Life with Father
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Produced by: Robert Buckner
Written by: Clarence Day, Jr. (autobiography)

Donald Ogden Stewart (screenplay) Jack Sher (additional dialogue)

Cast: William Powell, Irene Dunne,
Elizabeth Taylor, Edmund Gwenn,
Zasu Pitts, Jimmy Lydon
Studio: Warner Bros.
Runtime: 118 mins
Country: United States
Language: English
Ratings: US:Approved; Australia:G

Life with Father is a 1947 film featuring the humorous adventures of a late Victorian-era father of a large, colorful family in New York City.

It is based on the autobiographical book by Clarence Day, Jr., which was adapted into a 1939 Broadway play by Lindsay and Crouse, and after the 1947 movie, into a television series.

The 1947 comedy movie tells the true story of a stockbroker who wants to be master of his house, but finds his wife and his children ignoring him, until they start making demands for him to change his own life. It stars William Powell, Irene Dunne, Elizabeth Taylor, Edmund Gwenn, Zazu Pitts, Jimmy Lydon and Martin Milner.

The movie was adapted by Donald Ogden Stewart from the play by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, which was based on the book by Clarence Day, Jr.. It was directed by Michael Curtiz.

It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (William Powell), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color, Best Cinematography, Color and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.

The New York Times, in an August 16, 1947 review, hailed Powell's performance as Father.

"His Father is not merely a performance; it is character delineation of a high order and he so utterly dominates the picture that even when he is not on hand his presence is still felt."

Of Dunne's performance as Mrs. Day, the paper equally raves:

"She interprets Vinnie Day with charm, wit and an exactness that perfectly complement Mr. Powell's Father. The way she finally cajoles her rebellious husband into making the journey up to Audubon Park to submit to the baptismal rites which his parents had somehow overlooked is handled by Miss Dunne with great charm and feminine wile."


In 1883 New York City, a Wall Street Broker, Clarence Day, believes he is the king of his castle, though his seemingly clueless and scatterbrained wife actually rules the roost with intelligence and grace, and his brood is quite unruly.

In several humorous episodes, he discovers that whether it's his wife's shopping habits (or allowance) or his own baptism, he is not actually in charge of his own life after all.

A review at the time said the film "is not so much a story as it is a reflection of little incidents, which agitate a short tempered, despotic parent They are the kind of crises peculiar to family life, where a prudent husband and father of four sons attempts to run his home on a business-like basis. While Father goes into a towering rage at the slightest provocation, stamping his feet at the breakfast table when the coffee isn't right, he is at heart a very kind, tolerant and sympathetic old man." (NYT 16 Aug. 1947)

Cast members[]

  • William Powell - Clarence 'Father' Day
  • Irene Dunne - Vinnie Day
  • Elizabeth Taylor - Mary Skinner
  • Edmund Gwenn - Rev. Dr. Lloyd
  • Zasu Pitts - Cousin Cora Cartwright
  • Jimmy Lydon - Clarence Day, Jr.
  • Emma Dunn - Margaret
  • Moroni Olsen - Dr. Humphries
  • Elisabeth Risdon - Mrs. Whitehead
  • Derek Scott - Harlan Day
  • Johnny Calkins - Whitney Day
  • Martin Milner - John Day
  • Heather Wilde - Annie

Selected quotes[]

  • "Work never hurt anyone. It's good for them. But if you're going to work, work hard. King Solomon had the right idea about work. 'Whatever thy hand findest to do,' Solomon said, 'do thy doggonedest.'" - William Powell as Clarence Day
  • "Why did God make so many dumb fools and Democrats?" - William Powell as Clarence Day
  • "I don't go to church to be preached at as though I were some lost sheep." - William Powell as Clarence Day
  • "I do wish the New Haven [train] would stop having wrecks. If they knew how much it upsets your father." - Irene Dunne as Vinnie Day


  • The word "damn" - which was uttered often by Father in the stage version - were cut from the movie
  • Life With Father was made into a television series in 1953, starring Leon Ames and Lurene Tuttle.

External links[]