Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Movie's Seamy Side Is Too Well Scrubbed

Cleveland Press June 18, 1965

"It isn't so bad being poor. Not the way we're poor," says Richard Chamberlain, a struggling, newly married, poverty stricken law student in "Joy in the Morning."

Being poor for Chamberlain and his bride, Yvette Mimieux, is the sort of genteel poverty that could only exist on the back lot at MGM.

The caretaker's cottage in which they dwell is no hovel but a cozy, cheerful place beside a stream just the other side of that picturesque bridge. And the wardrobe is the sort that a major studio would provide its most valuable stars -- nothing threadbare and frequent changes.

SCRUB AWAY SOME of the gloss and goo and this story of young love might have been slightly -- but only slightly -- more credible.

Chamberlain is a law student who marries a girl from the slums, earns his parents' enmity thereby losing their financial support, and who must then work at several jobs (cafeteria, laundry, night watchman).

The pair fights and makes up and fights some more. With all that work, fighting, studying and love-making it looks as though Chamberlain may not finish school, he's so tired.

After one vicious spat, she walks out on him, not telling him a baby is on the way.

BUT BY THE FINAL REEL they are reunited, he gets his degree, the baby arrives and the sun comes out.

The film is at its best when the setting gets away from the love nest and bumps into some of the harsher realities of life in town. At these moments the screenplay comes to grips with other problems -- the bride's baby-sitting job with a kept woman, her friendship for an effeminate florist.

Chamberlain works energetically if not inspiredly in a stock characterization. Miss Mimieux does as well as she can in a role that is never clearly defined. Females are complete creatures, but this one is unnecessarily so.

As the student's father, Arthur Kennedy comes up with an ersatz Irish dialect in the portrayal of a man who does a sudden and not very convincing about face in his attitudes.

Chamberlain's main appeal is for the teen-age female and in outline the story is right for the market. In treatment it is clearly adult. But then, maybe teenagers know more now than they once did.