Jack and Father of the Bride

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Jack and Father of the Bride

Postby speedy » Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:49 pm

I am reading James Curtis’ wonderful and massive biography of Spencer Tracy, and came upon a great anecdote about Jack and the movie Father of the Bride, which of course featured Tracy in the leading role of Stanley T. Banks, the father of the bride. By way of background, I will identify the persons mentioned in the anecdote:

Dore Schary: Head of MGM, the studio producing FOTB
Pan Berman: Producer
Vincente Minnelli: Director

Here’s the story:

“When Father made the rounds in manuscript form, it was snapped up by the Book of the Month Club, then by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which paid $100,000 for the film rights. As soon as word of the purchase got out, comedian Jack Benny cornered Dore Schary at a party and said that he wanted to play Banks. According to Pan Berman, who had responsibility for the project, Schary said, “Great, marvelous, we’d love to have you, you’ve got it.” And then he dropped his fait accompli in Berman’s lap.
“’Dore,’ I said, Jack Benny is a wonderful personality, but he simply won’t do. I know we don’t even have to ask [Vincente} Minnelli, but if you want to...’” Minnelli had directed Madame Bovary under Berman’s supervision and liked the idea of following it with a comedy.

We did test Jack Benny and he made a valiant effort, but it was terrible because it wasn’t for him. I went in and told Dore, “It’s hopeless.” Dore said, “I don’t agree with you. I think it’s great.” I remained steadfast. “Well, who are you going to get?” he asked. I said Spencer. “You’ll never get Spencer to do it. “I’ll get him.” “Well then, you’ll have to call Jack and tell him we’re not going to use him.” “I’ve got to call Jack? He’s been a dear friend for years. We dine in each other’s homes once a month. We’re all part of a gang together. Why should I have to call? If I had talked to him to begin with, I would have told him no in the first place.” So I did. Jack didn’t talk to me for ten years after that.

I had never heard this one before, so I thought I would share it. A humorous tale of Hollywood.
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