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The Catered Affair

The Catered Affair(1956)

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As New Yorker Tom Hurley completes his shift, his friend, Sam Leiter, tells him the cab they have been wanting to purchase is available at an affordable price. Thrilled that his dream of owning his own cab is about to come true, Tom returns to his cramped Bronx apartment to find his wife, grown children and brother-in-law just beginning their day. Daughter Jane remarks that as her fiancé, Ralph Halloran, has been asked to drive a car to California on the following Tuesday, she and Ralph have decided to get married beforehand and honeymoon on the way. Jane's mother Aggie wants to give her daughter a big wedding, but Jane insists that there be "no wedding reception, no nothin'," just a simple ceremony with immediate family. When Aggie breaks the news to her Irish-born brother Jack, who has lived in the Hurley apartment for the past twelve years, he is thoroughly delighted. Upon learning that he is not invited to the wedding, however, Uncle Jack indignantly exits the apartment. News of the impending marriage travels quickly, and at the fish market, Aggie is besieged with questions from curious friends and neighbors. Why the rush, they ask, is Jane in trouble? Ralph's parents, who live in a nicer part of town, also want a big wedding, and while having dinner at the Hurley apartment that evening, they reminisce about the grand affairs they staged for Ralph's sisters. Just then, Uncle Jack stumbles in and drunkenly announces that because the couple does not consider him part of the immediate family, he will be moving out in the morning. Embarrassed by Jack's behavior and ashamed of her family's sorry financial situation, Aggie insists that Jane have a large wedding, even though, as Tom reminds her, the expense will deplete their savings. Aggie's regrets about her own unceremonious wedding following her brother's offering money to Tom to marry her, and the disappointing years of marriage that followed it, trouble her so deeply that Jane finally consents to having a catered affair. Jane's best friend Alice, who is to be the matron of honor, meets mother and daughter at a bridal salon, but later, she shamefully confesses that her husband has lost his job and that she has no money for a dress. That afternoon, while interviewing the caterer at the Hotel Concourse Plaza, Tom repeatedly expresses horror at the cost of the food, flowers and limousines, and that night, Jane learns that Ralph's mother has invited twice as many guests as she had originally listed. On Sunday, Sam arrives to discuss the cab partnership, and as Jane listens, her father explains that he will be unable to participate. Uncle Jack announces that he has given a wedding invitation to his good friend, Mrs. Rafferty, and when Tom forbids this, Jack again threatens to move out. Aggie argues with Tom, and as the shouting reaches its peak, Jane exclaims that she is calling off the wedding. Later, Ralph and Jane meet Alice and her husband Bill, who have borrowed money in order to participate in the wedding. Touched, Jane explains that the wedding will be small, as originally planned. Meanwhile, Jack and Mrs. Rafferty decide that as he is moving out of the Hurley house anyway, they should marry and share an apartment. Realizing that when her son leaves for Fort Dix in the fall, she will be alone with her husband for the first time since they were married, Aggie bursts into tears. Tom protests that Aggie should have offered him sympathy rather than criticism for being unable to provide a better life for his children, and when she refuses to listen, he gets drunk and falls asleep. On the morning of the wedding, Aggie gazes at her sleeping husband, and when he finally awakens, she admits that she was wrong. The important thing, she declares, is that together, they witness their daughter's marriage. Aggie then telephones Sam, who drives the now happy couple to church in the new cab.