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FOR LOVE OF IVY (director: Daniel Mann; screenwriters: Robert Alan Aurthur/from an original story by Sidney Poitier; cinematographer: Joseph Coffey; editor: Patricia Jaffe; music: Quincy Jones; cast: Sidney Poitier (Jack Parks), Abbey Lincoln (Ivy Moore ), Beau Bridges (Tim Austin), Nan Martin (Doris Austin, mother), Lauri Peters (Gena Austin, daughter), Carroll O’Connor (Mr. Austin), Leon Bibb (Billy Talbot), Stanley Greene (Eddie); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: G; producers: Edgar J. Scherick/Jay Weston; MGM Home Entertainment; 1968)
“It’s an equal opportunity offender: supporting both white and black bourgeois dreams.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An inoffensive dated sitcom romantic comedy by Daniel Mann (“A Dream of Kings”/”Come Back, Little Sheba”/ “The Rose Tattoo”) that’s based on an original story by Sidney Poitier and a labored script by Robert Alan Aurthur. It was the first mainstream Hollywood film to have a serious romantic relationship between a black man and woman; Poitier relishes his part in a role usually reserved for Cary Grant. It comes at a time when the black romance was enough to break down racial barriers, even though the story is not racial in nature. It’s an equal opportunity offender: supporting both white and black bourgeois dreams. Poitier was at his prime after being in such recent hits as “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” In the Heat of the Night” and To Sir With Love.” Why he loved this dreadful story, only he can answer.

Ivy Moore (Abbey Lincoln) has worked efficiently for the last nine years as a live-in domestic for the wealthy white Austin family of Long Island, a TV land family if there ever was one. The single 27-year-old black upsets her employers when she wants to move to Manhattan to go to secretarial school. Mr. and Mrs. Austin (Carroll O’Connor and Nan Martin) plead with her to stay, but to no avail. Deciding that Ivy needs a man in her life, the Austins’ teenaged daughter, Gena (Lauri Peters), and teenaged hippie motorcycle riding son, Tim (Beau Bridges), play matchmakers without their parents’ knowledge. Through Tim, they fix her up with a single black man named Jack Parks (Sidney Poitier), a successful trucking executive by day who at night runs an illegal travelling casino out of one of his trailers. He goes on the date because he’s afraid to lose Austin’s department store contract. Their initial date is awkward, but they soon warm up to each other.

Ridiculous sitcom conventions come up when Ivy learns that Jack was blackmailed into dating her and she cools to the romance. But Jack turns out to be a good Jake and tells Ivy he’s fallen in love with her and even promises to give up his gambling operation. The two depart together, but the joke is that the Austin’s are still left with a domestic problem.

It was as dull, mediocre and square as it sounded.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”