Humor and Satire Make Sentimental Story Enjoyable in Fast-Moving Play at Plymouth
Despite its sugary sentimentality, lack of restraint, and melodrama, "Happy Landing," the sixth production sponsored by the Professional Players at the Plymouth Theatre, is as amusing as its title is dull. Patterned on Lindberg's meteoric career and his unexampled popularity, it is a satire on American hero-worship and its exploitation. The all-American habit of pulling to pieces and devouring its cynosures is displayed very entertainingly.
Blin Gardner, an ingenuous country lad with a knack for mechanical things, is about to take off for Japan in an aeroplane financed by his pretty fiancee and built by two old "characters" in order to receive a fifty thousand dollar prize. After a great deal of emotion, he finally gets away and is last heard of off the coast of Alaska. The next scene is in a New York hotel. Blin, the victorious hero, is expected home. His publicity manager is storming into telephones, receiving reporters, making engagements for dinners, banquets, radio broadcasts, and arranging cigarette endorsements. People rush in and out. Everyone is screaming when at last the victim comes in, he is immediately mauled by all in sight. A radio announcer yells at a microphone, cameras click, and moving picture machines purr. The scene is almost Shavian in its magnificence. The poor boy has not a moment to himself. He becomes conceited and changed, but still has a spark of the "old Yankee spirit." The final outcome is what makes the story interesting.
The play is fast moving and dramatic; the acting good, except for a certain lack of reticence which characterizes the whole production. Russell Hardie, as the sincere, easily duped hero, is excellent, and the publicity manager, William David, who makes everyone his puppet until almost the end, is brilliant. The play's humor, its best recommendation, is raucous rather than subtle. There is an obvious attempt to "play to the orchestra" with weak puns and irrelevant jokes more suited to a musical comedy. Few of them require much mental effort, and yet many of them are really funny.