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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Classic Film Review: Father of the Bride (1950)

Father of the Bride stars Spencer Tracy as Stanley Banks, a man who recounts his experiences dealing with the financial and emotional troubles associated with organising his daughter Kay's (Elizabeth Taylor) wedding. Joan Bennett plays Stanley's wife Ellie and the cast also includes Billie Burke as Mrs Dunstan, Don Taylor as Buckley Dunstan and Leo. G. Carroll as Mr Massoula. Also, watch out for an appearance by a young Russ Tamblyn as Tommy Banks.

As a family comedy this film works brilliantly. Elizabeth Taylor is charming as Kay with Joan Bennett also wonderful as Ellie. However, this film is Tracy's through-and-through. The warmth and humour he injects into the role without being too over-the-top is yet another sign of his brilliance and he's certainly cemented himself as one of my favourite actors. His rapport with Joan Bennett is good, but it's his reactions to the wedding insanity that make the film. There's a brilliant scene where he is trying on an old suit, something few actors could make as entertaining and realistic as Tracy manages to.

There aren't many twists and turns in Father of the Bride but it's still very entertaining. It doesn't become mawkish thanks mainly to Tracy, though it still manages to show the very real emotion behind Kay's marriage, and shows a very human set of people. As a Billie Burke fan, I enjoyed her small role and all of the actors who play even a small part make the most of it. You can tell when a film is lovingly directed and Vincente Minnelli rarely disappoints on that score. Overall, this is a brilliant gentle comedy well worth watching over and over again.

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