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"Father of the Bride" is a mainly delightful family comedy which
benefits from a strong central performance...
One night at dinner, daughter Kay casually announces her engagement... Father and mother react on cue...
Following practically all the events of Edward Streeter's charming novel, the Oscar-Nominated screenplay is a series of comic and warm set pieces: the loving father asks his daughter to invite his future son-in-law for dinner; girl's parents meet boy's parents; prospective bride quarrels with prospective groom... The vignettes are applied with the light Minnelli touch at its most charming, and they are acted with captivating nonchalance by the incomparable Spencer Tracy in the title role and by the beautiful performances of Joan Bennett, Liz Taylor, and Don Taylor
As the complaining middle class father, thoughtful to his daughter's welfare and watchful as to the distributing of his money, Tracy is incredibly amusing... Torn by jealousy, Tracy is all good-natured father exhausted by the complete weight of the problems leading up to the happy day...
But it's an ensemble show, and as the typical spoiled daughter of a typical mid-American bourgeois, Elizabeth has one of her joyful screen moments, altering and urging her beloved ones with such gentle, persuasive, winning, and gracious manners
My favourite performance of Spencer Tracy's from all the work he did in
thirty-seven years in the movies - here he plays harassed father Stanley
Banks struggling to cope with the comedy of his daughter Kay's wedding.
is played by the young and beautiful Elizabeth Taylor, who had just been
married for the first time in real life; and her intended is played by Don
Taylor, an actor I haven't seen in anything else, and can't really
doing anything of interest in this. The family is completed by Joan
as Tracy's wife, and Rusty (later Russ) Tamblyn as their youngest
Although the movie does play up the comic potential of the wedding situation - the dad dreams of losing his trousers as he walks down the aisle, for example - it also has moments of poignancy, especially in the last few sequences where the parents dance together in the post-party mess of their once-pristine house. This kind of thing puts the movie above the ordinary, and is exactly what was missing in the Steve Martin remake years later.
And don't let me forget Billie Burke and Moroni Olsen as the groom's parents - really funny!
"Father of the Bride" is Spencer Tracy's picture. His performance as the
overwhelmed father of the bride is outstanding.
The plot is simple. Stanley Banks'(Tracy) daughter Kay (the beautiful teen-aged Elizabeth Taylor) announces her impending marriage to Buckley Dunstan (Don Taylor). Mother (Joan Bennett) gets into the act and before you know it the bills are mounting and father is going greyer by the minute. There is the usual pre-marriage argument between the two lovers, the ever increasing guest list, a frantic rehearsal and finally the big day itself with father trying to maintain his sanity throughout.
The supporting cast is excellent. Leo G. Carroll is good as the befuddled caterer, Melville Cooper does a funny bit as the church deacon and the still beautiful Billie Burke along with Moroni Olsen appear as the parents of the Groom.
"Father of the Bride" under the able direction of Vincente Minnelli, is the kind of family comedy that we rarely see anymore.
For those who like a light comedy diversion, this was pretty good
stuff. Spencer Tracy is excellent as a "father of the bride" and he
gives us a good idea of what it's like to have a daughter married off.
Of course, Hollywood exaggerates a bit, and not everyone's daughter
looks like Elizabeth Taylor, but that's what made this fun and, I
think, a hit movie.
It must have been a good story and pretty successful for a re-make to be made 40 years later, starring Steve Martin. I watched both versions and would select this one over the re- make. As in most cases, there were more values and family togetherness in the classic-era movies than what Hollywood usually shows today. Nothing against Martin, but it was too difficult trying to top Tracy's performance in here.
This version actually was honored quite a bit, up for a handful of Academy Awards including "Best Picture." I don't remember this movie being THAT good, but everyone's sense of humor is different. Also, not being a father it was hard for me to relate to the mom and dad's predicaments here. Tracy and Joan Bennett played the parents. However, married friends of mine who saw this movie all loved it.
Obviously, some of this is very dated and a little unrealistic. Any father who still sees his daughter as someone in pigtails and tomboyish when she looks like Taylor ain't paying attention! Then again, maybe all dads see their daughters as little girls, no matter what age.
We see something else employed in this film you don't see anymore: someone talking directly to the camera as Tracy does here. I kind of like that. Daffy Duck did that, with hilarious results. So did Groucho Mark. It made us, the audience, feel we were involved with wedding, too.
All in all, still a good film which holds up reasonably well if you can look at it as a farce, and a comment with weddings - something that will never change!
A middle-aged, middle-class, middle-income lawyer has his domestic
tranquillity destroyed when his 20-year-old daughter announces that she is
going to get married. Stanley Barnes, nominal head of the Barnes household,
finds himself increasingly marginalised as the wedding
Tracy underplays Stanley and judges his performance beautifully. He is the staid old dinosaur at the centre of the hubbub. Whereas Steve Martin in the 1991 version played the father as a manic plunger into other people's swimming-pools, Tracy can raise a laugh by lying motionless in bed, staring into space.
Stanley's wife Ellie is played by Joan Bennett, and hers is the comedy of manners, manoeuvring through the various social minefields which she encounters. She restrains Stanley from yelling in front of the domestic help, harbours doubts about Kay and Buckley (unlike Diane Keaton's character in the remake) and gets nervous and embarrassed in front of the in-laws. It is touching for us to learn that she regrets not having had a white wedding of her own, and this gives her a credible motivation for the spendfest which follows.
This film is surer of itself than is the remake, at least in part because in 1950 the social demarcations were clearer and more solidly-grounded. The Barnes family lives in a bourgeois community in which the 'rules' are universally understood. There has to be an engagement party, and a formal visit to the in-laws. These procedural steps en route to the wedding are unquestioned. In the 1991 version, the notion of 'being middle class' has expanded and grown nebulous. The in-laws are simply richer, not socially superior. The milestones towards the marriage are fumbled for - no-one is comfortable with the protocol. Even the man-to-man talk feels inappropriate.
Interestingly, Stanley is able to get away with being a garrulous bore. Martin strives for the viewer's sympathy, whereas Tracy is assured enough to let his character have shortcomings. He does not need to swing from ballustrades to get laughs, because he has enough presence and authority simply to be what he is, and to allow the humour to arise out of the situation.
Tracy can, however, mime with the best of them. The slightly-too-short waistcoat is great fun, and his silent reactions to the bust-up and reconciliation are marvellous. The film contains lots of goodies, like the expressionist nightmare or the quiet moment when Tracy is alone with the floral displays, seemingly hemmed-in by the frippery of the wedding. Director Minnelli is a master at ensemble 'babble' scenes, and this film has some good ones.
Verdict - light comedy, supremely well-crafted
When I watch either this version or the Steve Martin version of Father
of the Bride, I always think of my poor brother now. He's the father of
girls 21 and 19 so he will have to deal with what Spencer Tracy did
This film was one of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's big moneymakers at the tail end of Louis B. Mayer's reign. It certainly has a theme, one that we can all identify with. 55 years after Father of the Bride came out, fathers all over the world will be overwhelmed by weddings. It will be so 100 years from now.
Twelve years after he won his second Oscar in Boystown, Spencer Tracy got an Oscar nomination for Stanley Banks, beleaguered and harried father of one of the most beautiful brides ever to grace the screen. It's on his performance, narrated in flashback by him, that the whole film rises or falls. Of course Tracy never let an audience down.
By coincidence the publicity surrounding Elizabeth Taylor's first marriage came as this film was being made and released. Sad that Liz Taylor never settled down to a stable marriage with a loving, faithful husband as Kay Banks did with Buckley Dunstan. But she sure is a bride for all seasons.
Of course the wedding, the planning, the cost, the disruption to the lives of the Banks household is the film. Who of us who dealt with having a wedding didn't have to deal with a snooty caterer? A formal announcement party that Tracy puts on and can't enjoy because he's stuck behind a jerry-built bar in his kitchen? A wedding rehearsal that can't seem to come off? Universal and timeless themes.
Joan Bennett registers well as the patient and loyal mother of the bride who has to deal with both her husband and daughter losing their minds to pre-wedding jitters. Moroni Olsen and Billie Burke and their son, Don Taylor, do just fine as the groom's side. And Leo G. Carroll is the wedding caterer from snob city. Maybe Clifton Webb could have done it better, if MGM could have afforded him, but Carroll is just fine.
My favorite moment in Father of the Bride is in the midst of all the chaos, Tracy looks at the older of Taylor's two brothers, Tom Irish, and tells him with great relief that when he gets married, his only contribution to the wedding will be him. My brother has to go through two daughters before he can say that to my nephew.
Vincent Minelli deserves all the credit in directing this delicious
1950 MGM comedy. The mere idea of having Spencer Tracy playing the
father of the bride, after his many years of portraying heavier
characters, is in itself a triumph!
The film was tremendously successful because of the casting of Elizabeth Taylor, in all her beauty. Ms. Taylor is an example why more fathers will go into the poor house when their daughters decide to marry, and must have an elaborate wedding.
Of course, those were other times, poor Stanley Banks didn't have to spend so much money to marry her daughter. Had it been today, it must have cost a small fortune to do a modest ceremony with a few hundred guests. The way they figured the cost of the affair was less than three dollars per person! Incredible!
In a way, this picture points out to the basic problems of having a social event of this magnitude when the parents are well connected, as is the case with the Banks. In fact, watching the reception, we realize most of the people attending the celebration are friends of the parents. We hardly see any young friends of the couple, with the exception of the ones in the wedding party. Imagine having to spend so much money knowing most marriages will end in divorce! Oh well.
Spencer Tracy makes a wonderful father of the bride. He was at the top of his career; he makes us believe he is the man losing his daughter and having to pay for it in the process. Joan Bennett makes a delightful Ellie, the mother of the marrying girl. Elizabeth Taylor not only was beautiful, but in this film, one can't keep the eyes away from her for a second.
The supporting cast was excellent. Mr. Minelli brings all these characters together in a comedy, that although a bit dated, will charm anyone because of the excellent cast in it.
FATHER OF THE BRIDE tells the tale of how the once perfectly serene Banks
household, led by genial would-be patriarch Stanley Banks (Spencer Tracy),
deals with the trials and tribulations that come with the wedding of the
family's sweet daughter Kay (Elizabeth Taylor) to her earnest suitor Buckley
Dunstan (Don Taylor). Pretty much anything that can cause a father's hair to
gather even more grey streaks happens in the run-up to this wedding--first,
the bills (as indicated in the tagline to the film) start pouring in... then
he realises that his wife Ellie (a Joan Bennett almost unrecognisable from
her role as Amy March in 1933's LITTLE WOMEN) never got the church wedding
she wanted, so he gives in and splashes out for Kay. The guest lists swell
beyond his expectations and financial means; the caterer belittles the
planned menu *and* the Buckley home; and Kay fights with Buckley and
(temporarily, but hair-raisingly) calls off the wedding. In fact, amidst the
mess and chaos of the actual wedding itself, the father of the bride doesn't
even get to kiss the bride goodbye.
All this might seem mighty familiar to anyone who's seen a 1991 film which, oddly enough, bears the same title, but stars Steve Martin, Diane Keaton and (in a hilarious turn as the effete wedding coordinator) Martin Short instead. The film is, of course, a remake, retaining a great deal of the original 1950 film's dialogue and situations, while updating it for modern times and developing the relationship of the characters further. For example, the two Banks brothers are eliminated for a younger baby brother for Annie (no longer Kay), played by Kieran Culkin. As I recall, the relationship between father and daughter is also better fleshed-out in the remake, as is that between the patriarch and matriarch of the family.
However, even though the 1991 remake is one of the most credible remakes of a classic film ever (I would willingly watch the remake--not something I can say for several other similarly presumptuous films), there are still some areas in which it falls far short of the original. Almost all of these areas have to do with the fact that the remake is lacking its own Spencer Tracy--it is his grasp of the role that makes the original film worth seeing to begin with; otherwise one could just as easily watch the remake and not lose very much in the translation. While Steve Martin does a great job as the title character, Spencer Tracy does a *defining* job. Diane Keaton just about every other scene from Martin (as does Kieran Culkin); Spencer Tracy dominates all the scenes he's in. He plays his role perfectly, with just the right amount of frustration, genuine bemusement, and abiding adoration for his only daughter.
One scene early on in the film captures exactly what Tracy contributes to his role (as he does to all his others): Stanley lies restless in bed, unable to sleep for worrying over Kay's announcement of her intent to marry Buckley. When he wakes Ellie up and starts complaining, watch Tracy as he keeps listing the different things there are to be worried about--he keeps fidgeting on the bed, almost lying back and then snapping upright again when a new horrifying thought enters his mind. The entire scene just rings of truth and you realise just what a great actor Spencer Tracy is, even in slight fare like FATHER OF THE BRIDE.
In the end, although FATHER OF THE BRIDE has a clever script and a generally good supporting cast (Taylor appears beautiful but rather blank most of the time), it is held together by the commanding performance given by Spencer Tracy, and for that reason, becomes a film worth watching. It might also be worth your while to catch the remake, if you haven't already. Both films are sweet and utterly likeable, and a fun way to spend an evening. :)
In one of his best performances, Spencer Tracy carries this film to be better than it would have been in other hands as the nervous and scared father of the bride. His wonderful mixture of firmness and gentleness make him a lovable character that we all can relate to. He gives us the feelings that he is experiencing while his only daughter, whom he was very close to as she grew up, gets married and leaves his life. Elizabeth Taylor is simply gorgeous as the bride-to-be, and Joan Bennett does very fine as the mother. Vincente Minnelli directs very well, but I can't help but wonder if this would have been better in color with all the dramatic settings during the wedding scenes. Nevertheless, the many colorful emotions that come with a wedding, both angry and happy, are finely displayed in this solid, well-made movie that explores one of life's greatest pleasures on the screen. This is a film for all kinds of people.
An excellent vehicle for "Father of the Bride" Spencer Tracy. Mr. Tracy
turns in an extremely engaging performance, under the direction of
Vincente Minnelli. Joan Bennett and Elizabeth Taylor are very
beautiful; they look like they could be mother and daughter. Ms.
Bennett works well with Tracy; overall, the characters form a "perfect"
family. But, this isn't Arthur Miller. Some may find the Banks family
Not to put it down (because it is a great movie), but I was really surprised that this family was "middle class"; they seemed too rich to be fretting about such things. This was 1950s "middle class"? Tracy's was the central performance. I liked his "nightmare/dream" sequences, and his narration helped in understanding the character. The ending, with Tracy and Bennett learning how to be closer, was sweet.
******** Father of the Bride (6/16/50) Vincente Minnelli ~ Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor
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