In Clinton Jones, Gordon penned a difficult but irresistible character. Settled unarguably into middle age but still fighting it, he chafes at his $37.50-a-week salary (it was 1913) and pores over the grocery list while his wife (Teresa Wright) defends such frivolities as tangerines. A former sea captain, he latches onto any opportune ears like the Ancient Mariner and spins his salty yarns of ports of call on the seven seas. In the dead of a New England winter, he insists on sleeping in a hammock strung on an upstairs porch. The ham in Tracy rises to the challenge, and he manages to make Jones recklessly funny while still a bit frightening (near the end, details of his dreadful boyhood emerge to put his cantankerousness in focus).
As screenwriters, Gordon and her husband Garson Kanin custom-tailored many screen vehicles for Tracy and co-star Katharine Hepburn, where their relationship is said to take the writers' marriage as its model; here Tracy returns the favor by making Gordon's father so unforgettable. Gordon pays a tribute, too, by sketching her character not as she remembered it but as he must have seen her, showing little talent or wit but a penchant for dreaming up castles in Spain. By hiding her own bright light under a bushel, she lets the memory of her father shine.