Following the wedding of his daughter Kay (Elizabeth Taylor), Stanley T. Banks (Spencer Tracy), a suburban lawyer, recalls the day, three months earlier, when he first learned of Kay's engagement to Buckley Dunstan (Don Taylor). At the family dinner table, Kay's casual announcement that she is in love with Buckley and has accepted his proposal makes Stanley feel uneasy, but he soon comes to realize that his daughter has grown up and the wedding is inevitable. While Ellie (Joan Bennett), Kay's mother, immediately begins making preparations for the wedding, Stanley lies awake at night, fearing the worst for his daughter.
Stanley's misgivings about the marriage eventually make Ellie anxious, and she insists that Kay introduce them to Buckley's parents. Kay calls the tradition "old-fashioned rigamarole," but arranges the meeting nevertheless. Before the introduction, Stanley has a private conversation with Buckley, and is pleased to learn that the young man is the head of a small company and that he is capable of providing a comfortable life for Kay. The Bankses' first meeting with Doris and Herbert, Buckley's parents, gets off to an awkward start, and goes from bad to worse when Stanley drinks too much and falls asleep in the wealthy Dunstans' living room.
Following Kay and Buckley's engagement party, Stanley, who misses the entire party because he is in the kitchen mixing drinks, realizes that his plans for a small wedding have been swept aside and he will be expected to pay for an extravagant wedding "with all the trimmings." As costs for the June event spiral out of control, Stanley calculates that he can afford to accommodate no more than one hundred and fifty guests. The task of paring down the guest list proves too difficult, however, and Stanley reluctantly consents to a 250-person reception. To save costs, Stanley suggests to Kay that she and Buckley elope. Kay is at first shocked by the suggestion, then reconsiders, supports the idea, and conveys that to her mother. Ellie strongly disapproves of eloping which causes Stanley to express his disapproval too, making it appear the idea was originally Kay's.
The plans for a lavish wedding continue until the day that Buckley tells Kay that he wants to take her on a fishing trip in Nova Scotia for their honeymoon. Kay reacts to the announcement with shock and calls off the wedding, but she and Buckley soon reconcile, and the two families begin their wedding rehearsals. On the day of the wedding, chaos reigns at the Banks home as final preparations are made for the reception. The wedding ceremony brings both joy and sorrow to Stanley, as he realizes that his daughter is now a woman and no longer his child. During the reception, Stanley tries to find Kay so he can kiss the bride but only manages to see her leaving for her honeymoon. Ellie and Stanley survey the mess in their home and concur that the entire affair was a great success. Kay calls and tells her father she loves him and thanks her parents for everything.Spencer Tracy as Stanley T. Banks
Joan Bennett as Ellie Banks
Elizabeth Taylor as Kay Dunstan
Don Taylor as Buckley Dunstan
Billie Burke as Doris Dunstan
Moroni Olsen as Herbert Dunstan
Marietta Canty as Delilah
Russ Tamblyn as Tommy Banks
Tom Irish as Ben Banks
Paul Harvey as Reverend Galsworthy
Leo G. Carroll as Mr. Massoula
Cast notesSpencer Tracy wanted Katharine Hepburn for his screen wife, but it was felt that they were too romantic a team to play a happily domesticated couple with children, so Joan Bennett got the part.
The premiere of Father of the Bride took place two days after Elizabeth Taylor's real-life marriage – her first – to Nicky Hilton, an event that M-G-M exploited in its publicity campaign for the picture. Helen Rose, who designed Taylor's gown for the film, also designed the gown for her wedding to Nicky Hilton. Taylor went on to marry seven more times.
The film was very popular earning $4,036,000 in the US and Canada and $2,048,000 overseas, making MGM a profit of $2,936,000.
Father of the Bride had a sequel the following year, called Father's Little Dividend, in which Taylor's character has a baby. It was also made into a television series which aired on CBS during the 1961-62 season. The cast included Leon Ames (Stan), Ruth Warrick (Ellie), and Myrna Fahey (Kay).
A remake of the same name, starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton and Kimberly Williams as the bride, was released in 1991. It had a numeraled sequel, Father of the Bride Part II, in 1995, with the same cast. As in the original's sequel, the bride gives birth to her first child, also a son. The film was also remade in Tamil as Abhiyum Naanum.
The film was featured in Peter Bogdanovich's 1971 picture The Last Picture Show; it is being viewed in the cinema in the film.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:2000: AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs – #83