Vintage Movies: “Father Of The Bride”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.


Father Of The Bride (1950, 92 minutes)

Best known for a series of screwball comedies with Katharine Hepburn in the ’40s, Spencer Tracy embraced middle-age as the beleaguered dad of a 20-year old Elizabeth Taylor in Father Of The Bride. The camera zeroes in on Stanley Banks (Tracy) collapsed in an easy chair, a wilted boutonnière drooping from his lapel. He’s rubbing a sore foot, surrounded by a small mountain of empty champagne bottles, torn wrapping paper and half-eaten pieces of cake.

As his blood pressure slowly returns to normal, Stanley has a few choice words on the solemn institution of marriage. “Someday I may be able to remember my daughter’s wedding with tender indulgence. I used to think marriage was a simple thing: A boy and girl meet, fall in love and get married. But I figured without the wedding. The storm broke here three months ago.” That’s when Stanley and his wife Ellen (Joan Bennett) sat with their daughter, Kay (Taylor), at the dining table having ice cream under candle light, when the phone rang.

“I’ll get it,” says Kay, visibly excited. “What’s the matter with her?” remarks Stanley. “I don’t know. Maybe she’s in love,” replies Ellen. “Who would she be in love with?” he asks. “I haven’t the wildest idea,” she answers. “You must have some kind of idea,” he probes as if cross-examining a witness. “Well, Buckley,” she suggests. “Buckley? Buckley who?!” he blusters. “Oh, I don’t know his last name,” she says.

“That was Buckley. He’s coming over in a few minutes,” says Kay. “Where are Ben and Tommy? You’d think those boys would stay home, once in a while,” remarks dad. “Ben’s not a boy, pops,” says Kay. “He’s old enough to have a family.” “At 19?!” bellows dad. “Buckley says that’s not too young for a man to marry,” says Kay. “Did Buckley mention who’s going to finance all these child-marriages? Are you going to marry this character?” asks dad, bluntly. “I guess so,” says Kay, blushing.

Dad explodes, “Who is this Buckley, anyway!? And what’s his last name? I hope it’s better than his first. If he thinks I’m going to support him, he’s got another think coming!” “Stanley, you don’t have to shout. Nobody’s deaf,” says Ellen. “Buckley is the kind of person who wouldn’t let anyone support him,” says Kay, running from the room in tears.

Buckley soon arrives for Kay. “You’d better put on a heavy coat. There’s no warmth in that thing,” suggests dad. “Oh, pops, don’t fuss. I’m perfectly all right,” says Kay. “I think you’d better take it,” says Buckley. “You do? Okay,” replies Kay. “Right then, l realized that my day was over,” says Stanley, as narrator. “From here on, her love will be doled out like a farmer’s wife tossing scraps to the family rooster.”