FILMS… Father’s Little Dividend (1951)

#1950s

 

They’re having my grandchild!

 

This charming comic original sequel tells of Stanley Banks in the run up becoming a first time grandfather.

 

FATHER’S LITTLE DIVIDEND TRAILER, ripper039 and photos © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

 

Today’s review is Father’s Little Dividend (1950), the sequel to Father of the Bride (1950). Father of the Bride introduced us to the Banks family and told us about the announcement and preparations for the wedding of Stanley Banks’ only daughter.

Father’s Little Dividend was narrated by the grandfather to be himself, played by Spencer Tracy. Father of the Bride was nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor in a Lead Role for Tracy.  Both were remade decades later with a cast including Steve Martin as George Banks (was Stanley), Diane Keaton as his wife and Kimberly Williams Paisley as his daughter.

Father’s Little Dividend is like International Velvet (1978), in that it can also be seen as a stand-alone movie. The writers won a writer’s award. Director Vincente Minnelli was nominated for a Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures award for the film. Vincente Minnelli directed both movies, and directed Father’s Little Dividend in 22 days, while he waited for his An American in Paris (1951) sets to be built. The writers also won a writer’s award.

Father’s Little Dividend reunited Tracy with the original cast of Joan Bennett playing his wife Ellie and a young Elizabeth Taylor playing his daughter, Kay. The cast playing Kay’s screen husband Buckley (Don Taylor) and screen in-laws, the Dunstans – Doris (Billie Burke) and Herbert (Moroni Olsen) also returned. The title is explained by Joan Bennett during the movie. This that as grandparents they can enjoy all the perks but none of the responsibilities of having a grandchild, like a dividend.

The story starts in a similar way to the first movie with Banks sitting in his favourite armchair and next to him is a wedding photograph of his daughter.  Then he talks to us via the fourth wall about how his life changed in the last year. We then flashbackwards to the previous year.

Banks tells us of his optimism as everything is going well for him and his family. He meets his family at home and after he surprises his wife with a passionate kiss, she tells him they are visiting his daughter. Then he shares his happiness with his wife, saying they should take a holiday. On their arrival, they reunite with the Dunstans and believing the champagne is to celebrate a new work contract Banks is shocked when Kay announces her pregnancy.

While the others are happy for her,  Banks is almost shell-shocked – he feels he is too young to be a grandfather – and upset for the couple – and their flat is too small and Kay is just a child herself. Ellie in contrast is overjoyed and ecstatically wakes their sons, phones her friends and organises a baby shower. She even suggests the newlyweds move in with their family, and makes plans on how to rearrange their home to accommodate them and the baby.

However, the in-laws at their next meeting have beaten them to it, and have even consulted their architect with the blueprints to prove it. Banks is upset for his wife at this time, but Kay turns them down. The newlyweds have now bought a house, and Ellie throws her energies into creating a home for her grandchild but is upset that the Dunstans will organise the nursery with all the mod cons.

Ironically decorating the room with characters from The Wizard of Oz (1939) which starred Burke as the Good Witch, and a nice wee in-joke for her and Minnelli’s then-wife Judy Garland. The two sets of in-laws then have a heated discussion on baby matters at length with conflicting views of what is good or bad advice for Kay’s pregnancy.

Kay becomes upset by this, and during a further argument over a suitable name, she runs from the room. Afterwards, she asks for her father, and they have a touching scene where he supports his daughter. However, two months later, he gets a phone call in the wee small hours asking if Kay is there. It’s Buckley, who tells Banks he and Kay have had a fight and she’s left him…

The film’s initial scenes include Banks in his favourite armchair, it is a nice touch reminiscent of the first movie. It was also a nice touch, in these scenes as we connected with Banks when he spoke to us via the fourth wall.  Both these attributes, used in the movies – and their remakes – were used to great effect.

In watching the remake of Father of the Bride, my father was impressed they kept these touches in from the originals. It was also nice that the casting was the same in both movies which added to the character’s development, and something sadly lost in many sequels. It was lovely to have a film from a father’s viewpoint of proceedings, and his feelings towards being a grandparent. The highlights included a nice, wee and amusing montage of his fellow grandparents.

The scenes between Taylor and Tracy need special mention. They were well written and performed sweetly by her and tenderly by him. The actors made these scenes so delightful, that you could almost feel the bond between the characters and their relationship. Tracy played his character convincingly, and you felt part of the movie, easily feeling each part of his transformation from shell-shocked to proud grandfather.

Just to mention the remake, Father of the Bride (1991) is enjoyable and well cast, fun and continues the Bon Ami from these movies. However, despite the inclusion of some of the better attributes from Father’s Little Dividend, this remake’s sequel, Father of the Bride Part II (1995) has some new plotlines that you won’t be expecting.

 

Weeper Rating:  😦 😦  😦  /10

Handsqueeze Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂  /10

Hulk Rating: ‎ ‎ mrgreen /10

 


 

Vincente Minnelli Blogathon 2016, No 31 and The MGM Blogathon 2022, No 16

This review was included as part of the Vincente Minnelli Blogathon run by Love Letters to Old Hollywood. It was also added to Silver Scenes 2022 The MGM Blogathon. Vincente Minnelli also features in the review of Judy Garland’s biopic film Me and My Shadows. Elizabeth Taylor also stars in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a biography on her friendship with Montgomery Clift and X, Y and Zee / Zee and co. Joan Bennett stars in This House Possessed. Spencer Tracy stars in Guess Whos Coming To Dinner?


 

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12 thoughts on “FILMS… Father’s Little Dividend (1951)

  1. I love Steve Martin, so I’ve been meaning to see the remake of Father of the Bride, but I haven’t quite gotten to it yet. As for Father’s Little Dividend, I’m really glad that the same cast and director were able to return. You’re right that that isn’t something that most sequels get. I’ve heard that Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor adored each other — for the rest of his life, she called him “Pop” and he called her “kitten,” just like in the movie.

    Thanks for contributing! I appreciate it!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I hope I can do a double feature of the two films someday! Also, I’m curious to see how a film made during the Code tackled pregnancy – I mean, some years later Lucy couldn’t even use the word pregnant in I Love Lucy!
    Kisses!
    Le

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And now there is a new “Father of the Bride” with Andy Garcia. I guess, like “A Star is Born,” this story – and the sequel – has staying power. However, it is really hard to beat the charm and warmth of the original. I never find Tracy to be a particularly warm actor, but you are correct – his scenes with Elizabeth are quite tender.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would recommend him in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, there is one scene he does a lovely touching monologue.. wont tell you more in case you planning on seeing it. But would definitely recommend him in this film.

      Like

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