In “Joy in the Morning” Richard Chamberlain portrays a law student, but his major field of endeavor appears to be kissing.
He kisses Yvette Mimieux, his girl friend and then wife, on divans, in a warehouse, on the porch, at the train station, in the kitchen, at the hospital and on the bed. Fortunately, nothing ever happens in the bed.
Given this handicap, however, director Alex Segal does his level best.
Chamberlain and Miss Mimieux have been married against their parents’ wishes and commence struggling against the books, marital problems, unpleasant jobs, gossips and other problems normal for newlyweds.
The first thing one notices is that the young couple, as well as Chamberlain’s father, Arthur Kennedy, are all psychotics. Miss Mimieux is alternately attacking Chamberlain with an admirable passion and screaming, “Don’t touch me!”
Chamberlain, meanwhile, is going bugs from all the conflicts. And his daddy is so mad (“I spent 20 years in a crummy clerk’s job so you could have the education your daddy never had and then you pull a crummy trick like this on me, you rat kid”) that he barely made it through to the happy ending.
The film is based on a novel by Betty Smith. Miss Smith apparently feels that adversity is the key to something. Director Segal, on the other hand, is a sex fan and generally concentrates on this to the detriment of detail. We all know sex is fun, but in his perspiring hands, it becomes mostly tedious.
Chamberlain, who all but bursts his well-known, shirted image, and Miss Mimieux come close to rescuing the whole business, despite the opposition. As each new challenge of unlikely emotion appears, they plunge in with admirable determination and at times are positively winning . . .
An Addled Idyl
"Joy in the Morning", an addled little idyl based on a novel of the same name by Betty Smith (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), has enough sentiment and heartbreak to fill several movies; what it sorely needs is a touch of cynicism and perhaps just a glimmer of recognizable truth. Hero Richard Chamberlain (TV’s Dr. Kildare), struggling through law school during the 1920s, elopes with an Irish-American lass (Yvette Mimieux) whose tenement origins and uninhibited candor are purported to be rather embarrassing for him. Actually, Yvette conceals her social liabilities behind a peekaboo brogue and matching hair-do.
Though all dressed up for the giddy era of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joy takes place on a campus that has its spiritual roots in ooze and Oz. Beyond a tiny little bridge spanning a tiny little stream, the two beautiful Young Marrieds find a tiny little dream house in which to adjust. Even their garbage is lovely, crisp and green as a garden-fresh salad. “Sometimes it’s not so bad being poor, the way we’re poor,” says Richard.
Tiny little problems do crop up, however. Sex. Money. Family. When his harsh father (Arthur Kennedy) cuts off support, Richard has to take a night-watchman’s job. Yvette causes gossip when she befriends a pansy florist and accepts baby-sitting jobs at the home of a kept woman. But soon Yvette becomes pregnant, and spring arrives bringing birdsong, title song, birth, graduation, and a proper Catholic wedding. Short of a winning ticket in the Irish Sweepstakes, who could ask for anything more?
Vanilla-Flavored Love Story
"Joy In The Morning" is a vanilla-flavored love story about an ignorant Irish girl from the slums, her tender adjustment to the hypocrisy of a small Mid-western college town, and her marriage to a young law student during the Depression. Based on the best seller by Betty Smith, it has some of the eagerness and rhapsody of her famous A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and draws a fine line between the people who get the cream in life, and the ones who take what’s left.
Joy rises above soap opera, mainly because it’s glorious to look at (like the mouth-watering opening shots, set against Utrillo-like swans, blossoming tulips and pastoral woodlands, and because it is so surprisingly well-acted by Richard Chamberlain and Yvette Mimieux. They are astoundingly good, largely because Alex Segal (the sensitive director of All the Way Home) has turned their coltishness into a part of their personal and visual appeal moving them through each scene like kittens at play - pouncing and purring in love scenes that are about as real as movies will ever get. Everything is done with such honesty and conviction you get the flushed feeling you have wandered uninvited into someone’s honeymoon in the middle of the night. The acting is to be applauded.