April Love (film)
|Directed by||Henry Levin|
|Produced by||David Weisbart|
|Written by||George Agnew Chamberlain (novel)
|Music by||Sammy Fain
|Cinematography||Wilfred M. Cline|
|Edited by||William B. Murphy|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$4 million (US rentals)|
April Love is an American musical directed by Henry Levin and produced by David Weisbart, based on the novel Phantom Filly by George Agnew Chamberlain (New York, 1941). Photographed in CinemaScope and DeLuxe Color by Wilfred M. Cline, it was the fourth most popular movie of 1957 and stars Pat Boone, Shirley Jones, Arthur O'Connell, Dolores Michaels, Matt Crowley, Jeanette Nolan and Bradford Jackson.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (January 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
Nick Conover (Pat Boone), a Chicago youth, is moving to the Kentucky horse farm of his Aunt Henrietta Bruce (Jeanette Nolan) and Uncle Jed Bruce (Arthur O'Connell), neither of whom has he seen since he was a child. This move, suggested by Aunt Henrietta, is part of Nick’s parole condition after being convicted for joyriding in a stolen vehicle with his friends. The judge agreed to this condition as it would get Nick away from those influences which are the cause of his criminal problems. However, Uncle Jed did not and does not want Nick in his home, and is openly hostile toward him upon his arrival. No one else in the area knows why Nick has moved here besides the local sheriff.
Nick later learns that much of Uncle Jed’s attitude is not against him, but rather against life ever since their only son, Jed Bruce Jr., was killed in the Korean War. Since then, Uncle Jed, who used to raise, train, and race horses for harness racing, has retreated from life and let the farm run down. He has kept only one horse, a spirited and largely unmanageable stallion named Tugfire, as he was Jed Jr.’s favorite. Nick learns how unmanageable Tugfire is when Uncle Jed lets him get into the corral alone with Tugfire, who charges him. Uncle Jed’s philosophy is that it was better for Nick to see rather than be told. This incident and others show that Nick is not drawn to or knows anything about horses.
Nick meets the Bruces' neighbors, the Templetons, when the younger Templeton daughter, Liz Templeton (Shirley Jones), having learned that the Bruces' nephew was staying with them, comes over to invite him to see their farm. Nick is amazed at how lavish the Templeton farm is compared to his aunt and uncle’s. Liz is the tomboy and farm lover, while her elder sister, Fran Templeton (Dolores Michaels), who has a boyfriend Al Turner (Bradford Jackson), is the sophisticate. While Liz rides one of the horses around the track, Nick, ignoring Liz, is attracted to Fran and her sports car, even checking under the hood. Fran offers to let him drive it, which he declines as that would break the conditions of his parole, something which she does not know. His love of anything mechanical becomes evident as he fixes Uncle Jed’s tractor without being told and, with Uncle Jed’s approval, fixes the old jalopy sitting in the barn, which he will only drive around the property if he is able to get it going. Liz, attracted to Nick, helps him with the jalopy just so that she can spend time with him.
Nick begins to spend time with both Templeton girls - although he sees Liz more as a "good sport" and Fran as girlfriend material - and with Al. The four end up getting along well together, despite Liz knowing that Nick is more attracted to Fran than to her. Liz’s attraction to Nick grows after he warmly sings April Love at a dance. On another outing - a barbecue - Nick, who has gotten the jalopy running smoothly, boasts to Fran that it could outperform her sports car any day in a drag race. After they all learn what a drag race is, Fran suggests they could have a race on one of the old back country roads. Against his better judgment (as it violates his parole condition), Nick agrees. During the race, Fran ends up driving off the road, crashing through a fence, and damaging her car. She and her passenger Al are not hurt, only a little shocked by the incident.
Nick is driving the jalopy around the property, which ends up spooking Tugfire, who is able to jump the corral fence and run off. In his scared state, Tugfire ends up getting caught beneath a bunch of prickly brambles. Nick, working meticulously but quickly, is able to get Tugfire from under his temporary prison. Uncle Jed and Aunt Henrietta are surprised when they see a calm Tugfire following Nick back into the corral. Uncle Jed then believes that he can train Nick to ride Tugfire in harness races, despite Nick knowing nothing about horses. Eventually, Nick’s training goes well enough, but Liz believes Uncle Jed is too hard on Nick, who still feels unloved by his uncle.
In the middle of a stormy day shortly before the harness races at the Bentonville Fair, Nick realizes that he has left Tugfire in the open corral, and did not put him into the stables. Tugfire is ill because of the exposure to the elements. Uncle Jed does not blame Nick for the incident, saying that he’s only human. The vet can only do so much, and is unsure what will eventually happen to Tugfire. Late into the night with Nick, Liz and Uncle Jed all keeping vigil but dozing off, Tugfire gets up, and going straight to Nick, seems to be all right. After a quick examination, Uncle Jed believes he is indeed all right and will be able to race. In the excitement of Tugfire’s improved condition, Liz gives Nick a quick kiss, which is the first time Nick sees Liz in a more romantic light.
At the fair, Nick and Liz declare their romantic interest to each other, culminating with them almost kissing on the ferris wheel. About the races, Nick is told that he only has to win one of the two heats to make it into the finals. He and Tugfire do win the first heat, largely because he was an unknown racer, and thus no one paid any attention to him.
In the second heat, he is boxed in by the Templetons' rider, their wheels locked. As the Templetons' rider will not let him pass on the inside, Nick hastily tries to muscle his way through. He crashes and the sulky is damaged. Uncle Jed decides to pull Nick and Tugfire from the finals because he realizes he has placed too much pressure on Nick. Nick, however, wants to race in the finals, with a sulky donated by Mr. Templeton.
In the finals, Uncle Jed, from the sidelines, has in his mind what Nick needs to do, Nick doing exactly that during the race. Nick drives down the stretch to win the race. His victory is overshadowed by the fact that immediately after the race, the local sheriff has come to arrest Nick and send him back to Chicago for parole violation. Not knowing it would cause any problems, Fran filed an accident report about her automobile crash, stating Nick was driver of the other vehicle. Liz steps in to say that Fran was mistaken, and that she was the driver, a story which Fran corroborates. Aunt Henrietta pipes in as well saying that she can also corroborate the story, when in reality she was not even at the scene. Nick, wanting to do the right thing, confesses that Fran’s report as is correct. The sheriff, who earlier had been told by Mr. Templeton to let Nick be since it was a minor infraction and no one got hurt, then asks Nick sarcastically why he would call Liz, Fran and Aunt Henrietta liars. They are all jubilant that Nick is not arrested and is able to stay, leading to a happy ending for Nick and Liz as they all drive back to the farm.
- Pat Boone as Nick Conover
- Shirley Jones as Liz Templeton
- Dolores Michaels as Fran Templeton
- Arthur O'Connell as Jed Bruce
- Matt Crowley as Dan Templeton
- Jeanette Nolan as Henrietta Bruce
- Bradford Jackson as Al Turner
Filming began in June 1957, before the public had seen Boone's first move Bernadine. It took place in Hollywood and on location in Kentucky.
At the beginning of the shoot in Kentucky, Boone was in a car accident while filming a scene. He was a passenger in a car driven by Squire Cummings which was to be overtaken by a car driven by two local girls; the cars hit each other but Boone was uninjured.
Boone did not kiss Shirley Jones on screen for fear of upsetting his wife.
The film was a hit at the box office. Boone regards it as one of his favourites, "the kind of movie I wish I could have made 20 more of: a musical, appealing characters, some drama, a good storyline, a happy ending, it's the kind of film which makes you feel good. I never wanted to make a depressing or immoral film."
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- Solomon p251
- Solomon .227.
- "Info Turner Classic Movies, April Love (1957)". Tcm.com. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
- Harvey Gets Headliner; Krueger Plans Record Saga; O'Connor in Deal Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 13 June 1957: C13.
- FILM PACT SIGNED BY GREENE, ROUSE: They Will Work Separately and as Team in Exclusive Associated Artists Deal Of Local Origin By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 03 June 1957: 30.
- Romantic Pair Cast in 'Girl of Summer' Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 11 June 1957: A8.
- Pat Boone Escapes Injury in Crash at Film Location Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 18 June 1957: a4.
- Film Bid Weighed By Princess Grace Dorothy Kilgallen:. The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959) [Washington, D.C] 01 Aug 1957: C11.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-07-30.
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century-Fox, A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.