Filmsite Movie Review
Father of the Bride (1950)
Pages: (1)

Father of the Bride (1950) is a comedy of the travails and joys of a harrassed father experiencing his only daughter's expensive wedding. Its tagline was an apt description of the father's dilemma:

The Bride gets the THRILLS! Father gets the BILLS!

The beloved MGM comedy was unnecessarily modernized as Father of the Bride (1991), starring Steve Martin as the beleaguered father George Banks, with Diane Keaton as his wife Nina, and Kimberly Williams as daughter Annie. [Note: There was also a sequel: Father of the Bride Part II (1995).]

The Story

The satirical film of the rites of matrimony opens with a memorable scene. Well-to-do lawyer Stanley T. Banks (Spencer Tracy), collapsed in a chair, looks back on the wedding he has just lived through, sitting amidst a pile of left-over debris from the reception in his suburban home, surveying the wreckage. He tells the audience:

I would like to say a few words about weddings. I've just been through one. Not my own, my daughter's. Someday in the far future, I may be able to remember it with tender indulgence, but not now. I always used to think that marriage was a simple affair. Boy and girl meet, they fall in love, get married, they have babies. Eventually the babies grow up, meet other babies, and they fall in love and get married, and so on and on and on. Looked at that way, it's not only simple, it's downright monotonous. But I was wrong. I figured without the wedding.

He tells the story of his beautiful daughter Kay's (Elizabeth Taylor) announcement of her engagement and all the ceremonial requirements and events leading up to the wedding over a period of three months.

There are many memorable scenes, including:

- his thinking about which of her suitors is the lucky man

- his desire to "get a peek at this Superman," her fiancee, Buckley Dunstan (Don Taylor) and the lengthy "man-to-man" talk they have to determine if he can suitably support Kay

- meeting and getting to know the in-laws with his wife Ellie (Joan Bennett)

- the engagement party where he is advised "from now on, your only function is to pay the bills."

- his exasperated reactions to how everyone else is spending his money

- creating the guest list and negotiating with the caterer for the event, "An experienced caterer can make you ashamed of your house in fifteen minutes."

- Kay's announcement that "the wedding's off" and his intercession after the couple's fight

- his nightmarish bad dream about how disastrous the wedding ceremony might be

- the midnight snack kitchen scene with Kay ("Kitten") and her "Pops" over a bottle of milk where she tells him, "Nothing ever fazes you, does it?"

The day of the wedding dawns with massive distractions, chaos and confusion over preparations in the house. His first look at his daughter in her wedding gown is wonderfully done. Stanley feels ambiguity and confusion about losing his only daughter:

What's it going to be like to come home and not find her. Not to hear her voice calling 'Hi Pops' as I come in. I suddenly realized what I was doing. I was giving up Kay. Something inside me was beginning to hurt.

Kay gives him one last adoring look as she comes down the aisle after the ceremony.

Missing her throughout the entire reception, she calls him on her way to her honeymoon to say thank you and goodbye:

And Pops, you've been just wonderful. I love you. I love you very much. Bye bye.

Stanley delivers the memorable last lines of the film:

Nothing's really changed, has it? You know what they say: 'My son's my son until he gets him a wife, but my daughter's my daughter all of her life.' All of our life.