Two Loves (1961)

Genres - Children's/Family, Drama  |   Release Date - Jun 21, 1961 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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A drama with the likes of Shirley MacLaine and Laurence Harvey ought to be much better than Two Loves, an uninspired, ill-focused and tiring adaptation of a much better novel by Sylvia Ashton-Warner. Ashton-Warner's book, if perhaps a bit obvious in places, provides depth and very clear motivations for the characters. For reasons that are not at all clear, the film jettisons much of the motivation and almost all of the depth, leaving a story that makes little sense -- and when it does make sense, it comes across as terribly trite. All too quickly, the viewer becomes bored with the characters, with the story and with the film as a whole. It doesn't help matters that MacLaine is miscast in a role that doesn't take advantage of her best qualities; she has an admirable rapport with the children, but the viewer doesn't believe her scenes with the adults. Harvey does somewhat better, but neither he, MacLaine, nor Jack Hawkins dig very deep beneath the surface of their characters. Charles Walters' direction is slow and stodgy, and tries much too hard to make the "big" scenes create a forceful impression. Passing California off as New Zealand is another miscalculation; that said, however, there is some tasty color cinematography from Joseph Ruttenberg, which makes the most of the non-location settings.