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When a widower with 10 children marries a widow with 8, can the 20 of them ever come together as one big happy family? From finding a house big enough for all of them and learning to make 18 school lunches, to coping with a son going off to war and an unexpected addition to the family, Yours, Mine and Ours attempts to blend two families into one and hopes to answer the question Is bigger really better? Written by
April M. Cheek <Aravis2713@aol.com>
If I were asked what my favorite film of all time was, I would probably say either "The Last Picture Show" or "Ordinary People," two films that I feel are legitimate masterpieces. But if I were asked what my favorite film of all time REALLY was, I'd have to say "Yours, Mine and Ours," which was one of the first movies my parents ever took me to (along with a re-release of "Swiss Family Robinson" and Steve McQueen's "Bullitt") as a five-year-old. I've loved it my entire life, and I have to admit my affection for it hasn't dimmed with age. Although I realize it's not one of the great masterpieces of all time, and I would never rate it as high as say, "Show" or "People" or "Casablanca" or "Schindler's List" for that matter, I still love this film all the same.
I must admit that I am also a lifelong fan of "I Love Lucy," so the fact that "Yours, Mine and Ours" stars Lucille Ball certainly has something to do with my fondness for this film. And growing up in the '70's when co-star Henry Fonda was relegated to cameo roles in awful films like "The Swarm" and "Rollercoaster," if it hadn't have been for his charismatic and likeable performance here, I would never have known he was the great actor that he was. Add the pleasure of Lucille's longtime friend Van Johnson in the prime supporting role of Darryl, Fonda's best friend, and an extremely young Tim Matheson as Fonda's oldest son, and you have the foundation of an excellent cast in a lovely romantic comedy about the ultimate blended family (think "The Brady Bunch" with brains, and much, much larger to boot).
Very loosely based on a true story, Ball is Helen North, a recent widow with eight unruly children who moves to San Francisco for a fresh start. While working at the infirmary at an (unnamed) Naval base, she meets Naval Officer Frank Beardsley (Fonda, of course), who is a recent widower himself (with 10 children !) and has brought one of his daughters (Suzanne Cupito, aka '70's starlet Morgan Brittany) in for treatment. Helen and Frank are immediately smitten with each other and go out on a date, but immediately break it off when they realize how many children their combined family would contain. Darryl realizes that eighteen children aside, these two were made for each other and proceeds to plot to get them together. They do eventually marry and this sets up many amusing scenes of this huge family trying to blend in together.
The nice thing about this film is that for once Lucille Ball is allowed to play a character completely different from Lucy Ricardo or Lucy Carmichael (from "The Lucy Show"). She is intelligent, touching, funny and very, very human here. In only one scene does she do any kind of "Lucy" shtick, and that is during a wonderfully played drunk scene. Even then she doesn't resemble her daffy TV persona as much as, well a woman who's had too much to drink. And the chemistry between Ball and Fonda is so believable, as a child I found it hard to believe they were not really married in real life! Honest! Johnson gives wonderful support and Tom Bosley has a few amusing scenes as the family's exasperated doctor. I also loved the character of Madeline Love, who Darryl sets Frank up with on a disastrous date that ends with her riding home between Frank and Helen (who's been dumped by her Darryl-arranged date). Their discussion of their respective families ends with the hilarious exchange: Frank: "I'm glad I have ten children!" Helen: "I'm glad I have my eight!" Madeline: "And I'm glad I'm careful!"
All in all, this is an extremely enjoyable romantic comedy that grandkids can watch with their grandparents where everyone will be entertained and nobody will be embarassed. An added treat: laughing at the '60's styles and hairdoes, which look worse and worse with each passing decade. They just don't make them like this anymore. ***1/2 (out of *****)
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