September 14, 2016

Blu-Ray Review: YOURS, MINE AND OURS (1968)

Starring Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda, Van Johnson, Walter Brooke, Nancy Howard, Tom Bosley, Tim Matheson, Morgan Brittany, Tracy Nelson, Jennifer Leak, Kimberly Beck, Ben Murphy. Directed by Melville Shavelson. (1968, 111 min).

There's a scene about halfway through Yours, Mine and Ours that depressed the hell out of me. Frank and Helen Beardsley (Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball) are grocery shopping for their 18 children, loading up four carts' worth of food. The grand total of their bill comes to $123.

$123!!! That's about seventy bucks less than I currently spend to keep my family fed for a week, and there's only four of us. What's really sad is I vaguely remember my sister watching this when it first aired on TV in the early 70s, when $123 was a ridiculous amount to waste on mere groceries. That scene must have been quite amusing back then, but, I haven't cried like that since seeing Marley the dog die.

Other than that, for a 48-year-old film, Yours, Mine and Ours has held up pretty well. Even my millennial daughters were engaged enough to see it through to the end.

Naval officer Frank Beardsley is a widower with 10 kids who ends his duties onboard a ship to take care of them. Helen North is also recently widowed with 8 kids of their own. The two eventually meet, fall in love and, despite the ominous implications of raising 18 children, get married. None of the kids are too happy about this at first, leading to some amusing (and occasionally annoying) moments in which they express their disapproval. Much of the humor comes from the Beardsleys' efforts to function as a family without going crazy, though far funnier is Frank and Helen's courting period, where both characters dread informing each other of how many children they have and Ball lets her gifts as a physical comedian shine.

"Hey, Mom, I found my special purpose in the bathroom!"

Lucille Ball & Henry Fonda have great chemistry together, making one wish they had done more films together. Van Johnson also has some amusing moments as Frank's best friend, while Tom Bosley steals the few scenes he appears in. As for the child characters...they range from likeable and charming to truly obnoxious. You might recognize a few of them, such as a very young Tim Matheson as Mike, the oldest and angriest. Sharper cinephiles will spot Eric Shea, a truly irritating kid who'd go on to play an even more irritating kid in The Poseidon Adventure.

Yours, Mine and Ours is another nostalgic blast from the past. Despite some goofy bits of "hip" dialogue and some mild sex talk, the film probably seemed old fashioned even in 1968. But it never crosses the line into pure corniness, which is a chief reason it we still laugh with it, not at it.


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