(director: Douglas Sirk; screenwriters: from the story by George W. George/Joseph Hoffman; cinematographer: Clifford Stine; editor: Russell Schoengarth; music: Frank Skinner; cast: Van Heflin (Brad Stubbs), Patricia Neal (Jean Bowen), Gigi Perreau (Anne Stubbs), Janine Perreau (Patty Stubbs), Virginia Field (Phyllis Reynolds), Richard Denning (Don Adams), Jimmy Hunt (Garrett ‘Gary’ Bowen), Tommy Rettig (David Bowen aka Shorty), Frances E. Williams (Cleo, Jean’s Maid), Elvia Allman (Mrs. G., Brad’s Housekeeper); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ted Richmond; Universal Pictures; 1951)

“A slight sitcom.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A slight sitcom directed by Douglas Sirk (“No Room for the Groom”/”The Lady Pays Off”/”Summer Storm”). It’s based on the story by George W. George and written by Joseph Hoffman. The big joke here is that a widow and widower court each other despite their children’s resentment over their relationship; also, there are a number of predictable embarrassments. It’s a precursor to television’s The Brady Bunch.

Widower TV advertising veep Brad Stubbs (Van Heflin) sends his two young girls (Gigi and Janine Perreau) to summer camp for the first time and meets at the Grand Central train terminal pretty widow Jean Bowen (Patricia Neal) who is also sending her two young boys (Tommy Rettig and Jimmy Hunt) to camp for the first time. When they meet by accident at the Central Park Zoo the next day while walking their dogs, they make a date and hit it off. They have so much in common, they decide to get married. But first they visit their children at camp, planning to stay for the July Fourth week-end to see how the children take to their marriage plans.

The formulaic story has the children at first upset with the marriage plans and doing their best to end it. But the children change their mind when they see the alternatives. Brad’s old flame, a famous TV actress named Phyllis Reynolds (Virginia Field), who can’t take no for an answer, heads to the camp to win back her man. The distraction for Jean is the health nut head counselor (Richard Denning), who is frozen in cheerfulness as if he were a character on television’s Howdy Doody and whom the children fear if he’s their dad they’ll never eat hamburgers again.

It ends up making Sirk’s persistent point that love is crazy and overcomes all sorts of repressive situations. Unfortunately this family value drama is so familiar, and Sirk’s looks too much like all the others to give it his usual subversive edge. If you didn’t know Sirk was the director, you might take it for Yours, Mine and Ours.

Week-End with Father Poster