Nick Conover (Pat Boone), a small-time thief and generally trouble-making young man, is sent from Chicago to his uncle’s Kentucky horse farm after being put on probation and losing his driver’s license for “borrowing” a car.
Nick isn’t exactly happy about his new life of living and working on a farm. His family doesn’t treat him with a very welcoming attitude either, since they lost a son of their own and haven’t fully recovered form that loss.
Nick is not accustomed to living in the middle of nowhere, and he finds himself bored and lonely… that is, until he realizes that there’s a beautiful, sweet neighbor girl named Liz (Shirley Jones) for him to fall in love with.
Henry Levin directs April Love (1957), a musical drama with a summery visual palette. It’s based on “Phantom Filly,” a novel (serialized in The Saturday Evening Post) by George Agnew Chamberlain. The title song, “April Love,” was nominated for an Academy Award.
The music is one of the brightest aspects of the film. “April Love” is a delightful song and Boone performs it well. In December 1957, it hit the top of the Billboard charts.
The film itself is a bit of an acquired taste. It’s a well-known fact on this blog that I love things that are cheesy. To rely on a cliché joke, I talk about cheese so much that I’ve probably turned some of my readers vegan and/or lactose intolerant.
This is a film that delivers in the cheese department, but not in a “so bad it’s funny sort of way.” The thing about this film is that it’s pretty much complete fluff. Beautiful, cotton candy-colored 1950s fluff. It sometimes gets sappy and overly sentimental. It even has an injured animal that miraculously springs back to life!
But if you’re like me and don’t mind the fluff, this is a decent flick, especially if you’re in the mood for a light and generally happy watch. It’s billed as a drama, but the music is fun and there’s some romance and comedy at play. The drama doesn’t make the film at all serious.
That being said, there are a few problems here, even for those of us who could live on cheese for the remainder of our lives. The performances become terribly over-dramatic on more than one occasion (again, not in the “so bad it’s good” way), and the pace is a bit slow throughout most the film.
What it’s lacking is a high level of viewer engagement, and it that sense it probably could have benefited from a slightly more balanced drama-fluff ratio.
The score: 3/5