Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Van Dyke Film Satirizes Divorce

Cleveland Press May 31, 1967

CHICAGO -- His roles range from a chimney sweep in "Mary Poppins" to John F. Kennedy in the forthcoming movie version of the Pierre Salinger book. But there is no indication that success has spoiled Dick Van Dyke.

His hometown of Danville, Ill., still figures largely in the conversation of this international star who leaves for London for his next movie. Among the many newsmen brought here for a preview of his latest film, "Divorce American Style," were several from Danville and surrounding towns. And more often than not the conversation drifted to recollections of old friends, events and landmarks.

Van Dyke admits that "Divorce American Style" hardly sounds like one of his movies.

"I MAY CATCH IT from some groups over this movie," he said with a trace of worry, "particularly from Fundamentalists groups.

"I know the producers are selling it as a comedy, but it really is a serious statement about divorce. The laughs come from reality because there is a funny side to everything.

"I still believe you can say serious things with humor that you can't say any other way.

"This movie criticizes divorce, not marriage. I guess it's a message movie, but I hate to call it that."

VAN DYKE WORKS with youth groups, is an elder in the Presbyterian Church and his eldest son Chris plans to be a minister. But for all that, the actor has some misgivings about organized religion.

"Too often our religion is not relevant to the world as it is today. It's just the building down on the next corner. It's concerned with sex but it doesn't say anything about hate, greed or pride.

Van Dyke denies that he named his eldest Christian with any thought the boy might enter the ministry.

"YOU KNOW WHO he's really named after? He's named after a six-day bicycle racer. We were watching television one night before the baby was born and there was this film clip from Holland. And one of the racers was Christian Van Dyke. 'I told my wife if it was a boy that's what we'd call him.'"