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The Catered Affair (1956)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 22 June 1956 (USA)
At breakfast, Jane announces that she and Ralph are getting married the next week. All Jane and Ralph want is a small wedding with the immediate family and no reception, because Jane's ... See full summary »


Richard Brooks


Gore Vidal (screenplay), Paddy Chayefsky (play)
2 wins. See more awards »


Complete credited cast:
Bette Davis ... Aggie Hurley
Ernest Borgnine ... Tom Hurley
Debbie Reynolds ... Jane Hurley
Barry Fitzgerald ... Uncle Jack Conlon
Rod Taylor ... Ralph Halloran
Robert F. Simon ... Mr. Joe Halloran (as Robert Simon)
Madge Kennedy ... Mrs. Joe Halloran
Dorothy Stickney ... Mrs. Rafferty
Carol Veazie ... Mrs. Casey
Joan Camden Joan Camden ... Alice Scanlon
Ray Stricklyn ... Eddie Hurley
Jay Adler ... Sam Leiter
Dan Tobin ... Hotel Caterer
Paul Denton Paul Denton ... Bill Scanlon
Augusta Merighi Augusta Merighi ... Mrs. Musso
Learn more

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At breakfast, Jane announces that she and Ralph are getting married the next week. All Jane and Ralph want is a small wedding with the immediate family and no reception, because Jane's parents are poor and Jane and Ralph can borrow a car for their honeymoon. But at dinner that night, all Ralph's parents talk about are the big weddings they gave their daughters, and everything escalates. Suddenly it's a big wedding breakfast with hundreds of guests. The problem is that for 12 years, Tom has been saving money to buy his own cab and license, but now that he can, all of that money is going towards a wedding that neither he nor Jane nor Ralph really want. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The story of a girl who wanted to lead her own life. See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Craggy-faced Ernest Borgnine was 39 when this film came out, only 15 years older than his film daughter Debbie Reynolds, who was 24. His wife in the film, Bette Davis, was 48. See more »


Real-life radio soap opera "The Romance of Helen Trent" is heard on the radio while Hurley family members are waking up, eating breakfast, and preparing to leave for work; in reality, radio soaps weren't broadcast until late mornings/afternoons and/or evenings. See more »


[first lines]
Bridge Attendant: Morning, Tom! How's the taxi business?
Tom Hurley: How's the bridge business?
Bridge Attendant: One more day like this, I'll own the bridge!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also shown in a computer colorized version. See more »


Featured in Stardust: The Bette Davis Story (2006) See more »


Cailín Deas Crúite na mBó (A Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow)
Traditional 18th-century Irish ballad
See more »

User Reviews

To Live And Die And Get Married In The Bronx
25 April 2008 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Paddy Chayefsky wrote this second ode to the Bronx to follow up what he had received in acclaim from Marty. Though The Catered Affair did not win all the awards that Marty did, it certainly is a well done film with a lot of merit on its own.

The Jewish Chayefsky certainly was a good observer of the other cultures where he grew up. Marty was about an Italian butcher who starts to find romance late in his life. The Catered Affair is about a young Irish couple getting married and the effect a big wedding is having on the family finances and structure.

Ernest Borgnine switches quite easily from working class Bronx Italian to working class Bronx Irish. He barely makes enough to support a wife, two surviving children and a brother-in-law, Barry Fitzgerald who lives with them. One son was killed during World War II.

Bette Davis was at her most drab on the screen, but that's not to say she was not great. Richard Brooks put a tight rein on all her Betteisms and got a fabulous performance out of her as the Bronx housewife who wants to live vicariously through a big wedding for daughter Debbie Reynolds. It's been a hard life for her and the family and she wants a little glamor in it.

Rod Taylor and Debbie Reynolds are an appealing young couple and Robert F. Simon and Madge Kennedy do fine as Taylor's parents. The best part of A Catered Affair is Barry Fitzgerald and Dorothy Stickney as the woman who woos him away from free loading on his sister. Davis and Borgnine certainly had a challenge just to keep the whole picture from being stolen by Barry Fitzgerald in what was really his last great part.

A few people have compared The Catered Affair with Father of the Bride and the problems that upper middle class lawyer Spencer Tracy faces as compared to lower middle class cab driver Ernest Borgnine faces in giving their daughters an expensive wedding. It's that other Bronx family of the same era, the fabulous and illegally rich Corleones that beggars comparison. I look at that wedding scene that from The Godfather and the lavishness that was bestowed on Talia Shire's wedding and who wouldn't want a wedding like that. But I have a feeling that Reynolds and Taylor will make it last, a lot more than the much married Connie Corleone did.

I did so like looking at the Bronx in the Fifties where at least some establishing shots were done. The first time I was in the Bronx was for my first Yankee game. It's changed a lot now, but a place like Morris Park for the Italians and Woodlawn for the Irish still has the flavor of the areas where the Hurleys and Hallorans of The Catered Affair and the Pilettis from Marty lived and worked.

And if you like seeing the New York of your childhood, The Catered Affair is a film to enjoy.

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Release Date:

22 June 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mädchen ohne Mitgift See more »


Box Office


$1,008,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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