June 11, 2012

Movie Monday: Life With Father

Boy, this was a tough week. I’ve got a BUNCH of honorable mentions for you at the end – please don’t miss them – but there wasn’t any questions which TCM feature would be the main attraction today!

Source: imdb.com via Jaci on Pinterest


Mr. and Mrs. Day are the parents of four boys in a turn-of-the-century NYC household. Mr. Day (William Powell) is a banker who likes his household run according to a certain order – his order. Mrs. Day (Irene Dunne) is his sweet-natured wife who comes across at first of being a little bird-brained. She takes her responsibilities of running the household and taking care of the family very seriously. The oldest boy, Clarence, just finished high school and is becoming aware of “grown up” things, like long pants and girls as more than friends. The second boy, John, has his father’s ambitious mind and tries anything and everything to try and make himself some money. The next boy, Whitney, is in the middle of going through his Confirmation, an event that has ramifications for the entire family.


Soon they have company – Mrs. Day’s Cousin Cora and a friend, Mary (Elizabeth Taylor). While Mr. Day is beside himself – he hates having houseguests – Clarence, the oldest son, is thrilled. (I mean, Elizabeth Taylor is staying in his house!) They find a common love of music, and a mutual inexperience with the opposite sex that makes Mary guileless and Clarence charmingly self-conscious.


Before long, problems happen. Clarence has trouble romancing a young lady in his father’s old suit. John’s latest money-making schemes nearly brings disaster to the family. And throughout it all, Mr. Day and Mrs. Day are having a religious war – Mrs. Day discovers Mr. Day was never baptized as a child, and is terrified he’ll be the only one of the family not to get into Heaven. Mr. Day objects to being baptized like an infant, and refuses to discuss the subject.

It’s hard to pin down a central plot so much as several subplots that are woven together in hilarious circumstances. William Powell is one of my favorite actors, and seeing him as the stick-in-the-mud penny-pinching patriarch after seeing him for years as boozy detectives or goofy romantic leads is a treat, and his comic genius is as spot-on as ever. Irene Dunne is perfect as Mrs. Day, fooling you (and Mr. Day) into thinking she’s a brainless blonde housewife when she’s really the one pulling the strings. She is also a gifted comedienne and is the perfect partner for William Powell in this movie. One of the best scenes involves a ceramic pug dog that Mrs. Day had bought and Mr. Day hated. In order to kill two birds with one stone, well…..

Another scene not to be missed is when Mr. Day tells his oldest son, Clarence, “about women.” Of course, it doesn’t go at all like Clarence expected it would.

A lot of the friction in the movie does revolve around the different views each of the main characters has on religion, and while none of them are my particular views, they are all presented in a humorous, non-preachy way that everyone can enjoy.

We loved watching this movie growing up, partly because I think most people can find glimpses of their own parents in Mr. and Mrs. Day. I’m sure on more than one occasion I’ve walked in on my dad “lecturing” some elected official who was on the TV, not actually in the room. And when Clarence and Mary are “visiting” in the parlor, Mrs. Day gives them a stern look and says, “Remember, it’s Sunday!” before leaving them alone. I don’t know if my mom ever actually said that, but I can certainly see her doing exactly that. And I’m not going to lie, Mr. and Mrs. Day’s budget discussions do bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the budget discussions in the SoldierMan household.

Of course, as much as Mr. Day pontificates about how much “women need men” and Mrs. Day works her own machinations behind his back, there’s no doubt throughout the movie they are a sweetly devoted couple, suitably matched to raise a family.


“Life With Father” will be on Sunday, June 14, at 3:00 PM CST. Even better, I can tell you with certainty that “Life With Father” is on Netflix streaming, only because I added it to my Instant Queue back in the day. So if your DVR misses it, you can get it on Netflix.

Honorable Mentions:
Four Daughters (1938) – Tuesday, June 12, 12:30 PM CST
Bye Bye, Birdie (1963) – Thursday, June 14, 1:00 AM CST
The Enchanted Cottage (1945) – Thursday, June 14, 12:30 PM CST
Father of the Bride (1950) – Sunday, June 17, 5:15 PM CST
Fort Apache (1948) – Sunday, June 17, 9:30 PM CST

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  1. I have not seen this one yet; but I will be adding it to my Netflix queue!

  2. One of the best movies, ever! My mother and I never miss it whenever it's played on TV.!


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