of sirens and am happy to get away from them no matter what the part."[5]


Although the film is little remembered today, it was a sizeable hit at the British box office, being one of the most successful films ever made from Associated British.[1]


  1. ^ a b Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p504
  2. ^ "Happy Ever After". British Film Institute.
  3. ^ "Movies on TV Screen". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 1 June 1963.
  4. ^ 'O'Leary Night' Will Star Yvonne De Carlo Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 4 Aug 1953: B6.
  5. ^ Yvonne's Persistence Making Believers of Her Critics Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 2 May 1954: E1.

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