Filmsite Movie Review
Father of the Bride (1950)
Pages: (1) (2)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

- Stanley is completely flabbergasted by the amount of clothing being purchased for the event - including 'two spectator sports suits, one spectator sport... Two country suits, trousers, suit and shoes to match. Two town suits, trousers, shoes to match. Two afternoon dresses, shoes, bags to match. Evening dress, shoes and bags to match. Jewelry to match. One hostess dress, four negligees, hats, furs, six snuggeries, raincoat, a dozen slippers...'; also other expenses include the church's fee, flowers for the church and the reception, dressmaker charges, and fees for a candid cameraman and for an orchestra to play at the reception; he quips: "It's only two syllables from Banks to bankruptcy...What are people gonna say when I'm in the gutter because I tried to put on a wedding like a Roman emperor?"

- at first, there are 572 guests on the invitation list, and 280 of those would be invited to the reception at the house after the church service; Stanley insists to Kay and to his wife that the reception list must be pared down to only 150 guests: "I want to tell you one thing, there are gonna be 150 people invited to this house for the reception and not one more. I don't care how many you invite to the church, pack 'em in, build a grandstand if you want to, but the 151st person who comes into this house is gonna be thrown out on his neck....It's no longer a question of insulting people. This is a question of survival"; Stanley jokes to Kay about how to make the occasion less expensive: "I was wondering, if I gave you and Buckley about $1,500, how would you like to elope?"; eventually, Stanley gives in to the entire guest list: "Look, we're not gonna cut these down at all. Not cut 'em down at all. We're gonna invite all of 'em.....Why of course we can afford it! After all, what is money for if it isn't to give my daughter the finest wedding that's ever..."

- during the scene of Stanley's efforts to negotiate with the fussy caterer Mr. Massoula (Leo G. Carroll) for the event, he decries: "He was willing to take the whole reception over and take us over, too....An experienced caterer can make you ashamed of your house in 15 minutes"; Massoula suggests expensive cake options and the clearing out of house furniture to improve guest circulation: "Hire a moving van to take the things out before the reception and bring them back when it's over," plus a marquee assembled outside in the garden to take care of the overflow from the main house

- when the RSVPs for the invitations begin to arrive, Stanley is dismayed by the many positive responses: "Apparently Kay picked a day for her wedding when nobody within 400 miles has got anything to do"

- Kay abruptly announces that "the wedding's off" during a sudden explosion of emotion, after Buckley impulsively proposes that the couple go on a fishing trip in Nova Scotia for their honeymoon: ("I'm not going to marry Buckley. I found out something about him that's unforgivable...Nova Scotia for our honeymoon. A camp in Nova Scotia, so he can fish for some horrible salmon or something. He knew I bought millions of evening clothes and things. That didn't matter to him. Oh, no. He loves to go fishing, so he decides we're going fishing...If he's just this selfish now, so mean when it's a question of our honeymoon, what's he gonna be like after we're married?...I told him I wanted to go someplace romantic, but he said there was nothing as romantic as a fishing shack in Nova Scotia. We had a horrible fight. I said terrible things to him. And he called me a spoiled brat. I made him stop the car, and I jumped out and left him right there")

- Buckley arrives to sincerely apologize for his awful and selfish lack of judgment with Kay: ("Will you tell her that I'm sorry, that she's right about the whole thing? I was selfish and pigheaded. I didn't realize. I should have asked her. I'll go anywhere, I'll do anything. Just tell her that I'm sorry. I'd give anything to take back what I said. Will you tell her that please?"), and Stanley is forced to intercede after the couple's fight and make things right between the feuding couple, and the two quickly reconcile their differences [Note: In the end, they still go on a Nova Scotia honeymoon]

- once the day of the church rehearsal for the wedding arrives, Stanley notes: "By the time we got to the wedding rehearsal, everyone but me seemed to have lost interest. And to make it even worse, it was raining cats and dogs"; the groom Buckley and the minister Rev. Galsworthy (Paul Harvey) are absent from the proceedings, and the rehearsal run by the minister's assistant Mr. Tringle (Melville Cooper) is totally disorganized and chaotic, and Stanley calls it "a rat race" and "absolute complete chaos" after the Reverend arrives (as everyone is leaving)

- after the botched church rehearsal, on the night before the wedding, Stanley suffers a minute-long nightmarish surreal bad dream about how disastrous the next day's wedding ceremony might be, feeling both judgment and dread; it begins with his description that he is tardy: "I was late. Somehow I couldn't seem to move my feet"; he rushes down the black and white chessboard aisle and in cutaways, he is stared at by the shocked and grimacing guests on both sides; his trousers and the sleeves of his morning coat are mysteriously shredded by the disintegrating and soft tiled floor that bounces, contorts and stretches like a piece of flesh or taffy, and he appears to be dislodged and sucked into the rubbery floor and unable to move down the aisle; super-imposed over the ceremony is a set of his own voyeuristic, giant floating eyes that appear terrified

[Note: Uncredited Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali was the designer of the dream sequence.]

- awakening from the nightmare when Kay at the altar screams in his dream, "Pops" wanders down to the kitchen at midnight where he finds Kay sitting at the table over a bottle of milk and sandwiches; she confides in her father about her worries that the wedding has gotten out of hand: "I'm scared, Pops. Scared to death"; she admits her fears about the monumental wedding about to occur: "But this thing's gotten bigger and bigger and bigger. Oh, I know it's ungrateful of me. Sometimes it scares the living daylights out of me"; he reassures her to not be nervous about walking down the aisle (similar to his own worries): "Now, look, kitten. Get this into your head. There is nothing to worry about. Not a, not a thing. Whenever you've been bothered, I've always been around, haven't I? Well, I'll be around when that Wedding March starts, too. All you have to do is take my arm and lean against me and relax. I'll do the rest" - and then she compliments him: "Oh, you are wonderful. Nothing ever fazes you, does it?"

The day of the wedding dawns with massive distractions and confusion over preparations in the house for the reception, including collisions between caterers setting up and movers taking out the furniture. Stanley's first look at his wife dressed for the wedding and his compliment to her is touching: "You have no right to look like this. It isn't fair to the bride." And then in an upstairs bedroom, Stanley sees his daughter in her wedding gown, reflected in a triple-paned full-length mirror ("She looked like the princess in a fairy tale") - a wonderfully visualized moment. She then mentions: "Well, on to the slaughter."

The assembly and procession of the various bridal parties down the aisle at the church proceeds flawlessly, nothing like Stanley's fearful nightmare, as they uniformly gather at the front altar. Kay helps to direct Stanley before their turn to march forward: "Well, Pops, we're off." As Stanley plays his part to give Kay away, he feels ambiguity and confusion about losing his only daughter:

'Who giveth this woman?' 'This woman?' But she's not a woman, she's still a child, and she's leaving us. What's it going to be like to come home and not find her? Not to hear her voice calling, 'Hi, Pops' as I come in. I suddenly realized what I was doing. I was giving up Kay. Something inside me began to hurt.

After the vows are taken, Kay pauses and gives Stanley one last adoring look as she comes down the aisle after the ceremony.

The film concludes with the chaotic reception back at the Banks home, as Stanley describes (in voice-over): "Now the race was on, to get back to the house and the free champagne. The house was bursting at the seams. Everywhere I looked there were faces, most of them I'd never seen before. I wondered if someone had broadcast a general invitation by radio. The temperature under the marquee was midway between a Turkish bath and a greenhouse. No one was listening to the orchestra. Ellie could have saved that 85 bucks. The caterer was having his trouble, too. Something was wrong, very wrong, with his circulation....But there was nothing wrong with the waiters. The moment a person tilted a glass, they were waiting at his elbow with a fresh supply. Never have I seen men more devoted to their work. I was looking for Kay. I still hadn't kissed the bride."

Missing her throughout the entire reception in the crowded house, in the midst of the hubbub and catering staff and the crush of the hordes of guests, Stanley fails to see the throwing of Kay's bouquet from the front indoor staircase, and only catches a glimpse of her departing in the newlyweds' car. Crestfallen, he thinks to himself (in voice-over): "She was gone. My Kay was gone. And I'd been too late to say goodbye to her." Later after the last guests depart, Stanley surveys the "wreckage" in the house with Ellie, and suddenly feels how empty the house has become.

He is called by Kay on her way (at the NY train station) to her honeymoon (in Nova Scotia to "catch a lot of fish") to offer a heartfelt, belated thank you and goodbye:

And Pops, you've been just wonderful. I love you. I love you very much....Bye bye.

Stanley delivers the memorable last lines of the film:

Nothing's really changed, has it? You know what they say: 'My son's my son until he gets him a wife, but my daughter's my daughter all of her life.' All of our life.

He takes his wife to dance a last sentimental waltz in their living room to the tune of their phonograph playing: "Goodnight, Sweetheart." The camera pulls away in a lengthy reverse dolly shot, moving through the entire house and then retreating through the French windows (framing them) to the darkness of the outside garden.

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