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DVD Review: The Family Way (1966)

Familyway_sleeve We have covered The Family Way previously, but as the DVD has been reissued and as it's a personal favourite, I'm more than happy to revisit the movie.

It's a film that's close to my heart because it was filmed in my hometown (Bolton) - and many of the locations are unchanged today. But it's more than a nostalgia trip, it's a great piece of 60s realism with a top-notch cast including the likes of John Mills, Hayley Mills, Hywel Bennett, Barry Foster, Wilfred Pickles and Liz Fraser and it features an early Paul McCartney score, orchestrated by George Martin.

On the face of it, this adaptation of a Bill Naughton play is a fairly simply tale of neighbourhood whispering. Arthur Fitton (Hywel Bennett) has married Jenny Piper (Hayley Mills), with a honeymoon planned before they return to live with Arthur's parents - Ezra (John Mills), Lucy (Marjorie Rhodes), along with Arthur's brother Geoffrey (Murray Head). But there's a problem - the travel agent has swindled them (and others) out of their money, so married life starts immediately with the in-laws.

That causes problems for the newlyweds in the bedroom department, with Arthur nervous about making amorous moves under his parents' roof. Unfortunately, word gets out, causing embarassment both for the newlyweds and their family. And things aren't helped by Jenny's closeness to Arthur's hip brother Geoffrey and Arthur's rocky relationship with his father. Inevitably, it all comes to a head.

But there's more to this film than one couple's bedroom problems. Arthur's relationship with his father (played superbly by John Mills) is at the heart of everything - if indeed he is the father. There's a constant hint that Ezra's best friend Billy could be the real father, the result of a brief relationship with Arthur's mother before mysteriously disappearing. And it's a film about communities - or rather, the downside of living your life under the watchful gaze of the neighbours and being one step away from being the talk of the bus stop.

If you're after some gritty northern realism, this is as good a place as any to start. Well scripted, a top-notch cast and a fascinating insight of how we used to live. Have things change for the better? You can be the judge of that.

Extras on the DVD:

None

More about the DVD at Amazon.co.uk

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