THE FAMILY WAY(British Lion, 1966)—Family comedy/social drama. Director: Roy Boulting; Producer: John Boulting; Script: Bill Naughton, based on his play All in a Good Time; Cinematography: Harry Waxman; Music: Paul McCartney; Cast: Hayley Mills (Jenny Fitton), Hywel Bennett (Arthur Fitton), John Mills (Ezra Fitton), Marjorie Rhodes (Lucy Fitton), Avril Angers (Liz Piper), John Comer (Leslie Piper), Wilfred Pickles (Uncle Fred), Barry Foster (Joe Thompson), Murray Head (Geoffrey Fitton), Liz Fraser (Molly Thompson), Thorley Walters (The Vicar), and Margaret Lacey (Mrs. Harris).
Surprising as it may seem today, the release of The Family Way generated controversy in the mid-1960s. This was due to a number of factors—the film's basic subject matter, the inability of newly married Jenny and Arthur Fitton to consummate their marriage; the fact that former child star Hayley Mills was cast as Jenny and her father, John Mills,* as her father-in-law; followed by the news that Hayley Mills had fallen in love with the film's director, Roy Boulting,* thirty-three years her senior.
The theatrical basis of The Family Way is evident, particularly in the film's closing shot, which reproduces the emotional effect of the use of tableau in nineteenth-century theatrical melodrama to maximise the emotional effect. Here, the film's dark secret is openly acknowledged by Ezra and Lucy Fitton. This secret, that Ezra's close boyhood pal Billy Stringfellows was really Arthur's father, and that Arthur was conceived during a brief affair between Ezra's wife, Lucy, and Billy, is hinted at throughout the film. The “revelation” during the epilogue reminds the audience that the film was not only concerned with Arthur's (temporary) impotence, the aspect that preoccupied most critics, but the deteriorating relationship between Ezra and Lucy.
The source of Arthur's impotence is his relationship with Ezra. Their contrasting personalities and inability to understand each other emanate from this “dark” secret. When Ezra challenges Arthur to an arm wrestling contest during the wed-