Like an outing in the park7/10
Having ran across this film on the Fox movie channel on a lazy Friday afternoon, I can think of no better way to spend a lazy Friday evening then putting in my two cents worth. Especially when you consider the lack of user comments on it. Doesn't every movie, good or bad deserve more than four comments? And this movie isn't bad at all.
The first thing to keep in mind when watching a film like April Love is to remember the era from which it came, in this case the late fifties. Films were pretty much a happy medium back then. The cinemas were devoid of tragedy while the screens were filled with wide screen Technicolor films in order to pry people away from the gray glare of the evil medium in a box called television. I don't know how many people were pried away from the boob tube to see this one, but it managed to capture my attention for 97 minutes.
Teen Idol Pat Boone plays Nick Conover, a young teen sent to live with his Aunt Henrietta (Jeanette Nolan) and Uncle Jed (Arthur O'Connell) out in the country after being put on probation for stealing a car. It seems that his Aunt and Uncle have lost their own son (Jed Jr.)so Uncle Jed seems has lost his zest for living. Aunt Henrietta is hoping that Nick being on the farm will somehow bring Jed out of his doldrums. Story lines like this being what they are, Jed and Nick don't really care for each other too much of course. Nick then proceeds to meet up with the neighbors, Fran (Dolores Michaels)and Liz (Shirley Jones)Templeton. Immediately Nick develops a crush on Fran, and of course I don't have to tell you that Liz develops a crush on Nick. Then there's the matter of Uncle Jed's horse, a trotter who has turned wild and won't let anyone handle him since the death of Jed Jr. You could probably fill in everything that happens from that point on your own, seeing as how there are no real surprises. Doesn't matter though, you'll enjoy yourself anyway.
Once you get over the image of squeaky clean Pat Boone, as a supposedly bad boy, you'll have no trouble with the rest of the film. Considering that, Boone does turn in a surprisingly good performance as Nick. Certainly the role doesn't require much depth, but still it's a nicely done job when you would least expect it. As Jed, Arthur O'Connell is the perfect choice for the role. In the early going, he is unreachable and cold, but as he slowly warms up to Nick, we see that he's really a pretty good guy. Jeannette Nolan is a lot of fun as Henrietta, who is constantly playing the part of mediator between Jed and Nick. Shirley Jones takes a break from Rodgers And Hammerstein and gets a few opportunities to grace us with her singing talents. As Liz, she's gorgeous to look at, great to listen to, and quite funny at times. Dolores Michaels as Fran, who is a bit more on the wild side, is equally entertaining.
The best thing about April Love, is that there is not a true mean conniving character of any sort on the screen. Not one true villain in the whole thing. Everybody is so darn likable you can't help but enjoy the film. I truthfully find it quite refreshing, sort of like putting your troubles behind you and enjoying a summer picnic with friends. Think of it as the old Andy Griffith show with musical numbers, a little more plot, and wide screen Technicolor. The songs are a mixed bag, with the title song April Love being the best of them. Another thing I really liked is that they didn't fall back on using blue screen backdrops during the horse racing sequences, and they quite a bit more entertaining and exciting because of it. As a matter of fact, you'll find the whole film beautifully photographed and it was nice to see they didn't skimp in that department. The chemistry between Jones and Boone is good. Best of all is how the dislike between Nick and Jed is portrayed as each try in some way to gain the others respect.
This movie will never be confused with great cinema. Yet, sometimes instead of going to Disneyland, one just needs a nice outing in the park, and that's what April Love is.
My Grade: B+