The Family Way
is a curiosity, a film that straddles two eras. Set in a tight-knit, Northern, working-class community, it harks back to 1950s' British cinema. There are characters here--for instance, John Mill's beer-quaffing patriarch or Wilfred Pickles' Uncle Fred--who wouldn't look out of place in an Ealing comedy. The screenplay by Bill Naughton (who also wrote Alfie
) mines the same vein of whimsical, but well-observed character-based humour that you find in films such as Passport to Pimlico
and Whisky Galore
. Yet it deals with certain subjects that Ealing would never go near--namely the sex lives of its protagonists. The benighted hero is Arthur Fitton (Hywel Bennett), a shaggy-haired young local lad who has just wed the beautiful Jenny (Hayley Mills), but is having difficulty consummating the relationship. He's living at home, and is at odds with his father (John Mills), with whom, in the film's most memorable set-piece, he has an epic arm wrestling bout.
Director/producer team Roy and John Boulting never quite fulfilled their potential. In the 40s, they made such ground-breaking films as Graham Greene's Brighton Rock and Fame is the Spur, a story of a young politician who loses his idealism and reforming zeal the closer he moves to the heart of the establishment. In the 50s, they too seemed to lose their ambition, turning to light comedy. The Family Way, which boasts music by Paul McCartney, makes some witty points about the clash between youngsters growing up in the not-so-permissive 60s and their parents (who think they're spoiled rotten) but hardly ranks with their best work. --Geoffrey Macnab
United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Mono ), WIDESCREEN (1.66:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: This gently farcical British comedy stars Hayley Mills and Hywel Bennett as Jenny and Arthur, a young couple who have just gotten married. However, while both of them are filled with anticipation for their honeymoon, a practical joke played by their "friends" causes their bed to collapse just as they're about to consummate their relationship. Through a variety of misfortunes, they end up spending the night at the home of Arthur's parents, where nervousness and a certain lack of privacy make it difficult for them to enjoy their first night together as they'd wish. While a bit of frank language and some fleeting nudity by former child star Hayley Mills generated a certain amount of controversy upon first release, by today's standards The Family Way is more easily seen as the compassionate relationship comedy its creators intended. The Family Way is also of note to Beatles fans as the first film scored by Paul McCartney.; SCREENED/AWARDED AT: San Sebastian International Film Festival, ...The Family Way