Nick and Emily Rocco (Richard Conte and Judy Holliday) are a happily married couple expecting their first child. When repairs to a rotten kitchen floor will cost more than they can afford, Nick and Emily pay a visit to Nick's parents in Northern California, hoping that Nick's father (Salvatore Baccaloni) will come stay with them and fix the floor himself.
"Papa" comes to visit, and while he takes his sweet time repairing the floor, he and Nick slowly repair their relationship. Nick also begins to find his way back to church, which he realizes he'd stopped attending simply to thwart his father.
It's a gentle movie about nothing and everything: family, faith, and relationships. Nick and Emily's highly functional marriage is a delight to watch; Holliday in particular plays a sunny, smart woman who admirably combines frank honesty and warm-hearted affection. It's a wonderfully written role and a terrific performance. Since I'm mostly familiar with Conte from his film noir credits, I enjoyed seeing him in an atypical role as an introspective writer and loving, supportive husband.
The film also presents an unusually realistic depiction of pregnancy for the era, although I thought Emily was just a wee bit too spry at times for a woman due to give birth soon. (There's also the typical '50s moment which is somewhat shocking to the modern viewer, as Emily lights up a cigarette.) I loved the scenes where Emily feels like a beached whale and bemoans how long pregnancy takes; any woman who's waited through those final endless weeks can relate!
Esther Minciotti plays Conte's mother, reprising the same familial relationship she had with him in HOUSE OF STRANGERS (1949). This time around, happily, their characters have a much better relationship.
It's interesting to contemplate a time when even a couple not very well off can afford to have hired help. (Delia, the maid, is played by Amanda Randolph.) A doctor who makes house calls and home delivery of groceries makes the lifestyle look quite idyllic.
The film has some nice shots of mid-'50s Southern California suburbia. The church seen near the end of the movie is identified by IMDb as St. Monica's, a large, well-known church in Santa Monica. In fact, I think the priest (Joe De Santis) says he's from St. Monica's at one point.
This 91-minute film was directed by Richard Quine, whose credits also include BELL BOOK AND CANDLE (1958) and IT HAPPENED TO JANE (1959). John Fante wrote the screenplay, adapting it from his own novel. The black and white cinematography was by Charles Lawton Jr.
FULL OF LIFE has been released on VHS. It does not appear to have ever had a DVD release. Hopefully at some point this Columbia film will turn up in the Columbia Classics manufactured-on-demand program.
It's been shown on Turner Classic Movies.