Father’s Day Special: 10 Movie Dads/Father Figures I LOVE

Confession: I don’t usually celebrate Father’s Day. Y’see, I’ve actually never lived with my dad or any kind of father figure my entire life. My parents split up when I was only three and so I grew up with my mom and my grandma. So I guess my granny is sort of my father figure as she was a successful businesswoman, ahah.

Watching movies with great dads in it is no doubt a bit bittersweet for me, but of course it’s delightful to see great examples of the kind of dad I wish I had. And so this year, I thought why not celebrate them? Now, just like real life, some of us perhaps have adopted dads that we cherish, be that a step dad or someone who ends up being a father figure to you.

So here are ten favorite movie dads/father figures I love:

10. Sam – Sleepless in Seattle

One of my all time favorite Tom Hanks roles, I adore this film largely for the sweet but realistic relationship between widower Sam and his young son Jonah. Y’all surely know the story by now, but the moment the kid phoned a radio station saying that his dad needs a new wife, Sam’s life was never the same again. That scene of them being reunited at the top of the Empire State before Meg Ryan’s Annie shows up is as touching as ever.

9. The Stranger – Dear Frankie

Ok, so Gerry Butler’s character doesn’t even have a name. He’s only known as The Stranger, as he’s just a dad-for-a-day that Frankie’s mom hired in a moment of desperation. But he’s done more in the two days he spent with Frankie than his real dad had done in his entire life. That experience changed Frankie and by the time The Stranger leaves, it has a profound effect on him, too. Beautifully filmed, this is a small Scottish film with a huge heart.

8. Matt – The Descendants

For someone who isn’t a dad himself, Clooney certainly knows how to play one convincingly. Matt King got a wake up call of his life when his wife suddenly falls into a coma, and the revelation his daughter shares with him is like being punched when you’re down. Yet he somehow manage to bring his family back together, even patching his rocky relationship with his teenage daughter that he thought was beyond repair. There’s something so earthy and realistic about his relationship with his daughter that don’t seem put on at all, thanks to a great script and great acting.

7. Joe – The Boys Are Back

When I saw this film, I had only seen Clive Owen in tough-guy roles, those Bondian BMW commercials, Sin City, the awful Shoot ‘Em Up, etc., but I wish he’d do more roles like this one. He shines as a sports reporter who suddenly finds himself having to care for his two young sons following his wife’s death. Like Matt in The Descendants, he also had a rocky relationship with his older son, so the film followed the journey of the three as a family. It’s a touching film based on a true story, definitely recommended for any fan of this fine British actor.

6. Marlin – Finding Nemo

Who doesn’t adore Marlin… voiced by Albert Brooks, he may be so overprotective that he drives Nemo crazy, but he sure loves his son. When Nemo goes missing, the faint-hearted clown fish does whatever it takes to bring him back. He meets a ton of interesting characters in his journey, but never loses his focus, even when dealing with Dory, the blue tang suffering from short-term memory loss. Such a sweet movie, easily my top five Pixar flicks that’s as touching as any movie about human relationship.

5. Odin – Thor

Mr. Odin is the picture of a wise father who understand the wisdom of tough love. When his son Thor disobeys him, with a heavy heart he banishes him to earth to learn his lessons. It may seem drastic but considering the great responsibility that lies before Thor, he knows Asgaard can’t have a ruler who’s a spoiled brat and war-hungry. He also raises his adopted son Loki as his own and loves him with all his heart, which makes the scene of Odin being confronted by him so heartbreaking.

4. Daniel – Mrs. Doubtfire

Ok now I’m not saying I want a dad who’s a cross-dresser or anything like that, ahah. What I adore about Daniel, aka Mrs. Doubtfire, is how much he loves his kids, so much so that he’s willing to go THIS far just to spend time with them. It makes for a bunch of hilarious scenarios of course, but at the core of this film is the love of a father and the importance of family. It’s easily one of my favorite Robin Williams’ roles, crazy for sure but with a huge heart.

3. Paul – Hotel Rwanda

In the midst of a brutal civil war between the the Hutu and Tutsi people of Rwanda, one man ends up saving the lives of over a thousand helpless refugees by offering them shelter in the hotel he manages. But before he becomes an unlikely hero, Paul Rusesabagina initially only cares about saving his own family. But it’s that love that inspires him to offer his help to those around him.  This movie is ultimately a love story between a father, a husband and also his love for humanity. A triumph anchored by Don Cheadle’s powerful performance portraying a real-life character.


2. Alfred – Batman Begins/The Dark Knight

I tell you, there probably wouldn’t be Batman without Alfred. Following his parents death, nobody cares more for Bruce Wayne than his elderly butler. Michael Caine plays the role of the wise, witty and kindhearted Alfred flawlessly, plus he’s got such a wonderful chemistry with Christian Bale. The elder Mr. Wayne was a picture of a wise father as well, so it’s the combination of his legacy and Alfred’s support that I think largely contributes to Bruce’s success in his mission as the dark knight. Him saying ‘Why do we fall… so we can learn to pick ourselves up.’ is words of wisdom we all can live by.

1. Atticus – To Kill A Mockingbird

One can’t possibly have a ‘best movie dad’ list without this man. You don’t even have to be a Gregory Peck fan to realize what a phenomenal father Atticus Finch is. He’s first and foremost a hero to his two kids, Jem and Scout, before he takes on a heroic stance against racial prejudice. His relationship between him and Scout are so indelible, and it’s wonderful to hear Mary Badham reveal in many interviews that Peck was also a real-life father-figure to her as she too lost her own father early in life. Atticus is a picture of the best of fatherhood, whose strong conviction, patience, gentleness and especially humility is what all fathers should strive for. The best part is, he shows those virtues by example, something we can always learn from, no matter what era we live in.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  • Guido – Life is Beautiful
  • Mr. Bennett – Pride & Prejudice
  • Big Daddy – Kick-Ass
  • Professor X – X-Men
  • Henry Jones – Indiana Jones

This post is also dedicated to my fellow bloggers who are dads, so Happy Father’s Day to you all!


So that’s my list. Who’s YOUR favorite movie dad(s)?

Beauty is Forever: Happy Birthday, Mr. Gregory Peck!

The Hollywood icon would’ve turned 96 years old today. Though he has passed away for almost a decade, I do think his legacy lives on. I feel like I’ve been preparing to pay tribute to Mr. Peck for over a month now, but suddenly when the time comes, I find it ever so daunting a task as I feel like there’s so much to say I don’t know where to start!

Most of you who’ve read my Spellbound post knew I fell head over heels for him in that Hitchcock film. It really was like ‘lightning striking‘ when I first beheld the 6’3″ lanky then-29-year-old man with magnificent cheekbones, melancholy eyes, and THAT deep, rich voice that can be as commanding as it is soothing. Anna @ Defiant Success said in her email to me that the “Gregory Peck bug” didn’t bite you. It pretty much ate you alive. Ahahaha, well I can’t refute that. I mean how else would you explain the plethora of Gregory DVDs all over my basement, ordering multiple sheets of Atticus’ Forever Stamps, AND devote a Tumblr all to just to this one man? 😀

But really, can you blame me?

Peck in a promo pic from one of his early theater productions

Few actors possess the kind of charisma, looks and talent that Gregory had. But what makes me respect him more is that he never capitalized on his looks, far from it. After reading his biography by Gary Fishgall, which is such a fascinating read that I kept going back to it repeatedly, I’m struck by such a humble beginning he had, especially his years as a struggling theater actor trying to make it on Broadway. Theater work was really his first love, so much so that when Hollywood beckoned, he wasn’t easily swayed. He even made MGM’s famed producer Louis B. Mayer cry when Peck refused to sign his offer of seven-year contract  — promising the then unknown to be the next Clark Gable — as he wanted to fit in more theater work in between films. He was the first actor of that era who refused to be ‘bought’ by the studio. Clearly he didn’t need such a contract to succeed!

I have even more respect for his intelligence and exemplary work ethic. His preparation for every role was a labor of love, beginning with committing every line to memory, he then ‘assembled the character to the best of [his] ability.’ That dedication shows in every single film he did, and he continually challenged himself with every role in various genres, from drama, thriller to westerns. After reading every available articles on Peck known to man, as well as that biography, it’s clear that he’s a hero on and off screen. All the honors (both acting and humanitarian) and legacy he’s achieved, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon Johnson. Truly, a beautiful man inside and out.

Just yesterday I read that President Obama will introduce a screening of To Kill a Mockingbird, both at the White House Family Theater and also on the USA network airing on April 7 as part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of that iconic film (per THR). I do think that Atticus Finch — voted by AFI as the greatest hero in American film — is a rare occasion where the actor and the role meets. Just as effortlessly he had fought against anti-semitism in Gentleman’s Agreement, Peck championed for racial equality with such integrity and grace.

“…[Peck] embodied the best in all of us… He gave idealism a good name, made it seem possible in the flawed state of this human condition,” stated this msnbc article titled Gregory Peck, the last noble breed. On the year he died, TIME magazine ran this article citing “…Peck was the sonorous pitchman for movie humanism. He showed how a strong man could also be a gentle man.”

No doubt he earned the respect of not just critics, moviegoers, but also his peers. Liza Minnelli called him “the ultimate movie star.” His co-star in Designing Woman, Lauren Bacall, said it best I think:

“His values and his standards are very high, which is why Bogie respected him so much. You don’t meet many people, much less actors, who have that kind of character.”  (per Films42 tribute post)

His Forever Stamp inauguration was attended by the likes of Sidney Poitier, James Darrin, Morgan Freeman, and hosted by Sharon Stone. It’s Freeman’s story of meeting Peck that made me grin ear to ear, “… he told of sitting in the very same Academy theater, seeing Peck walk up the aisle and jumping from his seat to stop him dead in his tracks as Freeman dropped to knees in front of him and mumbled something about the honor of being in presence of Captain Ahab.” Oh my, would I love to be a fly on the wall at that moment!

What few people know though, that this regal and elegant man has a dry wit and great sense of humor. “He can be funny,” said Peck’s Paradine Case costar Louis Jourdan, “which is fortunate. Otherwise, such perfection would be unbearable.” (per Peck’s Kennedy-Center bio) If you’ve seen Designing Woman, you too would wish he had done more comedic roles. The scene where his ex-girlfriend dumped a plate of ravioli on his lap, his deadpan expression made the scene even more hilarious, especially as he calmly asked the waiter for a pair of pants! “George Burns used to call it the funniest take he ever saw on the screen,” Peck told the msnbc writer.

Need proof? Check out this clip of Peck appearing on the Jack Benny show with the host himself and George Burns!


For his birthday festivities, I invited a few of my friends to participate by sharing their posts on Mr. Peck, be it a tribute or reviews of his films. As you can see below, this ever so versatile acting legend covered pretty much any genre and he’s always convincing in every one of them. That’s why I picked him as one of the Then Best Actor of All Time in this relay race blog-a-thon.

So to those of you who have NOT seen any Gregory Peck movies, you no longer have any excuses not to watch at least one or two. We’ve got all kinds of suggestions out the wazoo here! 😀

To Kill a Mockingbird

Front Room Cinema (includes interview with Mary Badham)

Inspired Ground
….
The Guns of Navarone

Paula’s Cinema Club

Duel in the Sun

Cinema Romantico

Musings on Duel in the Sun*..

On The Beach

Defiant Success


On The Beach Mini Review*
Birthday Tributes

It Rains… You Get Wet     |  The Focused Filmographer

I Think Therefore I Review    |   Via Margutta 51

A retrospective on Peck & Hitchcock 

I Luv Cinema


Top Five Favorite Scores from Gregory Peck Films

Peck and Hitchcock on the set of The Paradine Case
Beloved Infidel

Via Margutta 51

………………………
The Boys From Brazil


My Film Views

Roman Holiday

Inspired Ground

///
Defiant Success

59 Reasons I Love Roman Holiday*
,,,
Spellbound
../
The Case of Being Spellbound*

Defiant Success



…..
Yellow Sky

I Think Therefore I Review

The Omen

Top 10 Films
Cape Fear
../
Jack Deth’s Guest review
*

Defiant Success

…..
Mirage

Ruth’s guest review @ The Focused Filmographer

Note: The one with the * (asterisk) is a FlixChatter post


I think I will forever be a Gregory Peck fan. You know that old saying ‘they don’t make ’em like him anymore‘? Well in the case of this one Hollywood icon, it’s not a cliché at all.


Please join me in celebrating this wonderful man by reading one of the posts listed above. What are your thoughts of Mr. Peck and his work? I’d love to hear ’em in the comments!

Weekend Viewing Roundup: Bourne & yes, more Gregory Peck marathon!

Hello all… it’s a cinema-free weekend roundup again I’m afraid. But I was really bummed out that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Artist and Coriolanus, THREE of my most-anticipated movies I had hoped would arrive by now are NOWHERE to be found within a 50-mile radius. It’s a shame really, I mean, you’d think that given the excellent reviews the studios would at the very least consider ONE theater in Minneapolis area to carry their movie!! Seriously, sometimes I feel like Hollywood don’t think people in the Upper Midwest don’t watch movies! FYI, we don’t live in igloos, y’know…

Ok, end rant… just need to get that off my system…

Now, thank God for home cinema, as I managed to quite a few stuff this weekend.

Bourne Identity (2002)

As I mentioned in my Five for the Fifth post, we got the Bourne trilogy on Black Friday. This is one of the rare trilogies in which all three movies were actually GOOD, not just decent but EXCELLENT.  It’s been ages since we saw any of the Bourne movies and I kind of forgot most of the details about the first one.

A man is picked up by a fishing boat, bullet-riddled and without memory, then races to elude assassins and recover from amnesia.

Matt Damon really is the perfect choice as Bourne, which was a pleasant surprise to me at the time as he really didn’t strike me as the ‘bad-ass assassin trained to kill with his bare hands’ kind of guy. But yet, he is totally believable as that character, yet has the sensitivity to make you care for his well-being and his ‘mission’ to break away from everything he’s been trained to do. The supporting cast is top notch: Brian Cox, Chris Cooper, Julia Stiles… and Clive Owen in a brief-but-memorable role.

Based on Robert Ludlum’s novel and directed by Doug Liman (Mr & Mrs Smith), this is the anti-Bond espionage thriller that delivers on all counts… action, suspense, intrigue, even romance. German actress Franka Potente (Run, Lola Run) is such a breath of fresh air than the typical Hollywood flawless-but-boring starlet as Bourne’s partner-in-crime turned lover. The filming locations in France, Czech Republic, Italy and Greece offer gorgeous scenery, as well as make the chase even more exciting. I also love the car chase with a vintage mini through the streets of Paris… it almost rival that one in the opening sequence of The Transporter.

Arabesque (1966)

My pal Vince recommended this to me just before I got on with my Gregory Peck marathon. Fortunately, it’s part of the Gregory Peck’s box set I bought just before Thanksgiving.

Story of international intrigue involving a university professor, an Arab prime minister, a ruthless businessman, a beautiful spy, and hieroglyphics.

Some of the reviews I read said this movie’s got a bit of Bond and a bit of Hitchcock. Even the DVD cover and the opening title design with Henry Mancini’s score is VERY Bond-esque. Now, I’ve always thought Gregory would make an awesome Bond, though given his credence, I seriously doubt he’d even consider playing such a role.

According to IMDb, the part of the bumbling professor David Pollock was originally written for Cary Grant, it’s really tailor-made for him. But you know what, I think Peck’s comic timing was pretty darn good. He had that inherently-likable quality about him and he seemed to relish in being all goofy after the serious roles he’s played. The star of the show however, is Sophia Loren. The ultra-sultry Italian actress was in her prime and was more than up for the task to play the seductive Arabic mystery woman Yasmin who knew more than she let on. The fashion by Christian Dior is almost a character itself in this movie, especially the ‘nighty’ she wears the first time she meets Pollock.

You don’t really take this kind of movie seriously, there are more plot holes than the plethora of shoes Loren wore in this movie. But it’s a good escapist fun through and through, with tons of cheeky, memorable scenes, especially the one where Pollock hides inside Yasmin’s shower and playing footsie when she drops the soap! In the Conversation with Gregory Peck documentary, Peck was asked in a Q&A if Loren was really naked in that scene. Peck was coy about it, replying… “I can’t really say, but the view was spectacular.” Ahah, we believe you, Mr. Peck!

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man Tom Robinson against an undeserved rape charge, and his kids against prejudice.

Oh my… where do I begin… there are so many things I want to say on this one. When I’m done with my Gregory Peck marathon (probably in a couple of months?), I plan on writing special appreciation posts on a select few of his films, and for sure this one will be at the top of the list.

Minutes after the film’s over, I tweeted this.. ‘Some films will linger for days, some for weeks, and some a lifetime. I think To Kill A Mockingbird will stay with me forever…’ I’m still mulling it over after seeing this about 48 hours ago. I’m amazed why it took me this long to finally see this masterpiece. My friend Dan at Top 10 Films listed this as number one in his list of Top 10 American Films about Race and Prejudice, and rightly so.

On top of the momentous racial issue, this film also offer a moving depiction of fatherly love… Atticus Finch was the hero to his daughter Scout and son Jem first before he become the town hero defending racial prejudice. His tender scenes with Scout, especially in the bedroom reading scene, is as powerful as his courtroom speech. This is a role tailor-made for Peck who exemplifies quiet strength beautifully, I really can’t imagine anyone else in this role. His Oscar win (his fifth nomination) was truly well-deserved… and of course, more than a little overdue.

Besides Peck, the other performances are noteworthy as well. Brock Peters is excellent as Tom Robinson and his courtroom scenes are really heart-wrenching. Robert Duval in his debut performance only has a brief role here, but it’s certainly memorable. But the film truly belongs to Mr. Peck, it’s no wonder he’ll forever be known as Atticus Finch. It’s also fitting that AFI has chosen Atticus as the Number One On-Screen Hero in the last 100 Years.

Just a little trivia from IMDb:
The watch used in the film was a prop, but author Harper Lee gave Gregory Peck her father’s watch after the film was completed because he reminded her so much of him. Mary Badham (Scout) and Gregory Peck became close during filming and kept in contact for the rest of his life. He always called her Scout.


So what did you all see this weekend? If you’ve seen any of these films, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.