|The Family Way|
|Directed by||Roy Boulting|
|Based on||"All in Good Time" by Bill Naughton|
|Produced by||John Boulting|
|Edited by||Ernest Hosler|
|Music by||Paul McCartney and George Martin|
|Distributed by||British Lion Films|
|Box office||$2,225,000 (U.S./Canada)|
The Family Way is a 1966 British comedy-drama film about the marital difficulties of a young newlywed couple living in a crowded house with the husband's family. Based on Bill Naughton's play All in Good Time (1963), the film began life in 1961 as the 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 wrote the screenplay.
Following the wedding of young Jenny Piper (Hayley Mills) and Arthur Fitton (Hywel Bennett) a rowdy reception ensues at a local Lancashire pub. The newlyweds then spend their wedding night at the Fitton's house, where Arthur's father, Ezra (John Mills), and some drunken guests are loudly singing in the living room. Arthur clashes with Ezra, a lifelong gasworks employee, who is unable to understand his son's love of literature and classical music. After a strained evening, the newlyweds retire, only for their marital bed to collapse as the result of a practical joke by Arthur's boorish boss Joe Thompson (Barry Foster). Jenny is amused, but Arthur, believing she is laughing at him, is unable to consummate their marriage. Arthur assures Jenny everything will be fine once they are on their honeymoon in Majorca, but the next day, they discover that the travel agent absconded with the money they gave him for the tickets, cancelling the trip.
Unable to afford their own home, Jenny and Arthur live with Arthur's parents and adult brother Geoffrey. The thin walls and lack of privacy exacerbate Arthur's discomfort. As days pass into weeks, the marriage remains unconsummated, straining the couple's relationship. Making matters worse, Arthur works at night while Jenny has a day job. Jenny begins socializing with Geoffrey, who is attracted to her, but she rebuffs his advances. At Jenny's urging, Arthur sees a marriage counsellor, but a gossipy charwoman overhears their session and spreads what was discussed. After Jenny confides to her parents that the marriage still is unconsummated, they then tell Jenny's in-laws. Arthur's mother Lucy (Marjorie Rhodes) reminisces to the Pipers about her own marriage having had a slow start. Ezra tries defending himself when Lucy relates how he brought his life-long friend Billy along on their honeymoon and spent more time with him than her. Lucy later tells Mrs Piper about once spending an evening with Billy when Ezra was working late, after which, Billy disappeared from their lives.
Joe Thompson, having heard the gossip, mocks Arthur and scornfully "volunteers" to satisfy Jenny. An enraged Arthur batters him, then quits his job. Returning home, he berates Jenny for disclosing their private matters. Their quarrel leads to them finally having sex. The gossipy neighbours overhear them and spread the news.
Meanwhile, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) bond has covered the couple's lost honeymoon money, and they prepare for a belated one in Blackpool. Jenny's Uncle Fred advises the couple to get their own home to help improve their marriage; Ezra agrees to help Jenny and Arthur with the down payment on their own cottage, wanting 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, causing Lucy to console him.
Bill Naughton wrote a television play for ABC's Armchair Theatre titled Honeymoon Postponed, which aired in 1961. The Observer called it "a lively - almost Restoration - Lancashire working class comedy."
Naughton adapted it into a play that premiered in 1963 with Bernard Miles playing the father. It played for six weeks at London's experimental Mermaid Theatre, then transferred to a commercial house, where it ran for three months. London's drama critics awarded it the Best New Play of 1962–1963. Naughton sold the American film and theatre rights for $100,000, enabling him to become a full-time writer.
David Susskind bought the rights to produce the play in America, and cast Eric Portman as the father. However, Portman was unable to play the part.
The play debuted on Broadway in 1965 with Donald Wolfit playing the father. Susskind produced it with Daniel Melnick and Joseph E. Levine in association with the Boulting brothers, who were to make the film version. It closed after only 21 performances.
John Mills attended the opening night of the play at the Mermaid Theatre. After the performance, he went backstage to seek film rights as a vehicle for him and his daughter Hayley, but discovered that they had been promised to the Boultings.
In July 1963, it was announced that David Susskind would make a film of the play as a co-production with the Boulting brothers, with John producing and Roy directing. Boulting was writing a script with Naughton and Susskind and was hopeful that Peter Sellers, who had made a number of films with the Boultings, would play the father. The Boultings then focused on making Rotten to the Core.
The film was financed by British Lion Films and the Boultings. It was the only film made in Britain within a 12-month period financed completely with British capital.
The Boultings contacted John Mills while the latter was making King Rat in Hollywood and offered him the role of the father. "I'd call it a comedy with serious intent," said Mills, who called his role "the best part I've had since Hobson's Choice."
Hayley Mills was cast as the bride. She called her role "a most marvellous departure... no more school girl parts for me unless the character happens to be absolutely fascinating." Mills called the film "an answer to Britain's kook generation."
Hywel Bennett was cast after John Boulting saw him in the play A Smashing Time. "We weren't purposely looking for an unknown," said Roy Boulting, "but mostly for someone who had the appearance of both sensitivity and masculinity."
The film was shot in Naughton's hometown of Bolton, as well as in Rochdale and Slough. Some indoor scenes were filmed at Shepperton Studios. It was known during filming as All in Good Time.
John Mills later wrote in his memoirs that "during the first half hour on the set on the first morning's shooting I knew that I was going to enjoy myself. Roy was not only a superb technician but because he was pro- and not anti-actor, his direction was helpful and sensitive. We all felt perfectly safe in his hands and I personally owe a great deal to him for the final success of Ezra and indeed the whole film."
Hayley Mills did a nude scene in the film, which received much publicity. She called it "a very integral part of the film... the whole thing was handled with great taste." Mills also fell in love with Roy Boulting, but he was married. The two later became a couple and married.
Main article: The Family Way (soundtrack)
The soundtrack was scored by Paul McCartney, who was still a Beatle at the time, and producer George Martin.
The film premiered in London on 18 December 1966. The film was released on video on 24 February 1989.
The movie became a notable critical and financial success in the UK. In October 1967, John Boulting claimed it was the most successful British film made over the past year.
The nude scene led to the film receiving a "condemned" rating by the Catholic Film Office.
The film is rated M in Australia and New Zealand for nudity and sexual references.
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. The Smiths single "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish" features by a still of Avril Angers from the same film. Both songs were released from the Smiths' final album, Strangeways, Here We Come.