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Thursday, April 02, 2020

Toward Finish of Films As a Family Habit


Weekend With Father (1951) Is Universal/Sirk On Holiday

Directed by Douglas Sirk, so why isn't it included in revivals for him? Guess Weekend With Father doesn't "speak" for the auteur, but what if it actually does, and more so than melodramas for which he's been celebrated? For all we know, Sirk had every bit the nutty family life as depicted here, Universal-International's comedy in fact autobiographical. He’s more than competent wrangling kid players and slapstick they instigate at pleasing location where much of Weekend With Father takes place. Variation on the story had been done, in fact at Universal, with Family Honeymoon and others of like ilk. U-I's was a "family" audience, as in waning days of mom-dad-kids going together to movies. That would disappear as patronage Balkanized and parents clung to TV's while youth saw increasingly junky films aimed toward them. What we've here is Patricia Neal with two boys, Van Heflin the same in girls, and how they almost miss a coupling thanks to offspring intransigence. What clicked for me was tight-wound Van Heflin tilting at fall-down comedy, way off-casting you'd not expect from a habitual drama man. Neal was much a same. Neither had notable aptitude to raise laughs, and there's where Weekend With Father happily serves the unexpected. Richard Denning is broad to bursting as gung-ho camp counselor, him singled out as odd for a love of health food. There's one segment, worth seeing the pic in itself, that shows how attitudes have changed. Seems Denning's a freak for wanting yogurt as his desert, our sympathy directed to table mates' preference for hot dogs and ice cream. The 50's were a long way back of better eating habits. Weekend With Father has turned up on TCM, merits a watch.

1 Comments:

Blogger Dave K said...

Ha, ha! I loved this one as a kid... it played local TV with the regularity of a Honeymooners rerun. And, yes, I can remember my family gathered by the tube howling at the 'wackiness' of health nut Denning.

2:20 PM  

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