Father of the Bride (1950) Blu-ray Review: RSVP to the WAC BD ASAP

The original classic receives a makeover to die for thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
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Let's take a brief gander at marriage, folks. While many of us are keen to issue a timeless, fool proof slice of advice when it comes to matrimony ‒ that of "Don't do it, it's not worth it" ‒ the fact is those darn kids never listen to us. Just ask Spencer Tracy's Stanley T. Banks in the three-time Oscar-nominated, AFI-approved 1950 classic, Father of the Bride. Though the trendsetting favorite is one of the few instances where a Steve Martin remake garnered critical praise (yes, we're still upset over that Pink Panther reboot), the original film possesses its own charm and sincerity, thanks largely in part to its distinguished leads: the aforementioned Mr. Tracy, the refined panache of Joan Bennett, and a maturing Elizabeth Taylor.

Told in flashback, Spencer's Stanley relates to us, the viewer, how everything that could have possibly gone wrong did once his headstrong teen-aged daughter Kay (played by a wonderful teen-aged Elizabeth Taylor) announces she intends to marry a young feller named Buckley. Immediately, the red flags are raised as Stanley struggles to even recall if he has ever met the young man in question, as Kay has a tendency to go through boyfriends. But that's just peanuts compared to the way Kay and her devoted mother Ellie (the great Joan Bennett) are going to go through not only Stanley's patience but his pocketbook too as they set the stage for a wedding which will test every last nerve of our beloved Father of the Bride.

Also starring the talents of Don Taylor, Billie Burke, Moroni Olsen, a young Russ Tamblyn, and an already old Leo G. Carroll (in a standout supporting role as the bemused caterer), this achievement from comedy/musical great Vincente Minnelli (An American in Paris, Gigi, The Long, Long Trailer) comes to Blu-ray in an amazing 1080p transfer from the Warner Archive Collection. Newly scanned and restored from a fine-grain master, this WAC presentation is a miracle to behold, as a certain amount of misfortune befell Father's original elements. Even the audio track on this BD has been culled and cleaned-up from a secondary "safety" master ‒ but everything looks and sounds so damn good, you'll never notice the difference. It's that good!

Aurally, this WAC release includes a default English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono offering, as well as Latin, Castilian, French, and Polish (!) soundtracks in Dolby Digital 2.0. Subtitle selections consist of English (SDH), French, Spanish, Polish, and Czech. As far as extras go, this Warner Archive release sports all of the bonus materials found on the 2006 Special Edition DVD, including the original theatrical trailer ‒ which has been given a new HD makeover here. There are also two vintage newsreel excerpts, both of which are presented without sound, as their original audio tracks were lost. That, however, is inconsequential when you look at what a marvelous restoration job the Warner Archive Collection has done for this highly recommended, must-have release.

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