(director: Melville Shavelson; screenwriter: from the book “Who Gets The Drumstick?” by Helen North Beardsley)/based on a story by Madelyn Davis & Bob Carroll Jr./Mort Lachman; cinematographer: Charles F. Wheeler; editor: Stuart Gilmore; music: Fred Karlin; cast: Lucille Ball (Helen North), Henry Fonda (Frank Beardsley), Van Johnson (Darrel Harrison, Warrant Officer), Tom Bosley (Family Doctor), Tim Matthieson (Mike Beardsley), Louise Troy (Madeleine Love), Suzanne Cupito (Louise Beardsley), Eric Shea (Phillip North); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert F. Blumofe; United Artists; 1968)

“The too cutesy story is almost saved by stars Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda, who are perfect as the mature awkward seekers of a second love.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A strong family-friendly domestic comedy based on the true story of the merging families of a Navy widower and Navy widow. It’s adapted from the 1964 book “Who Gets The Drumstick?” by Helen Eileen North (but significantly changed and prettied up) and adequately scripted by Mort Lachman. Veteran director Melville Shavelson (“Cast A Giant Shadow”/”It Started in Naples”) keeps it lighthearted, amusing, pro-Catholic, vacuous and looking like a TV sitcom. The too cutesy story is almost saved by stars Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda, who are perfect as the mature awkward seekers of a second love. Otherwise the film grows increasingly irksome as it wavers between predictable comical incidents and overly sentimental tender moments reflecting its anti-sex and reactionary political stands. There’s no mention of the Vietnam War, but there’s ugly jibes taken against long hair males and there are sober-minded puritanical sermons while in the next breath it plays coy with smutty bedroom farce antics.

Naval officer Frank Beardsley is the recent widowed father of ten children. He has gone on his last tour of duty at sea and now will be permanently stationed at a San Francisco Naval base, as he tells best friend bachelor Warrant Officer Darrel Harrison (Van Johnson) that he’ll now have to take care of the children and has no idea how he’ll manage that challenge–which he relates to a state of war. Helen North (Lucille Ball) is a widowed mother of eight, who works as a nurse at the same Naval base. They meet at the commissary and again when Frank brings daughter Louise to the dispensary and Helen treats her for a female problem. They go on a first date to dinner and later to a crowded pub to have an Irish coffee, but both find it difficult to fess up and tell the other how many children they each have. The other so-called funny moment has Helen losing her slip on that first date. Soon they marry, but the new arrangement is far from smooth as the children are not that accepting of the change.

Lucy does her familiar TV shtick, making funny facial expressions and talking in a shrill voice; while Fonda shows he’s a fish out water when trying to act as both father and mother to his kids. Things get even more hectic but not more funny when a nineteenth is on the way.

“Yours, Mine and Ours” is in the tradition of “Cheaper by the Dozen,” but has no edge as it runs with its middle-class old-fashioned faith-based values which should please many in the audience much more than it did me. I found all the awkward moments just awkward and not particularly funny.

A remake has just been released, which is not even as good as this so-so work.