Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda star in the movie loosely based on the story of Frank and Helen Beardsley and Helen's autobiography entitled "Who Gets The Drumstick". This movie was also the inspiration for the tv series, The Brady Bunch.
Frank, a widowed naval officer, meets Helen, a widowed nurse working in the dispensary at the naval base, then later returns bringing his distraught teenage daughter in for treatment. Helen and Frank hit it off and decide to go on a date, initially both trying to hide their secrets - Frank has 10 children and Helen has 8. When they learn of each others secrets they try to resist their mutual attraction for each other, thinking they could never make it work with that many kids. But, Franks friend Darrell, played by Van Johnson, is determined to bring them together and sets each of them up with disastrous blind dates at the same restaurant.
Frank and Helen end up leaving the restaurant together with Franks date sitting uncomfortably between them in the car as they carry on about their children.
This begins their dating relationship, and much to their children's dismay, they fall in love and marry. Of course, mayhem ensues as they try to unite their two families, battling step-siblings, arguments over who gets which bedroom, resentments toward the new step-parents, etc. It ends happily, though, with the family pulling together to welcome the new baby, number 19, and learning to love and live together as a happy family.
Lucy plays her role with a wonderful, motherly warmth, and you can actually see the love she has for each of the children. However - she does treat us to some delightful "Lucy"-ish antics. The scene in a crowded bar involving a wandering false eyelash and an uncooperative dress are absolutely classic - exactly the kind of comedy Lucy can do like no one else. Henry Fonda brings a nice, crisp authority to his role and makes it easy to believe him as a Naval officer. Van Johnson has some good lines as Fonda's best friend. The kids are all very well cast, and included some "stars to be" - Tim Matheson, Tracy Nelson, Morgan Brittany and Eric Shea.
Overall, this is a heartwarming film about second chances in life, with a very positive spin on the beauty and bond of family love. What more could a person want in a Holiday film?