by Hamilton B. Allen; Rochester Times Union, January 31, 1970
Arrival of the picture Generation at the Regent yesterday gave us two reasons to cheer: It’s a very entertaining comedy which bridges the generation gap in its audience appeal and provides hometown actor Peter Deuel a top-shelf vehicle in which to make his big-screen debut. His performance captures major interest among the picture’s several enticements, a deftly shaded sketching of the intense young photographer Walter Owen who distrusts the Establishment and all American institutions. One would bet that Pete is headed for top stardom if his showing here is a measure of his potential.
In this Joe Levine production he’s teamed with fetching Kim Darby as his nine-months-pregnant bridge, Doris. They’re an idealistic pair whose first scrape with the Establishment comes in the unexpected visit of her father to the Lower East Side loft studio-apartment. David Janssen is the father, a midwestern advertising executive who typifies all the things they’re against. The fat falls into the fire of discontent on both sides when he discovers to his horror that the couple is planning to have the baby without medical assistance—at home. And they’re adamant on the subject.
How dad schemes, secretly, to outwit them (he’s been threatened with banishment by Doris if he tries to interfere with their plans) and provide medical assistance gives the comedy its secondary theme and most of its action. The basic, however, is to scrutinize the gulf between today’s generations and in this the film quietly succeeds. Both sides take their lumps and both win their victories, leavening the vitriol of the original. Mendacity and hypocracy are evident but not in larger-than-life doses.
The comedy originated—as a Broadway stage hit a couple of seasons ago and William Goodhart has redone his script into the screenplay. It is more visual, of course, than when Henry Fonda did it on stage (as the father) which adds interest and some extraneous plot has been trimmed out, wisely. But all the deliciously comic lines, the serio-comic situations remain. They bloom in the put-down confrontations between father and his instant son-in-law who wants only to be left alone to do “their own thing.” Director George Schaefer has an eye turned to the funny side of life’s street and his disciplined style keeps the story light and well paced while allowing the several serious statements on contemporary attitudes to soak into an audience. It is all very real and believable and pertinent as any aware young modern will agree, reflecting the need of understanding between the generations and the willingness to let the young make their own decisions even when they’re wrong.
Carl Reiner adds much pleasure and some of the best lines to the picture as the obstetrician summoned by Dad, an old college chum, for standby medical assistance. The plotting of the two to keep doc on hand without his identity becoming known is vastly funny. Andrew Prine as the father’s coldly efficient agency press relations man seasons the story with salty, silent comment on many of today’s shady business practices.