Spencer's Wedding Woes

It's only two syllables from Banks to bankruptcy - Stanley

Spencer Tracy in Father of the Bride (1950)

It had been just another day for Stanley T. Banks (Spencer Banks) till he came home and noticed something different; his daughter Kay (Elizabeth Taylor) had a certain glow about her. And then it all came out as Kay announces at the dinner table that her and Buckley Dunstan (Don Taylor) are going to get married and suddenly Stanley's little girl is all grown up and marrying this man who they know nothing about. But Stanley's nightmare gets worse as after having a man to man talk with Buckley the wedding is going ahead and suddenly he has to contend with Kay and his wife Ellie (Joan Bennett) spending.

I have always had a soft spot for the 1991 version of "Father of the Bride" and when I first saw it I had no idea that it was a remake. Since then I have watched the original "Father of the Bride" a couple of times, once when I didn't write reviews and once since. I mention that because it is hard not to make comparisons especially with so many similar scenes although those similar scenes end up different. Take the scene where Stanley and Ellie meet Buckley's parents for the first time, whilst Steve Martin embarrassed himself with his snooping foolery in the remake in the original Spender Tracy embarrasses himself by becoming a drunken bore, waffling on about his daughter.

Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride (1950)

Anyway the basis of the original "Father of the Bride" is the pains of fatherhood as Stanley tells us all about his daughter's wedding as he sits there after the festivities are over. We see how there is the initial shock of dealing with his little girl growing up followed by the fear that the boy she plans to marry could be anything as they don't know him, all of which is handled nicely before we get to the main comedy of Stanley dealing with the bills piling up and a little girl to keep happy. In truth there are no big surprises when it comes to what happens in "Father of the Bride" but every bit of it works and is nicely paced.

Like with the remake "Father of the Bride" works because of the lead actor and Spencer Tracy's characterisation of a father dealing with a wedding is not only spot on but one of his best. Everything from the visual comedy of him putting on his old suit which is more than a little snug to the looks of surrender when he can't get his own way it is comedy gold and as I said one of his best performances. In fact whilst Joan Bennett and Elizabeth Taylor are good as his wife and daughter they end up as support to Tracy.

What this all boils down to is that the 1950 version of "Father of the Bride" is not only still a wonderful romantic comedy but for me is as good as the 1991 version with Steve Martin. The thing is that whilst they both tell the same story and feature similar scenes what Spencer Tracy brings to this movie is different to what Steve Martin brought to the remake which makes them equally as good as each other.

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