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Saturday, 6 October 2012

Life With Father (1947) - Star of the month... Elizabeth Taylor

"I won't have my life arranged for me. I bought this house for my own comfort. I will not submit myself to this indignity!" - William Powell (as Clarence Day Sr. in 'Life With Father')

'Life With Father' is a 1947 comedy directed by Michael Curtiz and stars William Powell, Irene Dunne, Elizabeth Taylor, Edmund Gwenn, ZaSu Pitts, Jimmy Lydon, Martin Milner and Clara Blandick. The film's screenplay was written by Donald Ogden Stewart, who adapted the play by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, who based the play on the autobiography of Clarence Day Jr.

Clarence Day Sr. (played by Powell) lives with his wife Vinnie (played by Dunne) and his five children. Clarence Sr. wants to be the man of the house, however finds he has little control with his wife making many of the decisions. Once it is discovered Clarence Sr. was never baptised as a child, Vinnie is devastated and has concerns she and Clarence may not be legally married, and she will forced to spend an eternity in heaven without him. After Vinnie tries forcing Clarence to be baptised, things get a little too much and Clarence is forced to put his foot down.

Public domain film

'Life with Father' is considered to be in the public domain. This means the either film's copyright was not renewed and expired, or the film was never copyrighted (as it's not listed in the Catalog of Copyright Entires). As a result, the film has been released by many different budget VHS/DVD distributors, who often use inferior quality copies. Sadly MGM is yet to release a high quality DVD print of this film.

Did you know...

  • Mary Pickford was originally meant to make her big screen comeback as Vinnie Day in this film - MGM was concerned about her box office popularity after a 13 year screen absence, so director Michael Curtiz decided to use Irene Dunne
  • William Powell & Irene Dunne had first wanted top-billing in this film and as a compromise half of the prints listed Irene Dunne, and the other half listed William Powell first - Either version alternated each day in cinemas, as did newspaper advertisements
  • The original play ran from 1939 to 1947, and with 3224 performances it is still the longest-running non-musical play on Broadway, and the fifteenth longest-running play ever (as of October 2012)
  • Due to the Hays Production Code, the last line from the play "I'm going to be baptized, dammit!" was unable to used in the film, leading to the line being rewritten as simply "I'm going to be baptized!"
  • Aside from the color scenes in 'Leathernecking' (1930), this was Irene Dunne's only colour film

Awards & nominations

  • Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a leading role (William Powell)
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Art Direction-Set Direction, color (Robert M. Haas & George James Hopkins)
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography, color (J. Peverell Marley & William V. Skall)
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Music, scoring of a dramatic or comedy picture (Max Steiner)
  • Globe Globe Award winner for Best Score, Motion Picture
  • New York Film Critics Circle Award winner for Best Actor (William Powell)

Closing remarks

I remember first watching this film when I was 14 years old, and remember enjoying it a lot, but I couldn't quite remember why. I watched the film again the other day and enjoyed it just as much as I did first time, and I realised why I couldn't remember. There is no particular reason why I enjoyed watching this film - almost everything about the entire film is enjoyable.

William Powell delivers an exceptional performance, and in my opinion one of his best.  Elizabeth Taylor is amusing supporting role as Mary, a girl whom Clarence Jr. becomes infatuated with.

If you have two hours to spare, I strongly recommend watching this film. Other than the poor quality of the print, I guarantee you will laugh yourself silly and won't be disappointed.

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