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YOURS, MINE AND OURS (1968)

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Discussion after

Numbers mean nothing when love is present in this romantic comedy about a widow with eight children who marries a widower with ten. Star Lucille Ball learned of Helen Beardsley’s story before the Beardsley wrote her memoir, Who Gets the Drumstick? She snapped up the rights and went through a large list of possible co-stars—including ex-husband Desi Arnaz, James Stewart and John Wayne—before Henry Fonda pitched himself for the role. The two had worked well together in The Big Street (1942), so she jumped at the prospect. Ball already had a script by her TV writers, Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Davis, but it was too much like her television persona. When she hired Melville Shavelson, who had worked on several Bob Hope films, to direct, he brought in another Hope writer, Mort Lachman, to help with the re-write. The result still gave Ball the chance for physical comedy, but it was much more rooted in character and situation, with comic scenes about Fonda’s rebellious sons getting Ball drunk and a focus on the logistics of raising 18 children together. The result was a surprise hit that grossed more than $11 million on a $2.5 million investment. Its success even convinced ABC to pick up a new TV series, The Brady Bunch. (d. Melville Shavelson, 111m, 35mm)

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