Saturday, 22 October 2016

Movie Review: My Six Loves (1963)


A family drama and romantic comedy, My Six Loves is a fluffy career-versus-family story with attempts at humour but lacking any edge or substance.

Janice Courtney (Debbie Reynolds) is a Broadway star who has just wrapped up her first Hollywood role. Extremely popular but very single, Janice wonders if she has made the right choice dedicating her life to her career and never getting married. Driven to exhaustion by her agent Marty Bliss (David Janssen), Janice is ordered to rest and retreats to her Connecticut country home for a few weeks of recuperation in the company of her loyal assistant Ethel (Eileen Heckart).

In the nearby woods, Janice stumbles on six kids and a dog living on their own after being abandoned by their parents. She takes them in and starts to care for them. She also meets local Reverend Jim Larkin (Cliff Robertson), and they start to fall in love. Janice is attracted to the life of domesticity and considers adopting the children, but then she is offered an opportunity of a lifetime to star in the latest play by celebrated playwright Kinsley Kross (Hans Conried).

The first feature film to be directed by stage legend Gower Champion, My Six Loves is a lame affair suffering from an outdated societal message and a feeble script (despite the involvement of four writers). Every moment of conflict is immediately resolved, every event and emotion is obvious, and all the characters are superficial. The laughs are often juvenile, sometime descending to the let's-all-run-around-the-bus-after-the-dog variety, targeting eight year olds.

As a pure family film aiming to entertain pre-teens My Six Loves may be relatively harmless, but the film sells an infantile solution to the serious debate about finding balance between career success and family life. The choice offered to Janice is to give up her career success entirely to adopt and look after six children she barely knows. That the domestic option comes with the love of a man of the church makes the premise more troublesome. The film avoids any astute discussion: Janice is presented with a forceful, often guilt-laden binary decision, and the film disintegrates under the weight of seeking a simplistic solution to a profoundly complex dilemma.

Debbie Reynolds does her best to capture some semblance of an internal conflict. She looks great and even gets to sing one song. The scruffy dog is adorable and emerges as the only other thing worth watching. The rest of the supporting cast members, including a too-serious Cliff Robertson and a too-glib David Janssen, are wooden, predictable and overtly theatrical. The children are saddled with an overdose of doe-eyed cutesiness and no depth.

My Six Loves has little to say, and even that comes out all wrong.






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