1939 and 1999 were banner years in cinema.
1939 saw the release of “Gone With The Wind”, The Wizard of Oz”, “Stage Coach”, “Gunga Din”, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”, “Rules of the Game”, Dark Victory”, “Only Angels Have Wings”, “
“Ninochka”, “Hound of the Baskervilles”, “Destry Rides Again”, “The Hunchback of Notre Dam” “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Wuthering Heights”
1999 saw the release of “Boys Don’t Cry”, “Being John Malkovich”, “3 Kings”, “Mystery Men”, “Election”, “The Sixth Sense”, “South Park- Bigger, Longer and Uncut”, “The Matrix”, “Iron Giant”, “Magnolia”, “Galaxy Quest”, “Fight Club”, “The Talented Mr. Ripley”, and “American Beauty”. I want to add to this list “Princess Mononke” and “Happiness”. Technically speaking, both movies were released in 1998, but I didn’t seen them until the following year.
I acquired the movie poster directly from the artist/designer, Daniel Clowes, at a book signing at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood, California, where Mr. Clowes had various examples of his work for sale. I saw the poster and asked for it. Dan either gave it to me outright or sold it to me for a nominal fee.
I asked Dan if the poster was difficult to draw. Dan affirmed that it was; all the stars had approval over their likeness, resulting in multiple revisions.
Clowes, with his acid dark humor, was a perfect match for “Happiness”. The poster communicates clearly that the title is ironic; none of these people are happy- they are separated from each other, in their separate worlds. They glance suspiciously side to side, or, if looking forward, the direction of their heads keeps the gaze from being “at cam”, though the foregrounded Phillip Seymore Hoffman character comes closest. I find it interesting that PSH was given such a privileged position, since his wasn’t the most important character (in my opinion, that honor goes to Dylan Baker as the pederast, Bill Maplewood”). Of course, I haven’t watched the movie since it’s initial release, so my memory may not serve me well.