This overlooked gem of 1960s film-making is a beautiful, bittersweet story of newlyweds Jenny (Hayley Mills in her first adult role) and Arthur (newcomer Hywel ‘Shelley’ Bennett) who are unable to consummate their marriage because of a cancelled honeymoon to Majorca and frustrating difficulties caused by too-close-for-comfort in-laws.
Featuring terrific supporting performances by Hayley’s real-life father John Mills as Ezra, her beer-drinking, ballad-singing gasworks-working on-screen father-in-law (the greatest frustrator of all), and the wonderful Marjorie Rhodes as Ezra’s wife who is left to manage the household by default, and the only one to appreciate the young couple’s desperate need for privacy..
Best known for its fine, Paul McCartney-penned score, and for Hayley’s brief flashes of nudity (and her scandalous off-screen romance with director Roy Boulting, 33 years her senior) The Family Way is a film that straddles two eras.
Set in a tight-knit, working-class Lancashire community, it harks back to 1950s British cinema.
There are characters here (such as Wilfred Pickles’ Uncle Fred) who wouldn’t look out of place in an Ealing comedy.
Yet it deals with certain subjects that Ealing would never touch – namely the sex lives of its protagonists.
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. In the 50s, they seemed to lose their ambition, turning to light comedy.