First, it wasn’t the Steve Martin version but the original 1950 comedy classic, starring the sublime Spencer Tracy and the stunning Elizabeth Taylor. Secondly, I love this movie so volunteering to watch it again was a no-brainer!
This film has many taglines, and this one: ‘You’re invited…to a hilarious wedding,’ aptly sets the scene for something endearing as much as it is old-fashioned…very old-fashioned. But that’s expected for a film of this era.
Caught off-guard by the sudden announcement his only daughter is getting married, a father must then deal with the impending nuptials and all the rigmarole — not to mention the expense and stress! — that comes with planning a wedding.
Spencer Tracy carries this film from start to finish, arguably playing his finest role as the titled character. As the head of the Banks family, Stanley provides a modest life for his wife and three children, reflected in their grand house and the fact they have a maid. It’s a role where Spencer shines best, where just an expression can make you laugh one minute and bring tears to your eyes the next.
As the daughter and soon-to-be bride, Elizabeth Taylor positively glows. So much so that I wish they’d made it in technicolour so I could gorge myself on the fashion, not to mention Liz’s incredible eyes. We could also blame this movie for inciting her love of marriage since she did it eight times in real life!
Notable mentions go to
Joan Bennett as the flawlessly coiffed wife and mother. Sure, I can’t help but imagine Katharine Hepburn in this role, which isn’t my fault because Tracy and Hepburn together on screen are incomparable. Still, Joan is a brilliant actress in her own right and plays a credible Yin to Spencer’s Yang.
Another worthy nod for the director, Vincent Minelli. An Oscar winner, father of Liza and once married to Judy Garland, Vincent’s lists of movies are impressive, and it’s unbelievable to think this movie was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar and never one ANY of its nominations!
Rewatching this movie, I was reminded that
- It was 1950, and the norm was for married couples to sleep in single beds.
- Billie Burke portrays the groom’s mother, and if her name doesn’t ring any bells, then a) we can’t be friends, and b) you need a movication! Once she speaks, you should immediately know who she is. And if that still doesn’t do it, then this should help!
- Also, one of the Banks kids is played by a very young Russ Tamblyn — billed as Rusty Tamblyn in the credits because he was that young. I know the Russ from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, West Side Story and Tom Thumb and I was shocked I’d forgotten this little nugget!
To sum it up
Father of the Bride is light-hearted and schmaltzy but perfect watching fare for anyone who loves vintage Hollywood movies. You will smile, you may even laugh out loud, but most of all, you will be rewarded with a film that envelopes you in a warm hug, just like a lifelong friend.
P.S did you know there’s a brand-new version of Father Of The Bride out this year?! Watch the trailer now!