Cast & Crew
Middle class family man Stanley Banks reminisces on events of the past year: One afternoon, returning from the office feeling happy and energetic, Stanley's routine is interrupted when his wife Ellie tells him that they are having dinner with their daughter Kay and her husband, Buckley Dunstan, to hear some important news. Although Stanley is certain that it concerns Buckley's business, the newlyweds reveal that Kay is expecting a baby. Buckley's parents, Doris and Herbert, are delighted, as is Ellie, but Stanley broods that he is too young and vibrant to be a grandfather. Soon Ellie, flush with excitement, throws Kay a baby shower, something Stanley thinks is highway robbery not punishable by law. Later, Ellie suggests that they remodel their house to enable Kay, Buckley and the baby to move in with them, but Stanley puts his foot down. Ellie is near tears when the wealthy Dunstons announce that they are building a new home for the couple, but is overjoyed when Kay and Buckley reveal that they have just bought their own little house, enabling Ellie to have free reign helping Kay decorate. After settling into their new home, Kay, who is very close to her father, expresses her concern that the baby will make a difference in her relationship with Buckley. Stanley comforts her by telling her how much he loved her as a baby. Soon the Banks and the Dunstans are trying to outdo one another buying gifts and making plans for the baby, up to his enrollment in college. One night, while listening to Ellie, Doris and Herbert bicker over what the baby should be named, Kay breaks down and runs to her room. Only Stanley, whom Kay feels is the sole parent who understands her and Buckley, is able to comfort her. The day after pledging to Kay that he will make certain that none of the in-laws will interfere again, Stanley drags Ellie to Kay's physician, Dr. Andrew Nordell, anxious over the "modern" ideas Nordell has about a more natural method of childbirth and infant care. For the next month or so, things remain calm, until Stanley is awakened by a late night call from Buckley, who says that Kay has left him "for good." After sneaking over to Buckley and Kay's place, Stanley learns from a cab driver that Kay took a taxi to the Banks's. The two men then return to the Banks house, where the couple make up after Kay's jealousy is revealed to be a misunderstanding stemming from Buckley's late nights working at the office. Kay, as well as Stanley, realize how very devoted Buckley is. As the baby's birth approaches, nerves among the parents and grandparents become frayed. The eventual birth of a baby boy delights everyone, except Stanley, a distant and wary observer of the as-yet-unnamed baby, who starts to cry whenever Stanley comes near him. When the baby is six months old, Kay joins Buckley on a brief business trip and leaves the baby with her parents, hoping to give Stanley time to grow closer to his grandson. One afternoon, while Kay is still away, Stanley takes the baby for a walk in the park. When the baby finally falls asleep in his carriage, Stanley joins some friendly neighborhood boys in a game of football and loses track of time. After the game, when Stanley cannot find the carriage, he frantically retraces his steps back to the house. Seeing through the window that Kay has returned early, he panics and takes a taxi to the local police station. There a befuddled Stanley confesses to the grim-faced police sergeant that he has lost the baby. Fearing the wrath of the police squad, who found the sweet-natured baby and have fallen in love with him, Stanley secretly prays that his grandson will not start to scream when he picks him up. To Stanley's relief, the baby is delighted to see him, and from that moment on, the two are devoted to each other. Some time later, at the baby's christening, Stanley beams with pride as his grandson is finally named "Stanley Banks Dunstan."
Robert B. Williams
George "pinky" Wood
Nicky Johnson Robertson
Pandro S. Berman
Edwin B. Willis
Father's Little Dividend
MGM had registered the tentative title of Now I'm a Grandfather for the sequel while Father of the Bride was still in production, and since most of the cast and crew were under contract to MGM at the time, producer Pandro Berman was easily able to reassemble them for the speedy 23-day shoot. Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich teamed up again on the screenplay, which eventually was titled Father's Little Dividend. Although director Vincente Minnelli was in the midst of shooting his next film, An American in Paris (1951), Berman was adamant about having the same director helm the second film. So, Minnelli arranged to do Father's Little Dividend during a break during An American in Paris while he waited on sets to be completed for its famous ballet sequence.
Despite the success of Father of the Bride, Spencer Tracy wasn't keen on doing a sequel since he believed that they rarely lived up to the originals, and he wanted a bigger challenge than playing a role he had already done before. Tracy's paramour Katharine Hepburn, however, convinced him to change his mind with the argument that he owed it to the studio and that it made good business sense to do it.
Like the first shoot on Father of the Bride, Father's Little Dividend proved to be a pleasure for everyone involved. However, the offscreen lives of the key actors involved didn't always live up to the picture perfect world of the Banks and Dunstan families in the films. During the buzz surrounding Father of the Bride, all eyes had been on gorgeous ingenue Elizabeth Taylor as life imitated art and she became a real-life bride for the first time with a much publicized wedding to hotel heir Nicky Hilton. During the filming of Father's Little Dividend, however, Taylor's marriage was unraveling, and by the time the sequel was released, she had already filed for divorce.
When Father's Little Dividend became another big hit for the studio, there was talk of making a third installment, with hopes that the Banks family might become another cash cow for the studio in the same vein as the Andy Hardy family series. However, that never came to pass after actress Joan Bennett, who played Mrs. Banks, became embroiled in a scandal that had an adverse effect on her film career. Bennett's husband at the time, Walter Wanger, believed her to be having an affair with her long-time agent Jennings Lang. One night not long after Father's Little Dividend was released, Wanger confronted Bennett and Lang in a restaurant parking lot and shot Lang in the groin. Bennett's career never fully recovered after that, and as a result there were no more Father of the Bride movies.
Father of the Bride and Father's Little Dividend were both successfully re-made with comedian Steve Martin in the Spencer Tracy role and Diane Keaton as his ever-patient wife. The first one, bearing the same title, was released in 1991 and the sequel, Father of the Bride II, hit theaters in 1995.
Producer: Pandro S. Berman
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Screenplay: Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich
Art Direction: Leonid Vasian, Cedric Gibbons
Cinematography: John Alton
Editing: Ferris Webster
Music: Albert Sendrey
Principal Cast: Spencer Tracy (Stanley T. Banks), Joan Bennett (Ellie Banks), Elizabeth Taylor (Kay Dunstan), Don Taylor (Buckley Dunstan), Billie Burke (Mrs. Doris Dunstan), Russ Tamblyn (Tommy Banks), Moroni Olsen (Herbert Dunstan).
BW-82m. Closed captioning.
by Andrea Passafiume
Father's Little Dividend
The film opens with Spencer Tracy, as "Stanley Banks" addressing the audience, then relating events of the previous year. Tracy's voice is heard frequently throughout the film, offering a running commentary. A CBCS list includes Frank Faylen in the cast as a policeman, but he was not in the released film. Vincent Minnelli directed the film while on a break from his work on An American in Paris while preparations were under way for the extensive "American in Paris Ballet" sequence of that film. Following completion of Father's Little Dividend, Minnelli returned to complete An American in Paris.
Father's Little Dividend was a sequel to the popular 1950 M-G-M release, Father of the Bride (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). Cast members portraying the Banks and the Dunstan familes were the same in both films. Marietta Canty, who portrayed the Banks family maid "Delilah," and Paul Harvey as "Reverend Galsworthy" reprised their roles in the sequel, as did Janet Fay, Wendy Waldron and Erin Selwyn, who appeared as "bridesmaids" in the first film and were seen as baby shower guests in the sequel. Reviews highly praised the film as a worthy successor to the original. For information on other films and television programs featuring the characters created by Edward Streeter, see entry for Father of the Bride.