|The Family Way|
|Directed by||Roy Boulting|
|Produced by||John Boulting|
|Written by||Bill Naughton
|Music by||Paul McCartney|
|Edited by||Ernest Hosler|
|Distributed by||Boulting Brothers
British Lion Films
|Box office||$2,225,000 (US/ Canada)|
The Family Way is a 1966 British comedy-drama film based on Bill Naughton's play All in Good Time (1963). It began life in 1961 as a television play, Honeymoon Postponed. The film was produced and directed by John and Roy Boulting, respectively, and starred father and daughter John Mills and Hayley Mills. Naughton adapted the play himself.
Following the wedding of young, virginal Jenny Piper (Hayley Mills) to sensitive, bookish cinema projectionist Arthur Fitton (Hywel Bennett), a rowdy reception is held at a local pub in their Lancashire town. The couple return to the Fitton home to spend their first night together, prior to leaving for a honeymoon in Majorca – only to find Arthur's father Ezra (John Mills) leading the drunken singing with some party guests in the living room. Arthur clashes with Ezra, a lifelong gasworks employee who doesn't understand his son's enjoyment of reading and classical music. After a strained evening, the newlyweds finally retire, only for their marital bed to collapse as the result of a practical joke played by Arthur's boorish boss, Joe Thompson (Barry Foster). Jenny laughs at the situation, but Arthur imagines she is laughing at him and then is not able to consummate their marriage. Arthur assures Jenny that all will be well once they get to Majorca, but the next day the couple discover that the travel agent who sold them their tickets has absconded with the money, resulting in them missing their honeymoon.
Unable to obtain a home of their own, Jenny and Arthur have to continue living in the crowded Fitton house with Arthur's parents and adult brother Geoffrey, where the thin walls and lack of privacy exacerbate Arthur's discomfort. As days pass into weeks, the marriage remains unconsummated, and the strain between the couple steadily worsens, not helped by Arthur's job keeping him away from the house at night, when Jenny is home from her day job. Jenny begins to go out socially with Geoffrey, who is attracted to her, although she puts off his advances. After a plea from Jenny, Arthur visits a marriage guidance counsellor, but his visit is overheard by a gossipy charwoman who spreads the story. Eventually, Jenny confides in her mother and Jenny's parents visit Arthur's parents to tell them. Lucy (Marjorie Rhodes) reminisces to the Pipers how Ezra took Billy, his close male friend since childhood, along on their honeymoon and spent more of his time with Billy than with her. Later, Lucy tells Mrs Piper of the evening she spent alone with Billy when Ezra was working late, which immediately preceded the abrupt disappearance of Billy from their lives, with no explanation. Jenny also confides in her Uncle Fred and he advises her that Arthur's problem would likely be resolved if she and Arthur lived in their own home instead of in Arthur's father's house.
When Joe Thompson, aware of the gossip, makes fun of Arthur and scornfully volunteers to satisfy Jenny's marital needs, an enraged Arthur starts a fight in the theater parking lot, and batters him, and then walks out on his job, returning home to berate Jenny for disclosing their private affairs. Arthur and Jenny have a quarrel that finally leads to sex – overheard by the many gossipy neighbours in the gardens under Arthur's open window. The opening bars of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, signifying Victory, are heard.
The couple then find out that the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) bond has returned their holiday money, and they get ready to rush off for a belated honeymoon in Blackpool. Before they go, Arthur, encouraged by his mother, asks his father for help with the down-payment on a cottage that has just become available. Ezra gladly agrees to provide the money, to build a better relationship with Arthur, whom he tearfully calls "son". After Arthur leaves, Ezra ingenuously remarks how much Arthur looks and acts like the long-gone Billy, and Lucy moves to comfort him.
The premiere of the film was in London on 18 December 1966. The film was released on video on 24 February 1989.
Variety wrote, "Hayley Mills gets away from her Disney image as the young bride, even essaying an undressed scene. Bennett is excellent as the sensitive young bridegroom. But it is the older hands who keep the film floating on a wave of fun, sentiment and sympathy. John Mills is firstclass in a character role as the bluff father who cannot understand his son and produces the lower working-class man’s vulgarity without overdoing it. Avril Angers as the girl’s acid mother and John Comer as her husband are equally effective, but the best performance comes from Marjorie Rhodes as John Mills’ astute but understanding wife."
The cover sleeve of "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before", a single by English rock band The Smiths, features Murray Head (as Arthur's brother Geoffrey) in a still photo from the film. Another Smiths single, "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish", is adorned by a still of Avril Angers from the same film. Both songs were released from the Smiths' final album, Strangeways, Here We Come.
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