|Father of the Bride|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Vincente Minnelli|
|Produced by||Pandro S. Berman|
|Screenplay by||Frances Goodrich|
|Based on||Father of the Bride|
by Edward Streeter
|Narrated by||Spencer Tracy|
|Music by||Adolph Deutsch|
|Edited by||Ferris Webster|
|May 18, 1950 (New York)|
June 16, 1950 (USA)
Father of the Bride is a 1950 American comedy film directed by Vincente Minnelli, about a man trying to cope with preparations for his daughter's upcoming wedding. The film stars Spencer Tracy in the titular role, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor, Don Taylor, Billie Burke, and Leo G. Carroll. It was adapted by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett from the 1949 novel by Edward Streeter. Father of the Bride was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role; Best Picture; and Best Writing, Screenplay.
Following the wedding of his daughter Kay (Elizabeth Taylor), Stanley T. Banks (Spencer Tracy), a successful suburban lawyer, recalls the day, three months earlier, when he first learned of Kay's engagement to Buckley Dunstan (Don Taylor). At the family dinner table, Kay's casual announcement that she is in love with Buckley and has accepted his proposal makes Stanley feel uneasy, but he soon comes to realize that his daughter has grown up and the wedding is inevitable. While Ellie (Joan Bennett), Kay's mother, immediately begins making preparations for the wedding, Stanley lies awake at night, fearing the worst for his daughter.
Stanley's misgivings about the marriage eventually make Ellie anxious, and she insists that Kay introduce them to Buckley's parents. Kay calls the tradition "old-fashioned rigamarole," but arranges the meeting nevertheless. Before the introduction, Stanley has a private conversation with Buckley, and is pleased to learn that the young man is the head of a small company and that he is capable of providing a comfortable life for Kay. The Bankses' first meeting with Doris and Herbert, Buckley's parents, gets off to an awkward start, and goes from bad to worse when Stanley drinks too much and falls asleep in the wealthy Dunstans' living room.
Following Kay and Buckley's engagement party, Stanley, who misses the entire party because he is in the kitchen mixing drinks, realizes that his plans for a small wedding have been swept aside and he will be expected to pay for an extravagant wedding "with all the trimmings." As costs for the June event spiral out of control, Stanley calculates that he can afford to accommodate no more than one hundred and fifty guests. The task of paring down the guest list proves too difficult, however, and Stanley reluctantly consents to a 250-person reception. To save costs, Stanley suggests to Kay that she and Buckley elope. Kay is at first shocked by the suggestion, then reconsiders, supports the idea, and conveys that to her mother. Ellie strongly disapproves of eloping which causes Stanley to express his disapproval too, making it appear the idea was originally Kay's.
The plans for a lavish wedding continue until the day that Buckley tells Kay that he wants to take her on a fishing trip in Nova Scotia for their honeymoon. Kay reacts to the announcement with shock and calls off the wedding, but she and Buckley soon reconcile, and the two families begin their wedding rehearsals. On the day of the wedding, chaos reigns at the Banks home as final preparations are made for the reception. The wedding ceremony brings both joy and sorrow to Stanley, as he realizes that his daughter is now a woman and no longer his child. During the reception, Stanley tries to find Kay so he can kiss the bride but only manages to see her leaving for her honeymoon. Ellie and Stanley survey the mess in their home and concur that the entire affair was a great success. Kay calls and tells her father she loves him and thanks her parents for everything.
According to Frank Miller for TCM, when creating the role for the father, the character was shaped around Spencer Tracy. Minnelli believed Tracy was capable of handling a role that balanced humor with fatherly tenderness. After some miscommunication with the producers, Jack Benny was brought in for a reading. He was too comedic and couldn't handle the dramatic aspects of the film. When Tracy heard another actor was being tested, he turned down the movie. Minnelli asked Katharine Hepburn to invite Tracy to a dinner party where he later convinced Tracy to join the production.
The film premiered on May 18, 1950 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The premiere of Father of the Bride took place two days after Elizabeth Taylor's real-life marriage — her first — to Nicky Hilton, an event that MGM exploited in its publicity campaign for the picture. Helen Rose, who designed Taylor's gown for the film, also designed the gown for her wedding to Nicky Hilton. Taylor went on to marry seven more times.
Reviews from critics were generally positive. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called the film "equally wonderful" when compared to the book, with "all the warmth and poignancy and understanding that makes the Streeter treatise much beloved." Of Tracy's performance Crowther wrote, "As a father, torn by jealousy, devotion, pride and righteous wrath, Mr. Tracy is tops."Variety called it "the second strong comedy in a row for Spencer Tracy," with "plenty to enjoy during the speedy 92 minutes."Harrison's Reports wrote, "Crammed with laughs, it is a mirthful, warmly appealing entertainment that is sure to be a crowd pleaser."Richard L. Coe of The Washington Post called it "a cheerful package of smiles and laughter. You'll enjoy it."John McCarten of The New Yorker was more dismissive of the film, calling the jokes "rather wheezy, and they certainly don't do much to speed up the picture. Since the plot consists simply of outlining the difficulties of putting on a wedding, including, of course, the damnable expense of it all, it grows a little tiresome after a half hour or so."
The film was one of the top-grossing films of the year, earning $4,036,000 in the US and Canada and $2,048,000 overseas, making MGM a profit of $2,936,000. It did so well that MGM registered the title Now I'm a Grandfather and negotiated rights for a sequel with Streeter.
Pleased with the commercial and critical success of Father of the Bride, MGM rushed a sequel into production the following year, called Father's Little Dividend, in which Taylor's character has a baby. It did almost as well as the original film and was also made into a television series which aired on CBS during the 1961-62 season and featured Leon Ames (Stan), Ruth Warrick (Ellie), and Myrna Fahey (Kay).
A remake by the same name, starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton and Kimberly Williams as the bride, was released in 1991. It had a numeraled sequel, Father of the Bride Part II, in 1995, with the same cast. As in the original's sequel, the bride gives birth to her first child, also a son. The film was also remade in Tamil as Abhiyum Naanum.
In February 2018, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that remakes of several films are in development as exclusive content for Walt Disney Studios' Disney+. One of those projects named in the announcement is Father of the Bride.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
The original negative was destroyed in a fire in 1978, and all home media released have been sourced from a fine grain master positive. The film was released on DVD in June 2004. It was given an extensive digital restoration and released on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive Collection in May 2016.