Review of “What’s So Bad About Feeling Good?” (1968

trailer from Youtube

For our Saturday pizza and bad movie, we chose one the dearly beloved recalled seeing in part some years ago. It wasn’t all that good, but it was lighthearted.

Plot:

A Greek ship remains in quarantine in New York harbor because most of the crew is sick. You wouldn’t know it by looking at them. The captain, who usually rants and raves, is dancing. The crew blames a toucan they have in a jerry-rigged cage. When the authorities come to confiscate the bird, it flies away. No surprise.

He finds a group of bohemian/hippie artists and musicians who view life as dreadful and depressing. Pete (George Peppard) is a former advertising executive who sits in front of canvases. (“It says nothing,” he says of one black and white masterpiece. After adding a few dabs of black ink, he announces, “Now it says something.”) Liz, (Mary Tyler Moore), his old lady, performs a song, “Life is Blue, Black, and Gray.” Immediately, she’s told, “That’s terrible.”

The toucan comes in to steal grapes and infects Pete, who wakes up the next morning (as opposed to the next afternoon), shaves his beard, and smiles.

The virus makes people happy. The downside is they stop buying booze and cigarettes, with fewer taxes flowing into city coffers. This becomes not just a city problem but a national problem. New York City mayor (John McMartin) leaps into action when told people might be too happy to vote. He arranges a press conference, advising people of the virus and offers face masks free to any who ask.

The U.S. President sends in his aide, the officious J. Gardner Monroe (Dom DeLuise), who arrives in New York wearing a space suit helmet. His assistant, Murgatroyd (George Furth ), wears a gas mask and wipes his boss’s bubble for him. They will capture that bird, even if it means shutting off New York City from the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, the hippies are happy. Pete and Liz are going to actually get married, along with a lot of other happy New Yorkers.

Thoughts:

This is a silly, lighthearted, and not entirely credible comedy. It was fun, but watching it after the covid pandemic meant shaking off some powerful ghosts. The mayor of New York City (…or governor of the state of New York) going on t.v. to discuss a breakout of a new virus? And wearing face masks? The lockdown?

*shudder*

And the cost to the government of people behaving differently? That the government has a vested interest in people’s self-medication through booze and tobacco? OUCH.

Some silly and outrageous things are not meant to be believed.

The movie is based on a 1943 novel I Am Thinking of My Darling by Vincent McHugh, which was favorably reviewed in the New York Times.

Unfortunately, the movie is difficult to find. The dearly beloved bought it after a prolonged search. I could not find it streaming anywhere, not even for pay.


Title: What’s So Bad About Feeling Good? (1968)

Directed by
George Seaton

Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)
Bill Danch…(writer) (uncredited)
Vincent McHugh…(story “I Am Thinking of My Darling”)
Tedd Pierce…(writer)
Robert Pirosh…(writer)
George Seaton…(writer)

Cast (in credits order)
George Peppard…Pete
Mary Tyler Moore…Liz
Don Stroud…Barney
Susan Saint James…Aida
Dom DeLuise…J. Gardner Monroe

Released: 1968
Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

2 thoughts on “Review of “What’s So Bad About Feeling Good?” (1968

    1. Yes. Doesn’t mean we can’t treat people well—as pointed out in the movie. No one gets out of this alive. At the same time, not quite this simple

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