If you are planning a wedding this year, you might want to watch this movie or you might want to watch it after the big event has happened. If you are married, this movie will remind you of the planning that went into your own trip down the matrimonial aisle. It is a movie with charm, grit, and truth permeating through out it. The Catered Affair was originally a teleplay, written by Paddy Chayefsky, and also known as Wedding Party. In 1956, it was turned into a movie by MGM with screenplay by Gore Vidal and directed by Richard Brooks. The talented cast featured Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, Debbie Reynolds, Barry Fitzgerald, and Rod Taylor. This was Taylor’s first film after being signed by MGM and if you listen closely, his Australian accent escapes now and then, which I found fun to hear.
The movie opens with Tom Hurley( Ernest Borgnine) driving his taxi cab back to the garage after a night shift of work. He is approached by his good friend and fellow cabbie, Sam(Jay Adler), that another cabbie is going to retire and he wants to sell Sam and Tom his cab along with the desired NYC Taxi Medallion, for the price of $8000. Tom and Sam, it is revealed, have been saving their money for years to make such a deal and both have $4000 in the bank. It is agreed that on Sunday, they’ll meet with the seller and make the deal. Tom heads for home and prepares to go to bed as his wife and two kids are getting ready for their day.
Aggie(Bette Davis) is a hard-working housewife. Jane(Debbie Reynolds) is the Hurley’s daughter, I would guess she’s in her early 20s, and Eddie(Ray Stricklyn) is their 18 year old son. As the family goes through their morning routines and Tom grabs a plate of eggs before heading off to bed, Jane announces that she and her boyfriend of 3 years, Ralph Halloran(Rod Taylor), have decided to get married. Ralph is a school teacher and he has a winter break coming up. The young couple have decided that they’ll have a simple wedding, just the parents and siblings present, and they’ve already talked to the Hurley’s family priest who has agreed to start posting the banns. Ralph also has a friend selling a car to someone in California, but the friend can’t drive the car out there because his wife is expecting a baby soon, so Ralph and Jane will drive the car to California, and that will be their honeymoon.
At first, Aggie and Tom take the news well. Tom congratulates Jane on her sensible thinking. He shares what another family spent on a daughter’s wedding and how outrageous it is to spend that much money on a wedding! With his proclamation made, Tom goes off to bed. Aggie realizes that if only immediate family are to be at the wedding, than she’ll have to break the news to her brother Jack(Barry Fitzgerald), that he won’t be able to attend the ceremony despite him living with the Hurley’s. Uncle Jack doesn’t take the news well, and this starts the wheels in motion for Aggie to become obsessed with giving Jane a big wedding and reception.
We see Aggie convincing Jane to have a big wedding day for future memories to have to hold on to. We see Aggie going through the $4000 that Tom has saved as if money just grows on trees. No amount of concern from Tom or Jane is slowing Aggie down from her quest to give her daughter a big wedding and reception. Will this happening happen? Will Jane and Ralph just elope? Will Tom stop Aggie from spending all of his savings which he intended for a new taxi and medallion and business with Sam? You, the potential viewer, will have to seek this movie out to find the answers!