A Touch of Love (1969) Poster

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6/10
Compelling work of social drama
Leofwine_draca28 September 2016
A TOUCH OF LOVE is a film adaptation of a famous feminist novel of the 1960s by Margaret Drabble entitled THE MILLSTONE. It's a work of social realism that looks at the plight of a young girl who finds herself pregnant with no father in sight, and the trials and tribulations she faces over what do with the unborn baby. A film which rides the trend for gritty kitchen sink dramas without ever sugar coating the story. What's surprising is that this was put out by the Amicus film studio, who were best known as Hammer's main British rival and who put out horror anthology after horror anthology during the era. A TOUCH OF LOVE is completely atypical for them, and yet as a film it retains a certain quality that gives it the edge over rival fare.

American actress Sandy Dennis is an excellent choice for the lead role and totally convinces as the young and naive British girl. Compare her performance with, say, Renee Zellweger in BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY. I know the films are from two entirely different genres, but Zellweger's acting is full of exaggerated mannerisms and a put-on persona, where Dennis is all real, all out in the open, and thoroughly sympathetic as a result. Ian McKellen has a warm role as her friend and the supporting cast is generally fine. Watching as a viewer in the 21st century, I was occasionally flabbergasted at the depiction of the sexist and inhumane attitude of NHS workers during the era; a young Penelope Keith is one of the nurses.
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3/10
Depressing drama
moonspinner5528 August 2004
British-made feature involving a pregnant and unmarried woman making life choices. The combined talents of director Waris Hussein, usually a very fine, quirky filmmaker, and Sandy Dennis in the lead should have resulted in something more touching than this. The lead character is in such a passive fog that she becomes vacuous. Dennis uses a subtle local accent but spends most of her time on screen fiddling with her lifeless hair. She was obviously trying to stretch her abilities passed her kooky screen persona, but a somnambulant Sandy doesn't do her--or us--any favors. The film isn't incompetent, but it's washed-out, dishwasher-dull. Also known as "Thank You All Very Much". *1/2 from ****
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7/10
Fascinatingly Dated
richardchatten18 November 2020
The crying baby with the bright red face Sandy Dennis has thrust into her hands in a hospital waiting room would now be in her fifties (assuming it was a girl).

For someone who regards a film made in 1970 as recent, it's sobering to realise that over half a century now separates us from this attempt by sixties schlockmeisters Max J. Rosenberg & Milton Subotsky to go legit by filming Margaret Drabble's 1964 novel 'The Millstone' in a fashion reminiscent of 'The L-Shaped Room'. More decades now separate us from this film than from this film and the silent era; a time when telephones had rotary dials, the Post Office Tower featured prominently in the background during the street scenes so we knew it was London, Sandy Dennis was a bankable Hollywood star, and Penelope Keith as a nurse and Ian McKellan in his film debut look young and fresh-faced (the latter playing a gay man long before he came out in reality. "I keep it secret not because it's wicked but because it's so dull!").

And the stylistic tic indulged in by first-time big screen director Warris Hussein is pans and zooms rather than pans and steadicam, as it would be today.
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1/10
It didn't achieve anything?
adamjohns-425759 April 2021
Thank God for Sir Ian. I was just about to turn this film off when he appeared. I should have trusted my instincts earlier.

I don't know if it was supposed to be a commentary on the appalling treatment of single pregnant women during the 1960's or about the terrible state and behaviour of the health service at the time, but it wasn't a good or well made story either way.

The lead female didn't have much going for her and I can't see why anyone would even be friends with her let alone get her pregnant. As it happens, I only tuned in to watch it because the synopsis said that she had a baby with a gay TV presenter, which piqued my interests, but although Mr McKellen was a tad effeminate in his way, there was no indication or conversation to confirm his sexuality at all. That might have given it some drama had it been obvious, but alas that's not the case.

It's also a bit creepy. The music and style of filming is similar to 'Rosemary's Baby' which lead me to think that the baby could die at any moment or some sort of evil or paranormal activity could occur.

All in all not one of the best.
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6/10
Pregnant after a night of passionlessness
trimmerb123410 October 2016
Not sure I find Sandy Dennis very credible, it's a mannered performance, at times impassive and disengaged, at times the opposite - for no discernible reason other than perhaps to maintain her familiar unfathomable screen personna.

Clearly written by a woman, judged by the savage portrayal of the sadistic hospital matron who needlessly blocks the young mother from even glimpsing her recovering infant under the pretence of efficiency and rules, in contrast to the kind (male) consultant who is only too happy to allow this.

Ian McKellan plays a pleasant young man who one would assume seduces the Dennis character only that she seems neither stirred nor shaken by his advances. Nevertheless clearly we gather from her change of costume into something more comfortable and it being morning, that intimacy has taken place. Somehow this significant event has, while changing her state irrevocably, left her manner as neutral and unchanged as if it never happened. And, oddly, the film ended suddenly leaving me feeling exactly the same - as if nothing of interest or significance had happened.
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Worth watching
lucy-6612 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOIL Very faithful to Drabble's book. Wonderful ensemble cast including Eleanor

Bron, Ian McKellen, Maurice Denham, Rachel Kempson and I even spotted

Penelope Keith as one of the hospital battleaxes. Some things have changed

since 1969. Parents can visit their children in hospital, single mothers aren't faced with a choice between abortion and adoption, and we don't have to wear

tent-like beige minidresses any more.

When Sandy explains to Eleanor she never slept with either of her official

boyfriends Eleanor asks "How did you get away with it?" Maybe things haven't

changed that much.

Being a Margaret Drabble, the single mother is an academic living free in her parents huge mansion flat. I longed for Sandy to get together with Ian but I

suppose it would never have worked. We can only hope the character finds Mr

Right and learns to like sex eventually.

Xxxxxxxxxxx.
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Worth watching
lucy-6612 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** Very faithful to Drabble's book. Wonderful ensemble cast including Eleanor

Bron, Ian McKellen, Maurice Denham, Rachel Kempson and I even spotted

Penelope Keith as one of the hospital battleaxes. Some things have changed

since 1969. Parents can visit their children in hospital, single mothers aren't faced with a choice between abortion and adoption, and we don't have to wear

tent-like beige minidresses any more.

When Sandy explains to Eleanor she never slept with either of her official

boyfriends Eleanor asks "How did you get away with it?" Maybe things haven't

changed that much.

Being a Margaret Drabble, the single mother is an academic living free in her parents huge mansion flat. I longed for Sandy to get together with Ian but I

suppose it would never have worked. We can only hope the character finds Mr

Right and learns to like sex eventually.

xxxxxxxxxxx
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8/10
Worth your attention.
Shilpot728 March 2011
Gentle film based on the Margaret Drabble novel of several years earlier, entitled, The Millstone.

Ros is an academic virgin doing her thesis at some unnamed university. One night she makes love to a campy television presenter played by Ian McKellen and falls pregnant. After much thought, she decides to keep the baby.

Luckily her rather cold parents have left London for Africa, so she has the run of their large mansion flat off Baker Street and she invites her friend, played by Eleanor Bron, to move in. This adds some life to the proceedings. Bron even rents a TV to bring some light to their gloomy flat, it also gives Ros a chance to catch brief glimpses of the father of her child, who she temporarily becomes mildly obsessed with.

The film is really about a young woman who grapples with the problems of having a child out of wedlock at a time when this was socially difficult.

It's sensitively made. Sometimes quite lifeless. There are some very nice shots of London, mostly around Marylebone. It's quite atmospheric and is the sort of gentle film that in the 70s would have been a rather good one-off TV play. The sort that are sadly no longer made. Middle Class, well spoken, Londoners are now forbidden territory for TV or cinematic dramas in 'Classless Britain'.

Made in 1969, but don't expect 'Swinging London'. Ros, played, rather well by Sandy Dennis, who affects a very good English accent, is what back then would have been considered a 'square'. No Donovan singles in Ros's record collection or Saturday afternoons along the King's Road. More a case of violin recitals at The Wigmore Hall and matronly outfits from Fenwick's.

The film is now available on an excellent quality DVD.

It's well made, well shot, well acted, somewhat lifeless at times, but what's good about it adds up to make this into a film well worth watching.
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9/10
Watch it for Sandy Dennis McKellen, etc, and M.Drabble's Novel
gerald.dorman21 May 2000
After seeing Sandy Dennis in all her somewhat-quirky roles ( I even saw her hit '60,s play "Any Wednesday", before she got into films), it was almost a revelation: how beautiful and fine her performance. Also, interesting as time warp: 60's situation and attitude, also all the other fine performers when they were young( Bron, Standing, McKellen )
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9/10
Excellent Moody Melodrama Captures the Period
alofsky31 July 2004
I wish this were on DVD. I know it is an esoteric film but it is a little gem starring Sandy Dennis when she was at her peak popularity.

Despite the commentary on the miserable part of living in England, London is beautifully photographed and is almost its own character in the film.

Also a great history lesson for young women on how oppressive sexual mores(more-ays) once were before Blondie, Britney and Madonna.

Young Ian McKellen is in this for all fans of the awful Lord of the Rings Trilogy. For those who want a juxtaposition of what films once were, just watch these two McKellen films that bookend his career.

This is a great film to watch on a rainy afternoon.
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