True: Every time we see a Spencer Tracy movie, we nod and say, “That’s why he’s Spencer Tracy.”
Here, look at the opening scene of the beautifully-filmed Father of the Bride. Tracy sits in an easy chair in the midst of a glorious après-wedding mess. He casually rubs one foot and begins his direct-to-camera monologue with, “I would like to say a few words about weddings.” Then, with understatement, “I’ve just been through one.”
Tracy never seems to act; he just is, which always makes him fascinating to watch. This is important in a comedy like Father of the Bride where intriguing characters are the essence of the movie – because this is the plot: A man’s daughter gets married.
However, in the hands of the great Vincente Minelli, this low-action movie offers so many gems:
- Joan Bennett’s performance as the mother-of-the-bride, a cheerful one-woman tour de force who happily dismisses any concerns about extravagance.
- the trippy Billie Burke. Her voice and comic timing are always a treat.
- a marvelous screenplay, which is the perfect vehicle for Tracy as a lovable curmudgeon who is determined to win just one argument, and never does.
Like us, you may be a fan of the 1991 remake with Steve Martin and Diane Keaton – what’s not to love? – but promise us you’ll watch the original. You won’t want to miss it.
Starring Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor. Written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Directed by Vincente Minelli. MGM, 1950, 95 mins.