Sunday, January 2, 2011

Movie Sunday: My Six Loves

Image from here

Biscuit and I both have colds, brought home from our holiday travels. We are choosing to blame my niece from L.A., who was inconsiderate enough to travel 2000 miles with two kids under five and presents for twenty, just so she could spend the holidays feeling like crap with a lot of people she barely knows. As a bonus, she got to have a big fight with her mother (my sister-in-law), just because her mom brought an ill-behaved, child-biting yippy little dog into a small house full of little kids.

But that has very little to do with this week's movie. Or maybe it does, how would I know? I have a fever, and probably won't remember writing any of this later. Anyway, we got Biscuit's parents a Roku box and a Netflix subscription for Christmas, and even though it doesn't work that great with their small town, steam-powered broadband, it seems like it's going to be serviceable, and they seem to like it.

Biscuit's mom is what you might call traditional, meaning most of her favorite books and movies were made before 1968. So when we were looking for things to add to her instant queue, the second thing she settled on (after a John Wayne movie) was today's gem, My Six Loves. Released in 1963, it stars Debbie Reynolds as an overworked actress, with Cliff Robertson, David Jansen, and Eileen Heckart, the Joan Cusack of her day.

Reynolds plays a successful actress suffering from exhaustion,* who is banished to her Connecticut estate for rest by her manager/boyfriend Jansen. There she discovers six trailer-trash children living in her old greenhouse. The ragamuffins have run away from a neglectful aunt and uncle who apparently wandered off the set of The Beverly Hillbillies. Once the local minister (Robertson) persuades her to take care of the kids until something suitable can be arranged, the wackiness starts. Also, there is a song jammed into the middle of the film for no discernible reason. Perhaps it was a signal to the men of the day that they could step out for a quick smoke and a bathroom break.

Some people will see this movie as a nostalgic look at a simpler time. Released today, it would be viewed by most women under 50 as a misogynistic propaganda piece, possibly secretly financed by the Mormon Church. The story revolves around Reynolds' realization that she "may be an actress, but she's also a woman, and should start acting like one." Apparently, real women can only be fulfilled when they are in a morally unambiguous relationship with a righteous man and a passel of kids. Heckart plays Reynolds' friend, assistant, and external super-ego, whose main job seems to be telling everyone that Reynolds will eventually come to her senses.

I like watching movies like this, because it reminds me of how far we have come in what is really a very short time. And also why our parents and the Tea Party (admittedly largely overlapping sets) seem so crazy about some things. Attitudes usually change over several generations, and seeing mainstream entertainment so obviously out of touch with today's mainstream sentiments helps lend a sense of perspective.

I wouldn't waste a DVD choice on this, but if you feel like streaming as much as you can stand, I found it pretty entertaining. You will probably need drinks.

* This was before the likes of Liza, Mariah, and Lindsay taught us that "actress suffering from exhaustion" is normally a synonym for "ho-bag on the Joe Cocker diet."** But it's implied.

** Bloody Mary's for breakfast and cocaine for lunch. Supper usually consists of jumping around onstage for a couple of hours, followed by a handful of M&M's.


  1. you are footnoting footnotes. congratulations. you have a fever. and i'd rather subsist on the joe cocker health regimen than watch a perky debby reynolds film...

  2. Yeah, but he footnotes footnotes even when he's well/sober. It's kind of his thing, I've noticed. :-p

  3. Actually, I thought the song was the best part of the movie. I love Debbie Reynolds, but this is one of her weakest vehicles. See How the West Was Won from the same year for Debbie at her best.

  4. This movie was shitty, but in your altered state just keep self-medicating and you'll soon forget it...your review was too kind to it.. If you really do enjoy these types of movies you need to watch 'Mr Hobbs Takes a Vacation' with Jimmy Stewart and Maureen O'Hara, or 'Yours, Mine and Ours' with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball...

  5. Oh I really loved the original "Yours, Mine and Ours"! It was so cute.

  6. If giving birth to Princess Leia ain't acting like a real woman I don't know what is.