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List: Daddies and Daughters in Movies

posted by Nell Minow

In honor of Eddie Murphy’s new release, “Imagine That,” Father’s Day, and the two best dads I know, my own dear father and my darling husband, here’s a list of great movie dads and daughters.

1. A Little Princess I love all the film versions of the classic novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett about the girl who is mistreated by her school headmistress after the death of her adored father but holds on to her dignity, her integrity, and her imagination. The BBC miniseries is the most authentic, but the 1995 film directed by Alfonso Cuarón is beautifully done.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) is not just a dedicated lawyer and a crack shot, he is one of the best fathers in movie history. Listen to the way he gently explains the importance of courtesy to his daughter and the look on his face as he watches her to make sure she understands.

3. “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes” Edward G. Robinson took a break from his usual tough guy roles to play the loving father of a little girl (Margaret O’Brien) in this gentle story of a Norwegian immigrant farm family living in Wisconsin. The movie is based on a book inspired by the childhood of the author’s wife.

4. Father of the Bride The original has Spencer Tracy as the disconcerted, sometimes choleric, but always devoted father of radiant bride-to-be Elizabeth Taylor.

5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn The mother is the strong one in this story, based on the life of author Betty Smith, but her most precious relationship is with her father (Oscar-winner James Dunn), a weak man in some ways but one whose belief in his daughter never wavered.

6. Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls Tyler Perry’s best film is this story about a loving father (Idris Elba) fighting for custody of his daughters.

7. Paper Moon Real-life father-daughter team Ryan and Tatum O’Neal played two con artists in this classic Depression-era comedy/drama.

8. Love in the Afternoon Grown-up daughters need their fathers, too, and in this Parisian romance Audrey Hepburn plays the daughter of a private investigator (Maurice Chevalier), who knows more than he would like to about the dangers of romantic entanglements.

9. Monsoon Wedding At the heart of a multiple-storyline saga centering on a big wedding, the bride’s father (Naseeruddin Shah) must make a painful decision.

10. The Game Plan Duane “The Rock” Johnson plays a pro quarterback who finds out that he is the father of a little girl and that he has a lot to learn about little girls, about parenting, and about what really matters.



  • Tom

    What about “On Golden Pond” – another real-life Father-Daughter movie.

  • ChatteringMind

    Thanks for putting “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes” on this list, Nell. Great pick! Edward G. Robinson is at his best, and what a great dad he portrays so lovingly here! This was one of my favorite films as a girl. I found it on VHS years ago and shared it with my family, but now I see, as your lack of a link also reveals, that it is out of print. There are two copies of the original book, which is also excellent, for sale on Amazon.com now.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, Chattering! This was also a favorite of my family when I was growing up and I remember very well watching the scene of the two children getting washed away in a laundry tub and realizing that it was scarier for the parents than it was for the children. I recently saw it again on Turner Classic Movies and found it even more touching than I had remembered. You’re right that Robinson is wonderful in this movie, and so is Agnes Moorehead as the mother.

  • Nell Minow

    A great addition, Tom! Many thanks.

  • Anne

    Cheaper by the Dozen (the first one with Clifton Webb as the father). I loved the part where the oldest daughter takes her dad to the dance and he ends up being the life of the party!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Oh, Anne! That is one of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite movies. The original “Cheaper by the Dozen” and its sequel are classics and of course based on a real-life family. Thanks so much for mentioning it!

  • http://whatwouldtotowatch.com Christian Toto

    Solid list … it’s interesting that the majority of your choices involve older movies. Today’s Hollywood seems less interested in this area, one reason which could help “Imagine That” perform better than expected.

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