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A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Joseph L. Mankiewicz |||
Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Mankiewicz directed 20 films in a 26-year period, and was very successful at every kind of film, from Shakespeare to western, drama to musical, epics to two-character pictures, and regardless of the genre, he was known as a witty dialogist, a master in the use of flashback and a talented actors' director.

The 1950 Oscar for Best Picture and Screenplay brought Mankiewicz wide recognition as a writer and a director, with his sardonic look at show business glamour and the empty lives behind it. This well orchestrated cast of brilliant and catty character actors is built around veteran actress Bette Davis and Anne Baxter as her understudy desperate for stardom.

One of Mankiewicz’ more intimate films, this highly regarded and major artistic achievement is a spirited romantic comedy set in England of the 1880’s about a widow who moves into a haunted seashore house and resists the attempts of a sea captain specter to scare her away. This is a pleasing and poignant romance that is equally satisfying as a good old ghost story.

Mankiewicz wrote and directed this witty dissection of matrimony that has three women review the ups and downs of their marriages (with all its romance, fears and foibles) after receiving a letter telling them that one of their husbands has been unfaithful. Once again Mankiewicz deftly utilizes the skills of a well-chosen ensemble, which includes a young Kirk Douglas at his dreamiest.

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Yours, Mine & Ours

By BrianOrndorf

November 23rd, 2005

A thinly veiled attempt to siphon off the “Cheaper by the Dozen” market, “Yours, Mine & Ours” is another shameful family film that doesn’t know when to quit. Loud, abrasive, shameless, and insulting, this remake serves up more of the same to family audiences who’ve unfortunately grown accustomed to this level of cinematic pain. How this junk suckered Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo into starring roles is a mystery that only their agents can solve.


When Coast Guard officer Frank Beardsley (Dennis Quaid) bumps into his old high school flame Helen North (Rene Russo), sparks fly again, and the two quickly marry. Complications arrive when it comes time to merge their two families, totaling 18 kids. With Frank looking to keep tight military control over the brood, and Helen preferring her loving, hippy-like ways of encouragement, the two struggle to maintain a family and home where the kids don’t like each other and refuse to cooperate with any request for unity.

The original “Yours, Mine & Ours” was a mild 1968 production (and was based on true events). Starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda, “Yours” had fun and a charming ease detailing the wild challenges and towering hurdles a family of 20 faced attempting to live as normal as can possibly be expected. It was respectful, calm, and a treat of the era. The 2005 remake (where the true events are thrown away like a hot potato) is directed by Raja Gosnell. That’s right, the man who made not one, but the two “Scooby-Doo” films has been given more work in Hollywood. Run for your life.

Gosnell’s version of “Yours” contains not a hint of charm, nuance, or warmth. The film is a humongous, ice cold, fanged moneymaking machine brought to life by Hollywood suits who were angry that they passed on remaking “Cheaper by the Dozen” years back. Scouring the remake vaults to match that film’s inexplicable success, they’ve resurrected “Yours,” and unleashed the worst family film director around to realize it.

There are early moments in “Yours” that suggest possibly the charisma of Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo could somehow squeeze in there and hand the material a little grace. The two veterans are good at what they do, and their initial romance shows a glimmer of sparks. However, that fades quickly, as Gosnell is looking to create a film that resembles the last obstacle course segment of “Double Dare” over any heartwarming tale of a large family coming together. Gosnell is pandering to the base sensibilities of children with his nonstop scenes of childish pranks, adults falling into various buckets of goop, and pig burping (yes you read that right). Want a fun exploration of a huge family at work? Not here. The screenwriters and Gosnell could care less about the family dynamic outside of the screamingly obvious (including bathroom schedules and the breakfast table). Besides, that would take screen time away from paint fights and music montages where the sugar-binged kids run rampant and trash rooms.

At this point I should mention the moment during a family outing on a sailboat where some of the kids slip and slide around in freshly heaved vomit. Thank you, Mr. Gosnell. I’m glad you consider this family entertainment.

This “Yours” remake would be a lot less of a headache if it wasn’t so obvious that everyone involved watched the “Cheaper” DVD before they sat down to write the script. The two films are almost identical, and in all the wrong, contemptible ways. “Yours” even has the labored extension of heart at the climax, complete with pouty kids and a group hug. Those moments cannot be possibly earned when they’re preceded by such a monumental lack of care in creating an actual story, and not just a series of pranks. Gosnell doesn’t earn any of his counterfeit attempts at emotion, and it’s almost offensive that he would try. But that’s the formula for these things, and heaven forbid Gosnell tries something different.

To compound the fracture that “Yours, Mine & Ours” makes on the moviegoing spine, there’s a sequel to “Cheaper by the Dozen” due in six weeks that’s guaranteed to extend the obnoxious kid carnival even further. We’ve only just begun, but the 2005 holiday season has already left coal in my stocking.

My rating: D-