From The Warner Archive: The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, 1963 (dir. Vincente Minnelli)
As many of you know, I really love Glenn Ford. Like, really love. I am so excited about all the Glenn Ford media hitting the home video market in the last few months. Enter The Courtship of Eddie’s Father from the Warner Archive Collection. This was such a great film; I can’t believe I had never seen it before.
I also love Vincente Minnelli (well, except for Gigi, but that’s a whole other story) and his work in the early 60s I particularly love (please, do see Bells Are Ringing). He’s got such an amazingly light touch, allowing the stories and the performances to really shine, though if he weren’t as good as he was, you know they wouldn’t be as good either.
This film is about Tom and Eddie Corbett, a recent widower and his young son, who live in N.Y.C. and are trying to come to terms with their new life. The chemistry between Glenn Ford and Ron Howard (yes, that Ron Howard) is what really makes this film work. They feel like father and son from the first frame to the last.
Howard had already been playing Opie on The Andy Griffith Show for three years by the time he made this film. Here he gets the chance to be as charming as we all remember, but also with some darker scenes, as his character deals with the death of his mother.
One scene in particular will tear your heart right out. Earlier Eddie tells his father that during his first day back at school after his mother’s death, he really wanted to cry, but he didn’t. Tom doesn’t know how to deal with this. A bit later, Tom hears screaming and rushes to his son’s bedroom, only to find Eddie screaming uncontrollably. One of Eddie’s goldfish has died and the shock of that (clearly combined with the grief over his mother) is too much for him to handle. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to film this scene; it feels so real and raw.
Again, it’s the chemistry between Ford and Howard and their growth as a father and son that really makes this movie work. After awhile, Eddie decides his father needs to remarry and attempts to match make.
Right away, Tom hires Mrs. Livingston (Roberta Sherwood), a housekeeper, to cook and clean for them. She’s an interesting character, giving advice that is often wise, occasionally wrong, but always heartfelt.
Shirley Jones plays Tom’s next door neighbor, Elizabeth, who is a volunteer nurse and a recent divorcée. Mrs. Livingston (at first) disapproves of her (divorce is just way too modern for her in 1963!), but Eddie loves her and she’s always there when Tom needs her the most.
The only attempt at matchmaking Eddie ever actually does is with the flighty not-quite Miss Montana, Dollye Daly (Stella Stevens), who has come to N.Y.C. to take a course in poise. She becomes a good friend of both Eddie and Tom, but ultimately finds her soulmate elsewhere.
Of course Tom then meets a career woman, fashion consultant Rita (Dina Merrill), who is everything Tom thinks he needs. If only you could be a working lady *and* like kids!
Jerry Van Dyke plays a womanizing radio D.J. who works for Tom, the perfect opposite to Tom’s shy widow. He and Stella Stevens are the film’s main comic relief and they’re both a hoot to watch, both separate and especially when they’re together.
I just had to throw this shot in here because it made me laugh so hard when I saw it.
Glenn Ford; fashion plate. Really, though, Ford wears the most amazing clothes in this film. 60s slim-cut suits, jackets, sweaters, tuxs. You name it, he’s wearing it. Lots of swooning will ensue.
Aside from being an amazing flick, this manufactured on demand disc is one of the best the Warner Archive Collection has released to date. It comes with a full menu, including special features such as audio commentary with Shirley Jones, Dina Merrill and Stella Stevens. It also comes with subtitles in English, French and Spanish and audio tracks in English and French. Here’s hoping they do that more often!
Disclaimer: This review is based on review disc given to me by the Warner Archive, though the opinions are all my own.
Posted on May 18, 2013, in Classic Film, DVDs and tagged 1963, Dina Merrill, Glenn Ford, Jerry Van Dyke, Roberta Sherwood, Ron Howard, Shirley Jones, Stella Stevens, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Vincente Minnelli. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.