Movies for the Homebound XII: Great Movie Dads

Posted on June 16, 2020 at 8:00 am

In honor of Father’s Day, here are some of my favorite movie dads, many of them based on the real-life fathers of the filmmakers.  Extra love to the two great dads in my life, my father and my husband. Give the dad in your life an extra hug and ask who his favorite movie father is!

Spencer Tracy in the original “Father of the Bride” may be befuddled by the planning for his daughter’s wedding, but when she is distraught because her fiance’s plan to go to Nova Scotia for their honeymoon is making her question her decision to marry him, we see one of the all-time great father moments in movies. Elizabeth Taylor, who played the young bride, always called Tracy “Pops” because of their time together on this film.

Clifton Webb plays real-life efficiency and safety pioneer Frank Gilbreth in “Cheaper by the Dozen,” with Myrna Loy as his partner and wife Lillian, based on the memoir by two of the twelve Gilbreth children (well worth reading).

“The Pursuit of Happyness” stars Will Smith as real-life Christopher Gardner, who went from being homeless to being a successful stockbroker, all the time caring for his son, played here by Smith’s own son Jaden, adding depth and authenticity to this inspiring story.

The classic play “Life With Father,” based on the book by Clarence Day, Jr. about his bombastic but affectionate father is a delightful movie starring William Powell, Irene Dunne, and Elizabeth Taylor.

In “The Lion King,” Mufasa is a wise ruler and a loving and devoted father who knows he must teach his young son that being king is more than just doing whatever you want.

Atticus Finch teaches his daughter Scout to read, and he teaches her that courtesy is the foundation of empathy and recognizing the humanity in others in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” based on Harper Lee’s memories of her own father.

“Parenthood” was inspired by the real-life experiences of its writers and directors and it shows. A wide variety of parental challenges are presented with warmth and understanding and Steve Martin excels as a dad struggling to be what his own father (Jason Robards) was not.

Laurence Fishburne plays Furious Styles in “Boyz N the Hood,” a father determined to teach his son, with his example and with their conversations, what it means to be a man in a world that can lead him into danger.

We don’t see much of Fess Parker in “Old Yeller,” but when he comes home near the end of the film, he is in one of the all-time great father-son scenes, giving his son room to mourn the dog who died but giving him some perspective about how he will not always feel so devastated.

A clownfish father voiced by Albert Brooks spends a whole movie searching for his son in “Finding Nemo,” and he learns some important lessons along the way about how to help his son become more independent.


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