Life with Father
The longest-running non-musical play in Broadway history, Life With Father was faithfully filmed by Warner Bros. in 1947. William Powell is a tower of comic strength as Clarence Day, the benevolent despot of his 1880s New York City household. Irene Dunne co-stars as Day's wife Vinnie, who outwardly has no more common sense than a butterfly but who is the real head of the household. The anecdotal story, encompassing such details as the eldest Day son's (James Lydon) romance with pretty out-of-towner Mary (Elizabeth Taylor), is tied together by Vinnie's tireless efforts to get her headstrong husband baptized, else he'll never be able to enter the Kingdom of God. Each scene is a little gem of comedy and pathos, as the formidable Mr. Day tries to bring a stern businesslike attitude to everyday household activities, including explaining the facts of life to his impressionable son. Donald Ogden Stewart based his screenplay upon the play by Howard Lindsey (who played Mr. Day in the original production) and Russell Crouse; the play in turn was inspired by a series of articles written by Clarence Day Jr., shortly before his death in 1933. Due to a legal tangle with the Day estate, Life With Father was withdrawn from circulation after its first run; it re-emerged on the Public Domain market in 1975.