Father of the Bride (1950)


Spencer Tracy fronts this lighthearted Vincente Minnelli film about a father experiencing the emotional and financial turmoil of marrying off his only daughter. Elizabeth Taylor plays the daughter and Joan Bennett plays the mother, but this is all Tracy’s show. His droll narration and ‘grin and bear it’ attitude are what give the film its momentum and its low-key comedy. Apart from an effective surreal nightmare sequence, Minnelli doesn’t lean on any gimmicks or comedy tropes. The understated approach may not offer any huge guffaws or truly memorable comic set pieces, but it’s refreshing to see a genuinely funny movie that never feels forced or overly-calculated. Highlights include a chaotic wedding rehearsal and a quiet scene in which Tracy tries to squeeze into a suit he hasn’t worn in twenty years. Look for Russ Tamblyn (West Side Story, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) as one of Tracy’s sons, and Billie Burke (The Wizard of Oz) as the mother of the groom.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Actor (Tracy), Original Screenplay

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