Today is Thursday, so I am going to publish a Breening Thursday article. Although this series, which I started in November of 2018, has never been as consistently weekly as I would like it to be, it has been particularly irregular in 2020. Rebekah has breened two films this year, but this will be my first 2020 article in this series. I hope to publish these articles with more regularity in the future, although I won’t promise that it will be every week. Anyway, I’m starting April with a long-delayed breening article!
Today I am going to breen Yours, Mine and Ours from 1968. Since this movie was released in April of 1968, it is a late Shurlock Era film, since the Rating System didn’t begin until November 1 of that year. This movie stars Henry Fonda, Lucille Ball, and Van Johnson. However, this “family film” does not feature Breen Era (1934-1954) principles to go with its Breen Era stars. Although the core is perfectly acceptable and very wholesome, it contains an unfortunate amount of surface problems.
The basic premise of the movie is that Helen North (Lucille Ball), a widow with eight children, and Frank Beardsley (Henry Fonda), a widower with ten children, seem drawn toward each other by fate. Although it seems ridiculous for two such large families to merge, they are destined to wed and combine their huge families, with a little help from a meddling mutual friend, Darrel Harrison (Van Johnson). They then struggle to turn the two families into one. Let the breening begin!
In the opening credits, there is a slight rock and roll beat to the theme song. Since the beating, savage nature of rock and roll music is against the Code’s rule not to stimulate the baser element, it should be removed. Also, all future inclusions of rock and roll should be removed, whether they are background music or played in context, such as on the radio.
Frank is in the navy, but he decides to stay ashore permanently after his wife dies. When he returns home after completing his final tour, his ten children are quite hostile toward him. In overdubbed narration, Frank says that their less then amicable welcome could make any man “reevaluate his stance on the entire subject of birth control.” Birth control was a forbidden topic under the Code. The words birth control should be replaced with large families.
He proceeds to muse that his children think he neglected their mother, despite the overwhelming “physical evidence that I hadn’t neglected her completely.” This line is too pointedly suggestive. It should be removed.
Helen settles her family into San Francisco, hoping that there will be fewer memories of her late husband. In overdubbed narration, she says that they find a house which is ideal in every way except that it is too close to the boy next door. Her oldest daughter, Colleen (Jennifer Leak), is seen kissing said boy next door, Larry (Ben Murphy), rather passionately on the front porch. They shouldn’t kiss quite so long or so passionately.
Later, Helen checks on her children, who are in bed. Her high-school aged son, Nicky (Kevin Burchett), is reading Playboy Magazine in his bunk. She takes it from him and hands him a schoolbook instead. Helen then picks up a toy ray gun and pretends to shoot herself in the head with it. Playboy Magazine is such a salacious magazine that it is in poor taste to even show a copy of it. Nicky should be reading a comic book instead. Also, Helen shouldn’t pretend to shoot herself, since suicide is no joke.
Darrell can’t understand his friend and fellow Navy man Frank’s reluctance to go on dates. He says, “Any man who has ten kids can’t quit cold turkey.” This line is unduly pointed. Instead, he should say something like, “Any man who was married as long as you were deserves to play the field again.”
Late at night, Frank is watching a French movie on television. It is very risque, with excessive kissing, obviously passionate dialogue in French, and a bed in plain sight in the scene. This is obviously a spoof on the risque foreign movies which Americans watched in art houses for years before they could be seen late at night on television. If a French movie is included, the scene must not be in a bedroom, and the kissing should not be so lustful.
When Helen is preparing for her first date with Frank, her daughters Colleen and Janette (Kimberly Beck) help her dress. When their mother confesses that she didn’t tell Frank how many children she has, the romantic Colleen says that she understands, since “no man wants to have a liaison with a woman with eight children.” She explains to her younger sister than a liaison is an affair. Annoyed, Helen says that she is not having an affair or a liaison with Frank. They’re just going out to dinner. It is inappropriate for a sixteen-year-old girl to say that her mother is having a liaison. Instead, she should say that no man wants to have a romance with a woman with eight children, to which her mother could still object.
Over at Frank’s house, his sons are ribbing him about bringing flowers to Helen. Frank says, “It isn’t going to be a love-in.” Love-ins are too closely associated with hippie culture to be flippantly mentioned in a film like this. Instead, he should say something like, “It isn’t going to be like that.”
After dinner, Frank and Helen go to an Irish coffee joint which is so crowded that there is standing room only with no room to walk between guests. Frank fights his way back from the bar with two Irish coffees. He has to go between two very trampish women. As he bumps into one of them, he apologizes. She flirtatiously replies, “That’s alright. That’s why we come in here.” The other woman adds, “What’s your excuse?” These women look too much like women of the oldest profession. They should be removed. Thus, their future lines, “Back for seconds?” and “You are a tiger,” are automatically eliminated.
As Helen waits for Frank to come back from the bar, she rehearses telling him that she has eight children. A drunk nearby (Robert P. Lieb) hears her repeatedly saying, “I have eight children,” and thinks she is talking to him. He replies, “Not on your life, sweetheart.” At another point in the scene, he says, “Don’t look at me; I just got here.” Both of these lines are too suggestive. Instead, he should just look at her strangely.
When Helen’s false eyelash comes loose, it ends up below her eye. A hippie with hair so long that it completely covers his eyes brushes his bangs back long enough to observe her strange appearance and say, “Ridiculous.” Although very funny, this skit is making light of the hippie movement, which was a very serious and dangerous issue in America at the time. The man who says that she looks ridiculous should not be a caricature of a hippie with long hair. He could be comical-looking in some other way.
At the bar, Frank tries to tell Helen about his large family but struggles to find the words. He starts by saying, “Speaking of children,…” but Helen points out that they weren’t speaking of children. Frank sees his out and replies, “In that case, to – with it.” The dash is for a profane word. Instead, he should say something like, “In that case, forget it.”
As they exit the crowded bar, Helen looses her slip. She asks Frank to go back and get it for her. He crawls through the crowd at ground level to find it. As he does this, the camera focuses on the sea of legs, many of them women’s in indecently short skirts. The through-the-legs angles are reminiscent of pre-Code dance sequences. The camera should remain at a higher angle to avoid indecent leg shots.
After they leave the Irish coffee joint, Helen and Frank ride a cable car. During the ride, they finally get up the nerve to tell each other how many children they have. Afterward, they each remember that they get sick on cable cars. Frank says, “Let’s get off this – thing.” The swear word which is represented by the dash should be removed.
After Helen and Frank agree not to see each other because their combined family would be ridiculously large, Darrel sets each of them up with a blind date. He describes a young woman he has in mind for Frank, Madeleine Love (Louise Troy), to his friend. Frank asks what she is like as they are watching airplane tests at their naval base. A jet takes off. Darrel looks at Frank and says, “That answer your question?” This is suggestive. Instead, Darrel should point to her name in his little black book, showing that WOW is written next to it. Then he could say, “That answer your question?”
Soon, Frank takes Madeleine to dinner at a quiet little Japanese restaurant for which Darrel made reservations. Madeleine is a hippiesh tramp with a strange way of speaking and a very forward manner. Her dress is much too short. In addition, it looks somewhat sheer. Her dress needs to be totally revised so that it is the proper length and made of completely opaque material.
As soon as their car pulls up to the restaurant, Madeleine kisses Frank on the lips. “I hate suspense, don’t you? Now you know, and I know,” she says. “Let’s have a quick dinner.” Aside from the suggestiveness of these opening lines, Madeleine’s manner is unacceptable. She is too serious, droll, and languorous. In her current state, this character is a serious depiction of a strange and very loose woman. Her character can only remain if she is more comical. She should be sort of a funny flirt, such as one sees in Code films. I think a different actress, such as one with over-processed blonde hair and a high, squeaky voice, would be more apropos in the revised role. When they pull up to the restaurant, she could still kiss Frank. She should just say the line about suspense with an accompanying giggle. The rest of her line should be placed with something like, “Come on, Frankie. Let’s have dinner. I’m starving!” It would be better for her to be characterized as immature and shallow rather than promiscuous.
Due to Darrel’s good-natured plotting, Helen and her blind date are dining at the same Japanese restaurant that evening. In this scene, Helen’s dress is too short. It should reach to her knees.
Helen’s date is Dr. Ashford (Sidney Miller), an obstetrician who hardly fits the dashing description Darrel gave. As they are sitting at dinner, he pats Helen’s knee, and she quickly moves his hand away. This is very inappropriate, especially for a first date. He should pat her hand instead, which could result in the same discouraging action from Helen.
As they are having dinner, Madeleine notices that Frank is looking at Helen, who is at a nearby table. She says, “You’re not worshiping me.” Instead, she should say something like, “Frankie, you’re ignoring me!”
When Dr. Ashford learns that Helen is the mother of eight children, he quickly makes his exit, leaving Helen without transportation. Thus, Frank offers to drive her home, much to Madeleine’s displeasure. During the drive, Frank and Helen discuss their children and parenting issues as the horrified Madeleine makes snide remarks. Her unacceptable lines in this scene include, “Someone must have put something in my sugar; I’m having a trip;” “And the Mama Bear said to the Papa Bear, who’s been sleeping in my bed?” “Let me off at the next exit, and you two can have a wild game of post office;” “Ten kids! I’m nervous just sitting next to you;” and “And I’m glad I’m careful.” Instead, her attitude should seem bored and pouty because she is being ignored while her date pays attention to another woman. She could make a comment about having a bad dream instead of a bad trip. Instead of the suggestive Three Bears reference, she could mockingly quote some other nursery rhyme, such as “Mary had a little lamb,” perhaps after Frank makes some comment about his daughter Mary.
Frank and Helen decide that they are serious about each other, so Frank eventually brings Helen over to his house to meet his children. Three of his sons spike Helen’s drink to make her act ridiculous. After adding some liquor, one of the boys dips his finger in the drink and licks the concoction off. He makes a face as he confirms that the alcohol is very strong. It is in poor taste here to show an adolescent boy sampling alcohol. This action should be removed.
Their plan works, and Helen becomes very drunk. Before dinner, Frank says the traditional Catholic prayer for mealtime. Between phrases, Helen hiccups. This happens several times, and the boys can barely restrain their laughter. Although having intoxicated people comically hiccup is a staple of motion picture comedy, it is unacceptable for such a gag to be used during a prayer. A religious moment like saying grace is not the proper time for humor. Helen can comically hiccup before or after the prayer.
When she starts to feel ill after watching the lazy Susan spin, Helen accidentally calls Frank Dick, the name of her late husband. When he corrects her, she says, “Oh, Lord! What have I done?” This use of Lord is not reverent, so it is unacceptable. Instead, she should say something like, “Good grief!”
Helen soon says, “If this – room would stop spinning around, I could find some place to be sick.” The profanity represented by a dash must be deleted. Frank then instructs one of his daughters to show Mrs. North to the bathroom. This is unduly pointed. Instead of saying that she wants to find “some place to be sick,” Helen should say, “If this room would stop spinning around, maybe I wouldn’t feel so sick.” Then, Frank should tell one of his daughters to “help Mrs. North.” She could then lead her away, which would less strongly imply that she is going to the bathroom.
Not long after, the two decide to marry. Their children stand on either side of the aisle, their thoughts overdubbed. Colleen’s overdubbed thoughts are, “Can it possibly be something physical with them?” This line is unacceptable and suggests that sixteen-year-old girls are obsessed with the purely physical aspects of romantic relationships. The word physical should be replaced with romantic.
After the wedding, one of Helen’s sons, Phillip (Eric Shea), starts sneezing. Fearing that he is seriously ill, they postpone their honeymoon and move into their huge new Victorian house that night. As they are trying to work out the children’s room arrangements, Helen apologizes to Frank for ruining his wedding night. He says, “I thought it was your wedding night, too.” She replies, “I didn’t want to seem anxious.” The last line is rather suggestive about the intimate part of marriage. The italicized word should be replaced with selfish.
Later in the same scene, Frank tells Helen that it won’t be long until he will have all the kids “bedded down.” “It’s our turn next,” he adds.” Like the last line, this is unduly suggestive. Instead of saying that it will be their turn to “bed down” next, Frank should say, “Then we can be alone.”
The electricity goes out in the house, so everyone is using candles for light. When the doctor (Tom Bosley) finally arrives, one of the boys goes to let him in. Seeing the candle, the doctor, assuming that the sick boy has died, says, “Oh, my God! I’m too late.” Instead of this irreverent use of God, he should say, “Oh, no!”
When the newlyweds finally get to be alone together, they start kissing. Their kissing is rather excessive. Although they are very much in love, the kissing should not be too prolonged.
The two talk about the possibility of really making their separate families into one. Frank says that they can. He says that they will accomplish it by setting a good example, starting tonight, “in togetherness.” This is too pointed. Instead, he should say, “By setting a good example of love and harmony.” Saying togetherness is too suggestive.
Soon after, we see the daily routine of the family. It begins with Frank awakening Helen. They are in bed together, which is against the Code standards. They should be in twin beds instead.
Later that day, we see Colleen at school. She is wearing a pink dress that it much too short. It should be a decent length.
Colleen meets her boyfriend during the lunch break, and he invites her to a “freak-out.” This is a slang term for a hippie gathering, so it is unacceptable. Instead, he should invite her to a party at some friend’s house. Then, she could respond as in the existing film, that she has heard of those parties and their bad reputation.
Larry accuses Colleen of being too conservative, saying that it’s because of her family. She calls him a sex maniac, and he replies, “If I’m a sex maniac, then I’m the most frustrated sex maniac in the history of the world!” Sex maniac is an unacceptably suggestive phrase. It should be replaced with the word cad.
Soon after, Helen and Frank decide that they should adopt their children so that they will legally be one family. Colleen becomes very emotional because she thinks that her mother is trying to wipe away her late father’s memory. In this scene, she is wearing a sweater with a plaid skirt that is much too short. The skirt needs to be lengthened.
Eventually, Frank goes back to sea on a project which he and Darrel have been developing for some time. He sends his wife a postcard to give her a hint of where they are. The postcard shows Frank’s and Darrel’s faces in cut-out images of hula dancers. Referring to his more voluptuous image, he writes in his letter, “I’m the sexy one.” Instead, he should refer to his rounder female shape as “the chubby one.”
Soon after, we see Frank and Darrel in their naval ship living quarters. Darrel has several pinup girls on his locker. Although I don’t object to the inclusion of a sailor having pinup girl photographs, these particular pictures are indecent. They should be replaced with more decorous pictures.
In this scene, Frank receives a letter in which he is informed that Helen is expectant. “We’re pregnant!” he shouts. This is too pointed an expression of impending parenthood. Instead, he should declare, “We’re going to have a baby!”
The excited Frank declares that this baby is “our first.” His roommate, Darrel, incredulously replies that he can’t count. “That must be how it happened,” he adds. The last part of the line is unacceptably suggestive. Instead, he should just say that he can’t count, since he thinks he is forgetting about the eighteen children they have from former marriages.
Frank hurries back to be with his wife. When her time finally comes, she awakens him in the middle of the night. He is nervous, but they have a well-organized plan. She says that she just has a touch of indigestion. He says, “How often do you have that indigestion?” She replies, “About every fifteen minutes.” “That’s it!” he declares, knowing that she has gone into labor. Code films did not refer to labor pains, as this is too sensitive a topic for presentation before mixed audiences. Birth is a very sacred and intimate process, and films have a tendency to make it the subject for comedy when allowed to do so. Instead of referring to having indigestion every fifteen minutes, she should just stay, “I think it’s time.” As a side note, they shouldn’t be in bed together at the beginning of this scene.
Later, one of the boys runs over Larry’s motorcycle in the family car, and Frank tries to help them disconnect the two vehicles. Meanwhile, Tommy (Mitch Vogel) calls to his father that his mother’s contractions are now six minutes apart. Talking about the car, Frank says, “Get a crowbar and pry it loose.” “What?” Tommy says in horror, thinking he is talking to him. “Not you,” Frank clarifies. This exchange and misunderstanding should be removed, since the thought of using a crowbar on an expectant mother is pretty horrifying. Also, the reference to labor pains being six minutes apart is still inappropriate.
As Frank is trying to get Helen ready to go to the hospital, Colleen tells him that she just has to talk to somebody about her problem. Her boyfriend, Larry, says that she’s being ridiculous and old-fashioned. She asks her stepfather, “Do all the other girls?” Frank answers that they said the same thing when he was young, but he never got the girls who did. Frank gives sound, wise advice to his stepdaughter in this scene. He basically tells her that strange fads and wild behavior aren’t “what it’s all about.” Real love is commitment and respect for another person, which makes you willing to face all the difficulties of married life. Life isn’t a “love-in,” he says. He points out, “It isn’t going to bed with a man that counts. It’s getting up with him and facing all the dull monotony….”
Frank has an excellent, true, and wise point which he shares with Colleen. However, some of the wording is too pointed in this discussion. Colleen’s line, “Do all the other girls?” is too suggestive. She should just ask, “Am I being old-fashioned, like Larry says?” Frank could then say, “Boys said the same thing when I was young, but all the girls I got were old-fashioned.” Instead of referring to going to bed with a man, he could say, “It isn’t spending an evening with a man that counts. It’s getting up with him in the morning and facing all the dull monotony….”
When Colleen protests that things were different when he was young, Frank points out that they wrote Fanny Hill in 1742, “and they haven’t found anything new since then.” Veronica then asks, “Who’s Fanny Hill?” Sending his young daughter back to her room, Frank says, “Go to bed! That’s who Fanny Hill is.” Fanny Hill is an infamously obscene novel which has been banned in many areas at many times. Although Frank’s point about immorality and changing times is valid, it is unacceptable to mention such a lurid book, as it could arouse curiosity in the young. Also, his reply to Veronica’s question has a double-meaning to anyone who can guess the subject of the book. The reference to Fanny Hill should be eliminated.
That concludes my breening of this film! I hope that my article showed that this is basically a wholesome movie. It is unfortunate that, due to the era in which it was made, it was cluttered up with unnecessary risque content. This remarkable story of a very unusual but loving family doesn’t need any such content to be entertaining. This is a great example of a family film which is not quite acceptable for everyone because it is not Code-compliant. Without that Breen Seal of Approval, even movies intended for all contained content which was inappropriate. Only a new Production Code Administration could remove that flaw from current entertainment.
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