WEEKEND WITH FATHER (1951) B/W 83m dir: Douglas Sirk
w/ Van Heflin, Patricia Neal, Gigi Perreau, Virginia Field, Richard Denning, Jimmy Hunt, Janine Perreau, Tommy Rettig, Gary Pagett, Frances Williams, Elvia Allman
The plot synopsis from Jon Halliday's Sirk on Sirk: "A widower, Brad Stubbs [Heflin], and a widow, Jean Bowen [Neal], meet while sending their children off to camp. He is being pursued by a glamorous TV star [Field], whom his daughters would like him to marry; she is pursued by a nature-boy PT instructor [Denning], whom her sons would like her to marry. 'It has the Thoreau theme in it; it ties up with All That Heaven Allows.... I can't remember the picture too well any longer. I think I did it only for the children.' (Sirk)."
This was only Sirk's fourth film for Universal International Studios, and it would be two more years before he'd make MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION, the first of his very successful American melodramas. This film is interesting because it represents an early example of the function children serve in Sirk's work: disruption and repression. WEEKEND WITH FATHER is a comedy, so their actions don't have dire repercussions, but the kids in the melodramas can really cause trouble (in THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW and ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS, for example).
An article from the New York Times by Hal Erickson, Rovi: "This seminal Brady Bunch stars Van Heflin as a widower and Patricia Neal as a widow. Both parties have several children by their first marriages. Heflin and Neal fall in love and decide to marry, each hoping to adopt the other's kids. The couple idealistically subscribes to the 'one big happy family' theory, but they hadn't figured that their kids would dislike the idea...and each other. This mild situation comedy was directed with lots of efficiency but little style by Douglas Sirk, who did better for himself with Universal's big-budget romantic melodramas of the mid-1950s."