Friday, May 17, 2013
'The Courtship of Eddie's Father:' 1963 Version of 'The Bachelor (Father)' Dynamite Dad's Day Donation DVD
Staying up past my bedtime to watch the DVD of 1963 Vincent Minnelli, Liza "The Other Lucille" Minnelli's father, film "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" was consistent with this genuinely delightful film centered around eight-year old Ron "Opie" Howard.
With all due sympathy to his fans and family, giggling this morning on learning that there was a race car driver named Dick Trickle was also in the spirit of the wonderful humor in "Father."
The simple plot of "Father" was that Howard's titular character Eddie wanted his very recently widowed pop Tom Corbett, played by Glenn Ford, to remarry so that Tom would be happy. The Bobby Bradyesque problem was that Eddie did not want a step-mother.
Watching the interaction between Ford and Howard evoked thoughts of Howard's incredible talent for interacting with his screen sires. The relationship between Tom and Eddie was very similar to that of Opie and his widowed dad Andy Taylor on "The Andy Griffith Show." The "Father" relationship also had shades of the chats between Howard as Richie Cunningham and his father Howard on the early seasons of the '50s-based '70s sitcom "Happy Days."
This terrific element of Howard's character stole the show. I laughed out loud when he tentatively told his father his theory that a woman's bust size determined her character. Howard pointed out that the evil women in comic books always had large busts and slanty eyes. This became a hilarious recurring theme.
A similar conversation later in the film revolved around Howard wanting to use a tape measure to determine the dimensions of one of the bachelorettes.
This aspect of "Father" and the film's overall awesomeness prompted a rare direct endorsement of buying this film as a Father's Day gift for the special male parental figure in your life. The WBShop's current graduated (no pun intended) sale and the delay associated with this film being a Made on Demand title are good reasons to order the film sooner rather than later. (My cats are not taking the hint.)
"Father" is noteworthy as well for being an early example of a critically and commercially successful film that spawned a successful sitcom of the same name. Other examples include "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" and "M*A*S*H."
Complete candor requires confessing limited knowledge of the "Father" sitcom. The only reason for this was that WLVI Channel 56 in Boston ran it against all-time favorites on WSBK Channel 38 in the dark ages before even VCRs. I loved the episodes that I watched and looked forward to the epilog "man-to-man" walk on the beach scenes between the beyond awesome Bill Bixby and his TV son Brandon Cruz when I flipped to Channel 56 to watch "Father" film co-star Shirley Jones in "The Partridge Family."
The large difference between the "sleep out" housekeeper character Mrs. Livingston in the film and the series was one distinction. Additionally, Tom went from being a program manager at a radio station to being a magazine executive. Seeing the genuinely good guy cub reporter Tim O'Hara from "My Favorite Martian" stay in journalism was nice.
The "Father" film inspired adding the two released seasons of the three season show to my collection. Keep a look out for reviews of those episodes.
Jones played the first bachelorette in the "bachelor" competition in "Father." She was a blonde grass widow (Google it millenials) who lived across the hall from fils' et pere's envy-worthy Manhattan apartment. Jones' character Elizabeth was a good friend of the deceased Mrs. Corbett and a second mother to Eddie. Seeing Shirley Partridge nurse and counsel Opie Taylor was a real treat.
The wonderfully funny Stella Stevens played the sweet but dim redhead beauty contest loser Dollye Daly who Howard maced on at an arcade. This country girl new to the big city was a genuine hoot.
Bachelorette number three was the frontrunner. Brunette sophsticate Dina Merrill played the Holly Golightly type character Rita Behrens. Behrens was a "chic designer" who enjoyed the glamor of New York nightlife with the elder Corbett and had a yappy poodle rather than a wonderfully wild orange tabby cat.
The feel of "Breakfast at Tiffanys," which was released two years before "Father," extended beyond the Golightly like character. Both films had the wonderful feel of live theater, revolved around the relatively glamorous life of New York City's upper-middle class in the early '60s, and had perfectly executed very revealing dramatic scenes at the end. (I still do not know if George Peppard or the cat prompted Golightly's transformation at the end of "Tiffanys.")
The cautionary note regarding "Tiffanys" is that, pop songs aside, recalling that you "kinda" liked any film does not provide a solid basis for a lasting relationship any more than a common fondness for pina coladas and getting caught in the rain but not being into yoga. (Google it millenials).
Please feel free to email any thoughts or questions regarding the "Father" film or series.