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B. F.'s Daughter

B. F.'s Daughter(1948)

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teaser B. F.'s Daughter (1948)

MGM's B.F.'s Daughter (1948) introduced Barbara Stanwyck in the "New Look" that swept the fashion world in the late 1940s. Gone were Stanwyck's shoulder-length tresses, shoulder pads and boxy suits that had been her signature in the early part of the decade. For the first time onscreen, her hair was bobbed short, her waist cinched and her skirts flared with the abundance of material that prevailed once wartime restrictions were a thing of the past. Stanwyck's "look" created a minor sensation, and costume designer Irene was nominated for an Oscar ®for her up-to-date fashions.

B.F.'s Daughter, based on the novel by John P. Marquand, casts Stanwyck as Polly Fulton, the rebellious daughter of a rich industrialist (Charles Coburn). B.F., happy with his daughter's engagement to a smooth, conservative lawyer (Richard Hart), is stunned when she instead marries a rumpled, liberal college professor (Van Heflin).

Much of the political satire of Marquand's novel is missing from the film, which becomes instead a straightforward romantic drama as Polly clashes with both her irate father and resentful husband. Given the restrictions of the period, Polly the character is never allowed to be quite as independent as Stanwyck the actress probably would have liked to make her. But the production values have that MGM gloss, and Stanwyck's straight-ahead star performance is nicely supported by some compatible pros who had worked with her previously (and, in Heflin's case, would again).

Coburn also played Stanwyck's father in the screwball romp The Lady Eve, and Spring Byington repeats her role as Stanwyck's mother here after having enjoyed the same relationship in the Frank Capra drama Meet John Doe (1941). Heflin and Stanwyck first shared their potent chemistry in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers and would revive it in East Side, West Side (1949). Stanwyck considered Heflin a pal who was a worthy target for practical jokes; before filming a scene from B.F.'s Daughter in which he was to carry her across a threshhold, she hid weights in her mink coat, causing the poor guy to strain and stagger after sweeping her into his arms.

In the United Kingdom the film's title was changed to Polly Fulton, since "B.F." is a euphemism in England for "bloody fool."

Producer: Edwin H. Knopf
Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Screenplay: Luther Davis, from John P. Marquand novel
Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg
Art Direction: Daniel B. Cathcart, Cedric Gibbons
Original Music: Bronislau Kaper, Clifford Vaughan (uncredited)
Editing: George White
Costume Design: Irene
Hair Styles: Sydney Guilaroff
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Pauline "Polly" Fulton), Van Heflin (Thomas W. "Tom" Brett), Charles Coburn (Burton F. "B.F." Fulton), Richard Hart (Robert S. "Bob" Tasmin III), Keenan Wynn (Martin Delwyn "Marty" Ainsley), Margaret Lindsay ("Apples" Sandler) Spring Byington (Gladys Fulton).

by Roger Fristoe

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