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The Really Big Family (1966)

7.1
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Title: The Really Big Family (1966)

The Really Big Family (1966) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Credited cast:
Bill Dukes ...
Bill Dukes
Louise Dukes ...
Louise Dukes
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Eine wahrlich grosse Familie  »

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A True Really BIG Family
29 October 2005 | by (Northern Ontario Canada) – See all my reviews

UPDATED August 5/06 KEVIN DUKES, IF YOU SEE THIS, I'D LOVE TO CHAT WITH YOU. WE CAN MAKE CONTACT ON THE "MESSAGE BOARD" AT THE BOTTOM OF THE IMDb PAGE OF YOUR FAMILY'S DOCUMENTARY. PLEASE REPLY TO THE MESSAGE I LEFT THERE FOR YOU.

I SURE HOPE YOU READ THIS! :-)

Original post: This is a 1966 documentary of the Dukes family who have 18 children and lived in Washington State. The spectator goes through a whole week with the family, the week before the eldest daughter, Bobbi's wedding. The documentary is narrated by Henry Fonda, who, oddly enough, two years later would play the father of 18 kids in the movie Yours, Mine and Ours (1968).

The Dukes family consists of Bill Dukes, the dad, a shy man who says he never knew what it was like to have a family since he was an only child raised by "step-parents". More than wealth, leisure or peace of mind, this 41 year old dad wanted children. He wishes he were as good at his job at being a father as his wife is at being a mother. But he surely comes across as a terrific dad! He is a very humble man.

The mom is Louise, who is in the TRUE sense of the word: SUPERMOM! She comes from a family of 15, so lots of kids is the norm for her. She is an extremely patient mom who governs the house with a firm hand, but mostly with a loving one. When the kids are away she misses them. She says in a voice-over, "I'd be lost without them. The noise, the commotion, the 100 little problems. They're my life." Louise is a TRUE mother!

The kids are as follows: Bobbi, 21, is getting married and is busy making bridesmaid dresses for all her sisters.

Mary, 18, who can't wait to be on her own is furnishing an apartment. She said "We are a very close family, but sometimes when you look at a brother or sister, they're almost strangers. There are so many of us that Mother and Daddy just can't give us each a lot of personal attention. So we turn to each other for companionship. And we form pairs and little groups."

Anne, 17 is a loner and complains about lack of privacy. She doesn't want a large family, not more than 8 kids! "Large" is a relative term.

Billy at 16 is a typical teenage boy stuck in the middle of a bunch of sisters.

Then there are Linda, 15, Janice, 14, the studious twins Jimmy, and Jane, both 13. Then there is Theresa, 12, Michael, 11, and Miriam, 10. Then come Mark, 8, and Robert, 7 who love to fight. Next comes Carrie, 6, who can't wait to move from the nursery to the "big girls" bedroom. The younger ones are Gregory, 5, Joseph, 4, Kevin, 3, and finally, baby Angela, 1.

The Dukes family are extremely open and honest about how it REALLY is living in the family... fights and all! One keen observer noticed that in a 3 hour period there were 22 minor incidents, 5 serious skirmishes and one full-scale war!

In 1966, the Dukes' food budget was $260 per month. Any emergency that came up was taken out of the food budget. The Dukes bought everything in bulk. Flocks of 20 live chickens at 50¢ each, 100 lbs of flour and 30 lbs of peanut butter per month. 50 lbs of powdered milk for 4 gallons of milk a day, 20 dozen eggs a week. Louise Duke said "It's senseless to worry. I just keep shopping till the money runs out. Things will work out. They always do." Sometimes she had to stretch the food budget twice as long. They managed, she said.

They also bought groceries "on the hoof". Bill Dukes bought whole, live cattle, which he butchered himself and stored in the family meat locker. 500 lbs of beef lasted 3 months.

All in all we get a true sense of what it is like living in this family. No holds barred here. They tell it like it is. A wonderful documentary!


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