Thursday, April 29, 2021

Of Marriage And Its Vows-Spencer Tracy’s “The Father Of The Bride” (1950)-A Film Review

Of Marriage And Its Vows-Spencer Tracy’s “The Father Of The Bride” (1950)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Frank Jackman

Father of the Bride, starring Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor, directed by Vincente Minelli, 1950

Sometimes it pays to just not say anything. Take the recent case, my recent case, of being handed a review of a 1934 social/romance comedy/drama starring crooner turned actor (and crooner) Dick Powell Happiness Ahead. There I fumed about the on-going tendency of site manager Greg Green to hand out certain less than desirable assignments under the sign of “broadening horizons” He has tried to pull that gag on many of the younger writers, especially the stringers who after all without the least bit of security have to take it-or leave it- which means another assignment in say 2047. When I thought he was trying to pull that old gag on me I took him up short until he mended his ways by telling me that I was the cat’s meow at doing period “slice of life” pieces. So I did the assignment and he liked it and so he tried to smooth my edges by running this Father of the Bride goof film by me on that same “slice of life” mumbo-jumbo. Be forewarned Mr. Green Mrs. Jackman didn’t raise any kids who it took forever to figure out when he has been had. Enough said.   

I learned long ago from Seth Garth (who I am told now got it from that old hawk Sam Lowell) that when you are up against it for a “hook” on an assignment pull the old chestnut “slice of life then” angel angle out of the fire. But that can only get you so far in some films like this dog since the subject matter is about some young daughter of the leafy suburban upper crust crazy to get married and have her own house and family just like millions in previous generations of leafy suburbanites and those to come as well. Can one who has been married three times though like me (and an amazing number, or maybe not so amazing, of corner boys from the old Acre section of North Adamsville) really do justice to such a subject other than the by-the-numbers social reality of in this case post-World War II upscale complete with servant, black and female of course, family life out in what felt like Connecticut.

Well Greg is paying the freight so here goes. Pops, played by versatile Spencer Tracy who seems a little lost and filled with hubris without sweetie and long-time co-star Katharine Hepburn, is sitting around completely spent after footing the bill for daughter Kay, played by a young and startlingly beautiful Elizabeth Taylor who ironically would have a couple of fistfuls of marriage but was the soul of leafy suburban post-debutante in this one, quicksilver marriage to some up and coming guy from town. Being a guy with no married daughters or granddaughters as of yet I don’t know how a guy in 1950 would take the fall for losing his daughter to some young guy who, well who knows, could be a con artist or serial murderer when all is said and done. All I know is that the father of the bride in those days, now too I would think, has to foot the bill for the big day. That is the easy part when you think about it because the real hard part is dealing with losing that daughter who not so long before was wearing pigtails and braces. Yeah, I can see where that would be the tough part then, or today.

This one though is played seemingly strictly for laughs as Pop is so worried about daughter dear that he gets Mom, played by Joan Bennett in a dither. We get to see every aspect of the wedding process back then, similar to now in many ways although I am not sure, based on my own female kin that such a father would get a feminist seal of approval. No indeed. Such is life among the Mayfair swells and their progeny.

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