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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What’s your favorite movie about Dad?

As I’ve pointed out on a regular basis, so many movies are about women as mothers, as if raising children is the only thing most women ever do with their lives. But there are far fewer movies that are overtly about men as fathers, in which the plot is driven by a man’s relationship with his child. With Father’s Day coming up on Sunday in both the U.S. and the U.K., let’s talk about them.

What’s your favorite movie about Dad?

Mine might be Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which is not only set in motion by Indy’s investigation of his missing father, Henry Sr., but gives us a delightful father-son relationship between the two men.

Of course, as with almost every movie I can think of that’s about a father, it’s also about that father doing a lot more than just being parental, unlike most of the movies about mothers. But that’s a whole ’nother topic…

(FYI, John Scalzi has a funny rundown of the fathers of science fiction at the AMC blog SciFi Scanner.)

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)

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  • MaSch

    I was *so* sure that you would name Indy III after I saw your question :)

    I can’t think of too many movies about Dad I like; the only movie I can think of at the moment would be “The Godfather”, although to mention this movie in this context is a little weird …

  • CoriAnn

    The Great Outdoors–granted it is more about family in general, but the main character is the dad, and it is something I always watched with my dad, so…

  • Field of Dreams!

    I like that it’s not about his father really at all until the very end, and you realize it’s been about him the whole time. Plus it makes me cry every time when Kevin Costner says

    “Dad…… you wanna… have a catch?”

  • JoshB

    Father of the Bride. Always leaves me with a smile.

  • Frequency.

  • Drew Ryce

    To Kill A Mockingbird

    The Gold Standard for all father films

  • Ken

    Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi

    The former, of course, is the better movie, but the father issues really come into play in the latter

  • Cate

    The movie isn’t about dad, but…Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennett in Pride & Prejudice is very simply one of the most amazing fathers on film. The scene at the end in his office with Elizabeth – makes me cry every time.

  • PaulW

    My dad’s never been the subject of a movie… oh, you mean dads in general, as a theme?

    There’s always A Bronx Tale, about a streetwise kid forced to choose between his stern father and equally paternal local mob boss. Only problem with this being a ‘dad’ movie is that the kid kinda chooses the mob boss, and it’s only fate that send the boy back to his father.

  • Stefanie

    Again, this movie isn’t specifically about the dad, but A Christmas Story comes to mind. Now there’s a dad with a bunch of very human foibles, who commanded a grudging respect, and yet, underneath it all, really loved his kids (and wife) even as he was bewildered by them.

  • PaulW

    Stefanie wins. The Old Man from Christmas Story was the Best Dad Ever.

  • Not a finga!

  • Victor Plenty

    It may be a bit of a stretch, but the life work of the main character, and that work’s key role in the movie’s plot, arose directly from her relationship with her father, so I have to put in a good word for Contact.

  • the rook

    the shining. jack nicholson makes a very realistic father.

  • Mimi

    Mr. Mimi votes for Star Wars. He would vote for Star Wars in just about any “favorite” category, though.

    I just saw “Last Chance Harvey,” and while I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite, it was a good one. Harvey’s wedding toast in particular comes to mind.

  • The Pursuit of Happyness, esp. since Will Smith’s real son played his movie son.

    Now, if you asked about best TV dads, I’d have to say Andy Taylor (in B&W–he lost it when Opie and the town pulled a Pleasantville on him and went to full living color), Rob Petrie, or Dr. Mark Sloan (got a Dick Van Dyke thing going on here obviously. He plays a great dad.)

  • Bill

    I like “Frailty” for the best dad flick. And “Dexter” gets my nod for the dad-tv genre.

  • millie

    I agree with Stephanie.

    I also loved Parenthood–the entire cast was great, but Steve Martin and Jason Robards really stood out.

  • amanohyo

    The Sweet Hereafter and The Professional

  • Henry

    Moonstruck. About the daughter, her dad, her mom, her mom and dad’s relationship, her relationships, and how they’re all connected. Perfect.

  • Agree with To Kill a Mockingbird, even if Atticus was just too perfect, it’s still one of my favorite movies period. And also with the Donald Sutherland interpretation of Mr. Bennett.

    But there are two movies where even though the fathers turn out to be helplessly flawed, what hurt each of them the most was the knowledge that their kids were never going to forgive them:

    John Mahoney in Say Anything

    Viggo Mortensen in History of Violence

  • I’m surprised that no one here has yet to mention The Princess Bride since that film’s Inigo Montoya character would appear to be the ideal example of filial loyalty.

    Or perhaps no one here–including MaryAnn–has heard of it…

  • Bree

    Kramer vs. Kramer

  • Bree

    and Finding Nemo!

  • KLW

    Kramer vs. Kramer always come first to mind but I also thought the relationship between Jodie Foster and David Morse in “Contact” as daughter and father gave it such heart as to make it a favorite movie of mine.

  • Speaking of fathers and daughters…Coal Miner’s Daughter deserves to be in the running somewhere in that category…

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