Stewart, Jimmy: Benevolent Screen Father in Old-Fashioned Family Comedies

In 1960s, Jimmy Stewart matured into playing a series benevolent screen fathers, not the rigid patriarch, in several comedies, many directed by Henry Koster, which were extremely popular at the box-office.

His early 1960s comedy fare represents the last era in Hollywood, just before the Vietnam War and anti-War and other protest movements, that the American family was depicted in a naively positive and upbeat, old-fashioned way.

Stewart excelled as a father figure in the 1962 comedy Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, which depicts the (mis)adventures of Stewart, his wife Maureen O’Hara, and their clan, when they rent a house by the ocean for the summer.

Directed by vet Henry Koster, this mildly entertaining comedy was extremely popular at the box-office. It’s not a coincidence that it bears some thematic and tonal resemblance to Father of the Bride, Minnelli’s far superior family fare with a towering, Oscar-nominated performance from Spencer Tracy, as both were based on books written by Edward Streeter.

In 1963, Two years later, in the likable but inconsequential Take Her, She’s Mine, Stewart was cast as the father of a rebellious teenage daughter, played by America’s sweetheart at the time, Sandra Dee.  The comedy, scripted by Nannally Johnson, from a Broadway play by Henry and Phoebe Ephron (parents of writer-director Nora Ephron), was later unofficially remade as The Impossible Years.

James Brolin, who would emerge as a major TV actor, appears briefly in an airport setting.

Two years later, in 1965, Stewart appeared in the semi-whimsical family comedy, Dear Brigitte, also directed by Henry Koster.  He is cast as the husband of Glynis Johns and father of a young genius (played by Stewart’s own son, Mumy), who has a crush on Brigitte Bardot, the French and international sex symbol, who makes a brief appearance playing herself.

James Brolin plays the small part of a student spokesman.