Joy of Living

Joy of Living is a 1938 American musical comedy film directed by Tay Garnett and starring Irene Dunne and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. with supporting performances from Alice Brady, Guy Kibbee, Jean Dixon, Eric Blore and Lucille Ball. It features the hit song "You Couldn't Be Cuter," written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields.

Joy of Living
Directed byTay Garnett
Produced byFelix Young
Written byDorothy Fields
Herbert Fields
Screenplay byGene Towne
Graham Baker
Allan Scott
StarringIrene Dunne
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Music byFrank Tours
CinematographyJoseph Walker
Edited byJack Hively
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • May 6, 1938 (1938-05-06)[1]
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,337,000[2]


Margaret "Maggie" Garret is the star of a new musical show, Glamour, having come up the hard way, following the family tradition of stage performance. She now earns a large salary but is devastated to learn that she is deeply in debt. She has worked extremely hard to make the show a success, but spends huge sums on a palatial home, and supporting her parents Dennis and Minerva, her sister Salina (also her understudy) and Salina's work-shy husband, Bert Pine.

After the show one night, she forces her way through her adoring fans and is accosted by Dan Webster, who latches on to her and won't be put off. Taking him as a "masher", she drives to the police station, but Dan charmingly talks his way out of the charge. When it happens again, Dan is forced to appear to court and demands that Maggie appear as a witness. The judge finds the charge proved and sentences Dan to six months in prison. Maggie, who is slowly taking a liking to Dan's debonair manner, begs the Judge to commute the sentence to a suspended one. He agrees, but appoints Maggie the "probation officer", to whom Dan must report twice-weekly.

Dan, now revealed as an easy-going pleasure-seeker from a rich banking family, claims to own an island in the South Pacific, bought with family money. He continues to pursue the hard-working Maggie, attempting to convince her to take time off and have fun - as he does.

Eventually, they fall in love and marry. Dan wants to immediately board his boat and sail to his island, which he calls "Paradise", but Maggie has a show to do. She must make a choice.

Maggie returns to the family home and confronts her sponging family. She tells her parents, who have spent a fortune on acquiring antiques, to go into the antiques business. She tells her sister that this is her big chance - tonight she will take the stage and (perhaps) make her name.

Maggie and Dan sail off to Paradise.



RKO recorded a loss of $314,000 on the film.[2]


  1. "Joy of Living: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
  2. Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p57

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