AND BABY MAKES SIX
US, 1979, 100 minutes, Colour.
Colleen Dewhurst, Warren Oates, Timothy Hutton.
Directed by Waris Hussein.
And Baby Makes Six is a catchphrase title for a very good telemovie. It has an unusual subject: a 46 year old woman with three almost adult and adult children becomes pregnant. She receives much advice about having an abortion. Her husband cannot face tying himself down in the second part of his life, to bringing up a child. The woman considers all the possibilities and eventually decides to have the child. There is much valuable material on the right to life, not in a militant kind of way but in focusing attention on the growth of the foetus, its life, especially with photoscan communication to a parent about the child.
Colleen Dewhurst, a strong actress, has an excellent role here and does very well. Warren Oates has an unusual role as her husband. Timothy Hutton, who made such an impression in ordinary People, is one of the sons. The music is by Fred Karlin and direction is by Waris Hussein, a director of many British films and television series as well as another film about mother and child, Thank You Very Much with Sandy Dennis.
1. The telemovie as a vehicle for communicating a message? The wide audience, the emotional impact, the issues and the treatment for the entertainment and apprehension of the broad home audience?
2. The catchphrase title of the film, its tone? Indicating the style of the film or not? Its point of view? The approach of the screen writer and the director to pregnancy, abortion, family, having the child? The aspect of the child's right to life? The mother's choice? The discussions about rights - for abortion, against it, having a child? How well did the film dramatise the issues?
3. The background of the American family, its lifestyle, the bringing up of children, the attitudes of the different generations, the angles on social and family issues?
4. The generations and their relationships, the mutual influence? Anna and her memories of her mother, Serena as a career woman, her degrees, her lack of affection and touching her children? Anna and her reaction against this? Her enthusiasm, a mother who hugged? The contrast of the two women? The value of Serena's advice to Anna? Anna's own children and their reactions?
5. The 1970s and abortion issues, women's liberation, the Right To Life? The discussions about housewives and fulfilment, careers? The bringing up of children? The variety of audience attitudes, reactions to the dramatisation in the film?
6. Colleen Dewhurst as Anna: a strong woman, a big woman, a dominating presence, her broad smile and laugh, her cultured background, her reading, her sympathy? Her attitudes towards Michael and her family? Her discussions with Elizabeth, her worry about Frank leaving home, Jason and his being around the house, her love for her husband, her plans for the trip overseas with Dora, her edginess with her mother? How well did the film quickly establish her as a personality, in relationship to the family? The discovery of the pregnancy, her reaction, handling the situation, her response to each of the family, the clash with Michael, the time at the motel and getting peace? Her foreseeing the difficulties? Her reaction to the pregnancy, the photo of the foetus? Relationship with the doctor? A mother figure?
7. Anna as mother, wife? Her ideas about abortion and pregnancy, medical checks? Her fears and talking these over? The influence of the reactions and the pressures by each of the family? How stubborn was she in making her decision? Her attitude towards fulfilment, and having the child?
8. The doctor and his presentation of the possibilities: Anna's age, health, the various stages of the treatment, the photo, her using the photo with the family, naming the child Sarah?
9. Michael and his dream, as husband and father, his harsh attitudes towards Frank and their discussions and fights, the music evening and his dominance, the preparations for the trip. his dream about the symphony? His trying to persuade Anna not to have the child, his harsh words and their fight, his working with Jason while Anna was away,, his change of heart and meting her on the pier, his giving in and having to face the future? His graciousness towards Anna at the end?
10. Elizabeth and Jeffrey and career, discussions about pregnancy, Elizabeth's harsh attitudes,, the discussions while they bought the dresses? Frank and Marta ? his leaving home, the clashes with his father,, his mother and her fondness and ringing the plant,, her making him promise to reconsider his plans after six months; Jason and his friendliness about the house. his support of his mother,, interests,, talk.. his searching out for the motel, the warmth with his visit? The characters of each of the family? The issues as seen by the younger generation?
11. Serena and Anna's visits to her, her emphasis on career, her advising Anna not to have the baby, taking it very personally, accusations of selfishness?
12. Anna's going away, the value of her being by herself, thinking, the meaning of her life, age, her power of reconciliation, the decision?
13. The presentation of the birth, taking Anna to the hospital, everybody's involvement, the delight with the new child?
14. A film of feeling, sentiment? The counterbalance of ironies with sentiment especially in Anna's remarks and attitudes? The dramatised presentation of the issues of the right to life? The contrast between a cerebral approach, ideas versus reality?