Monday, September 06, 2010

Father of the Bride

1950, US, directed by Vincente Minnelli

Another of Vincente Minnelli's portraits of American family life, Father of the Bride might lack the sustained visual flair of Meet Me in St Louis but Minnelli consistently introduces striking ideas to what starts out as a comedy of family manners (and which features some terrific comic performances).

There's an amusing montage sequence early on when Spencer Tracy casts his mind back over his daughters' many beaus, several of whom seem like bad dreams waiting to happen, before Minnelli throws Tracy into a real nightmare on the eve of the wedding, his mind filled with terrifically strange, surreal images, such as the floor which threatens to swallow him up. Of course, floating beneath everything are the father's authentic fears of replacement, an idea beautifully, and rather subtly, conveyed as the camera pulls back when the young bride and her successful suitor reach the altar, with Tracy fading into the background to pick up the bills. It's a simple gesture that nonetheless conveys everything about the shift in alliances.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States