A romantic dramedy from 1968, For Love of Ivy is based upon a story written by Mr. Poitier himself. The film, which also stars Abbey Lincoln, features a Quincy Jones score and the supporting help of Beau Bridges, Nan Martin, Laurie Peters, and Carroll O'Connor.
After nine years of working as a live-in housekeeper for the Austin family, Ivy Moore (Abbey Lincoln) has decided that the time has come to quit her job, leave the family's Long Island home, and move into New York, where she can attend secretarial school. The Austins (Carroll O'Connor and Nan Martin as the parents, and Beau Bridges and Laurie Peters as the young adult children) consider Ivy a part of the family and desperately want her to stay on. After wondering if Ivy's desire to move on is because she is longing for romance, daughter Jenna and son Tim step into matchmaking mode, with Jack Parks (Sidney Poitier) being their targeted man.
A playboy with no interest in settling down, Jack appears to run a legitimate trucking company; however, the company is just a front for Jack's real business---gambling---and since Tim Austin knows that, he has the ammunition he needs to manipulate the man into asking Ivy out. Although resentful at being "blackmailed" into dating Ivy, Jack knows he has no choice, and the two begin seeing each other.
Before long---despite being warned that Jack is a piranha---Ivy has fallen for him. How will she react when she discovers---as she is bound to do---that it was all a set-up? That Jack would never have taken her out if he hadn't been forced into it? These are the questions which play out in the balance of the film.
For Love of Ivy immediately followed the blockbuster year of To Sir, with Love, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and In the Heat of the Night. Following in the big shoes of those films, For Love of Ivy seems lame, and at times it's even a bit cheesy (especially Beau Bridges' sideburns!); however, it's a sweet story, with likable (though flawed) characters.
While this film lacks the hard-hitting drama of his other works, Mr. Poitier still gives his usual great performance. He's terrific as a romantic lead---I wish he'd had the opportunity to do it more often. Oh, and he's incredibly handsome here as well! I especially love him in his black suit.
Ivy is totally delightful...she's sweet and kind, yet feisty and passionate. You can't help loving her. Miss Lincoln portrayed her beautifully! And what a classy, elegant woman she is...I was in love with her white dress and white coat!!
Regular readers of my blog know that the excessive nudity and graphic sex in the majority of modern-day films is one of the main reasons I rarely watch anything made after the mid '60's. I think those things are unnecessary, especially when you realize that Hollywood used to give us sexy, passionate fare without it. The bedroom scene between Jack and Ivy is handled in a discreet, yet sensual, way...which only adds to the film's appeal for me.
So...Beau Bridges' sideburns aside, there is much to like in For Love of Ivy. I'm giving it 4 stars, because while not the best movie ever made (and certainly not my favorite Sidney Poitier movie), I like it a lot, and I definitely will enjoy watching it again.
The film is out on DVD (I got it at my local library), so it ought to be fairly easy to track down.