Joan Bennett

Father of the Bride (1950)

Father of the BrideUpon getting the news that their daughter Kay (Elizabeth Taylor) is getting married to her boyfriend Buckley (Don Taylor), Stanley and Ellie Banks (Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett) are immediately thrown into the whirlwind of planning a wedding.  While Ellie is largely enthusiastic about Kay’s impending nuptials, Stanley isn’t as easygoing about the whole thing.

Of course, there wouldn’t be much of a movie if the wedding plans went smoothly.  First Stanley worries that Kay might be marrying a good-for-nothing lowlife, but when those fears are put to rest, every new event brings on a new source of anxiety for Stanley.  First Stanley and Ellie go to meet Buckley’s parents and Stanley accidentally drinks too much.  Then during the engagement party, few guests are interested in the large batch of martinis Stanley has made for the occasion so he spends the entire party in the kitchen playing bartender.

At first, Kay only wants a small, simple wedding.  But since Ellie has always regretted not having a large wedding of her own, she wants to give Kay the wedding she never had.  Stanley puts his foot down at a maximum of 150 guests, but that number quickly grows to 250.  The whole wedding planning process is enough to make Stanley consider paying Kay to just elope already.  And when the RSVP cards are rolling in, Kay wants to call the whole wedding off after getting into a fight with Buckley.  But they quickly work things out and the wedding goes on as planned.  When all is said and done, Stanley decides all the stress was worth is.

Father of the Bride is completely charming and an absolute delight.  This is a movie that just gets it exactly right in every way.  Spencer Tracy’s performance is nothing less than a joy to watch.  And when you take his performance and combine it with Joan Bennett, direction from Vincente Minnelli, and a wonderful screenplay, you have a real winner of a movie.  It’s very funny, warm, and sentimental without being sappy.  Plus, who could ever forget that shot when we first see Elizabeth Taylor, looking positively radiant, in her wedding gown?  Simply put, Father of the Bride is a real must-see movie.

What’s on TCM: April 2013

Olivier, Laurence_01Looks like we’re in for another busy month on TCM!  TCM has finally broken their long streak of making actresses the Star of the Month by giving the honor to Laurence Olivier in April.

Starting this month, every Friday night will be dedicated to a new series called Friday Night Spotlight.  Each month, Robert Osborne and a different guest co-host will introduce films dealing with a particular theme.  The first Friday Night Spotlight co-host is Cher, who has selected a number of movies with strong female characters, focusing on themes such as motherhood and women in the workplace each week.

If you’re a fan of TCM Underground, be sure to note that starting this month, it has been moved from Friday to Saturday nights.  The 2:00 AM start time remains the same, though.

(more…)

Me and My Gal (1932)

When police officer Danny Dolan (Spencer Tracy) and his partner have to jump into the water to save a man, unfortunately they let gang leader Duke Castenega (George Walsh) get away in the process.  Duke is the ex-boyfriend of Kate Riley (Marion Burns), who works at the bank in town.  Kate is about to get married, but she still carries a torch for Duke and he plans to use her to get the combinations to all of the bank’s safety deposit boxes.  But Kate goes ahead with her wedding and before long, Duke finds himself in prison, but he doesn’t stay there for long.  He makes a daring escape and instantly becomes the most wanted man in town.

It just so happens that Kate is the sister of Helen Riley (Joan Bennett), a waitress that Danny has been flirting with.  Once they finally start dating, it doesn’t take long for them to realize where Duke is hiding — in Kate’s attic.  Even though they don’t realize it before Duke’s gang pulls off a huge bank robbery, Danny is able to nab Duke, make sure that Kate’s name is kept clear, and have a happy ending with Helen.

Me and My Gal is a nice blend of romance, comedy, and gangster film highlighted by the outstanding chemistry between Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett.  It took me a little while to really get into the movie since I didn’t particularly care for the all the focus on the drunk guy in the beginning. But once the movie found its footing, I really did enjoy it.  The teaming of Tracy and Bennett completely made the movie.  Spencer has said that he considered Father of the Bride to be something of an unofficial follow-up to Me and My Gal.  He and Joan played off of each other so well and Bennett absolutely nailed it with all of her witty lines.  Overall, perhaps not one of the best of either of their careers, but still a very nice gem nonetheless.