11/22/12: Father’s Little Dividend

“I’d like to say a few words about what’s happened to Stanley Banks over the past year. You women may not sympathize, but you know how it is, men: He worked hard for years & right when he was on top of the world, they let him have it!”

Father’s Little Dividend is Vincente Minnelli’s sequel to his 1950 movie Father of the Bride. That movie was about a middle-aged man reflecting on his emotions as his daughter was about to get married. One year later, he released Father’s Little Dividend. In the sequel, the same man is looking back as his daughter is pregnant & then has her baby. The principles are all the same: Spencer Tracy is Stanley Banks; his daughter, Kay, is played by Elizabeth Taylor; Joan Bennett plays his wife Ellie; and his son-in-law, Buckley, is Don Taylor. Stanley loves his daughter dearly but is just not ready to be someone’s “Grandpa”! The paternal grandparents-to-be, Herbert & Doris Dunstan (Moroni Olsen & Billie Burke), round out the main characters in this fun, family friendly comedy about aging gracefully. 12 years earlier, Burke was Glinda the Good Witch of the North, the role that made her a star even though earlier in 1939 she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress as Emily Kilbourne in Merrily We Live.


Ms. Burke is not the only connection that Father’s Little Dividend has to The Wizard of Oz, however. It starred the immortal Judy Garland. Does anyone know who her second husband was? That’s correct, the Director of Father’s Little Dividend and Liza Minnelli’s father, Vincente. The couple divorced exactly one week before Dividend’s L.A. release. Vincente, by the way, won the Best Director Academy Award for Gigi in ‘59 and was nominated in ’52 for An American in Paris. Quite a talented family, wouldn’t you say? The cinematography is today’s feature is excellent, especially considering it was shot in just 22 days. Minnelli was renowned for framing his cast in poignant scenes & close-ups. Watch closely: He uses this technique with Spencer & Liz or Bennett on several occasions in Dividend. As usual, we’ll have a brief discussion following the movie.

Father’s Little Dividend’s screenplay was written by Albert Hackett & Frances Goodrich. They were nominated for 4 Writing Oscars – all for films on which they collaborated, including Father of the Bride. Spencer Tracy was nominated for an amazing 9 Oscars, all for Best Actor, winning twice: In 1938 for Captains Courageous at the 10th Academy Awards; and the following year for his memorable performance as Father Flanagan in Boys Town. He was that rare breed of actor that continued to get leading roles well past his prime. He received a Best Actor nomination posthumously in ’68 for his final role as Matt Drayton in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Liz was nominated for 5 Oscars, all Best Actress, and she also won twice: In 1961 at the 33rd Academy Awards for BUtterfield 8; and 6 years later as Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. She was also the recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Academy Award in 1993 at the 65th Oscars.

As you can tell, today’s feature has pedigree. I’ve linked it below, so give it a watch. I promise you won’t be disappointed! 3 Stars.


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