Father... Yes son? I want to wish you a happy Fathers' Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 13, 2012 08:11pm | Post a Comment

Father’s Day
(or occasionally, and originally, “Fathers’ Day"), is (of course) a celebration honoring dads and celebrating positive paternal roles. In most of the world it’s observe on the third Sunday in June (this year, 17 June).

Father’s Day was (rather tellingly) first celebrated a couple of years after the first Mother’s Day, in 1910… and the driving force behind its creation was a woman, Arkansan-born Sonora Louise Smart Dodd.

Sonora Louise Smart Dodd 

Her father, William Jackson was a veteran of the War Between the States who raised Sonora and five other siblings as a single father in Spokane, Washington. June was chosen because Dodd’s father’s birthday was 5 June.  A bill to make Father’s Day an official holiday was introduced in 1913 (the same year the first film called Father’s Day was released) and in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson visited Spokane and voiced his support. He’d succeeded in garnering official recognition for Mother’s Day in 1914 but, for whatever reason, recognition of Fathers’ Day met much more resistance and measures to do so were rejected several times by Congress through Wilson's and President Calvin Coolidge’s presidency.

In the 1920s, Dodd was preoccupied with her studies at the Art Institute of Chicago so her promotions of the holiday ceased and observation faded. When she returned to Spokane in the 1930s, she resumed promoting the holiday with the help of trade groups including tobacconists, tie makers, &c.

Beginning in 1938, the newly-created Father's Day Council (founded by the New York Associated Men's Wear Retailers) brought national attention to the holiday. Not surprisingly, many Americans took a jaundiced view of an observation of which the the popularity was clearly driven by commercial concerns.  

It wasn’t until 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson issued a national proclamation to recognize fathers on the day. President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972 – 58 years after Mother’s Day had been. Does this resistance and delay speak to men’s humility and aversion to gifts and attention – or perhaps to the number of fathers who don’t want to be honored for their familial contributions in the same way that mothers are? Whatever the reason(s),  we seem to have moved on and accepted that showing love for good fathers with a gift is a nice gesture for those that deserve it. Allow me, please, to plug my men's shop, here


Although there are plenty of good films at least in part about fatherhood (Father of the Bride, To Kill a Mockingbird, Ladri di biciclette, In the Name of the Father, &c) – feature films specifically dealing with Father’s Day are harder to think of (although loads of short films hoping to exploit some kind of father-child poignancy seem to be fairly common).

Here is a list of Father's Day related feature films and documentaries you might like to watch if, say, you're just really into celebrating holidays by watching related movies... or maybe you're like me and -- your dad being a right bastard -- you'd rather look at other examples of fatherdom. Whatever the case may be, please let me know what Father's Day-relevant films I've missed.


In Sins of the Children (1930), a German-American widower raises four children in a small town… then one of his sons is struck with tuberculosis. Waterworks ensue.

Isn’t It Romantic? (1948) concerns a veteran of the War Between the States whose daughter is courted by a slimy, city slicker; the town nutjob; and finally, an upstanding, good ol’ country boy. Though it stars the sultry Veronica Lake and is named after an ace Rodgers & Hart tune (that isn’t featured in the film), most of the reviews for it are fairly damning suggesting that poor-filmmaking ensues.

La Fête des Pères
(1989) is a French comedy about a gay couple  (played by Thierry Lhermitte and Alain Souchon) who meet a woman who agrees to bear a child for them – but only if they use natural methods. What ensues is [sing this part] AW-kward!

Stepfather III
(1992) is the final episode in the Stepfather series. In it, Stepfather has escaped from a madhouse after extensive plastic surgery (which explains why he no longer looks like actor Terry O’Quinn). He moves to Deer View, California where he assumes the role of a gardener albeit a murderous one and blood-letting ensues. The action partly takes place on Father’s Day – thus the subtitle on home video versions – “Father’s Day.”

In the German comedy, Irren ist männlich (1996), a successful lawyer’s mistress tells him that she wants children. A fertility test reveals that he’s infertile. So who is the father of the two children in his marriage? Teutonic hilarity ensues.

In the TV movie, Summer of Fear (1996), a family’s summer vacation in the country is threatened by a stranger. Corin Nemec (the actor who played Parker Lewis) ensues.

Ivan Reitman
’s Fathers’  Day (1997), starring Billy Crystal and Robin Williams as two guys who don’t seem to have much in common but are drawn together by an unexpected revelation. Features a cameo from the band Sugar Ray. Squirming ensues.

Mark Lipman
’s Father’s Day (2003) is a documentary about the filmmaker’s father, who committed suicide when Lipman was a teen. What begins as a memorial evolves into an examination of mental illness, suicide, death and their effects on family as grief ensues.

In Father’s Day (2011), a man named Ahab joins up with John and Twink to track down and kill a creature known as “The Father’s Day Killer” which is responsible for the death of Ahab’s dad. Troma ensues.

Father’s Day
(2012) is an Indian, Malayam-language film starring Shehin, Indu Thampi, Revathi, Lal and Shankar Panikkar. The plot concerns a mother who’s a rape victim and a boy in search of his mother. Bollywood-style musical numbers presumably do not ensue.

Happy Father's Day
Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, essayist, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking paid writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in generating advertorials, cranking out clickbait, or laboring away in a listicle mill “for exposure.”
Brightwell has written for Angels Walk LAAmoeblogBoom: A Journal of CaliforniadiaCRITICSHidden Los Angeles, and KCET Departures. His art has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft ContemporaryForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County Store, the book SidewalkingSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured as subject in The Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistCurbedLAEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRWWhich Way, LA?, at Emerson College, and the University of Southern California.
Brightwell is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on AmebaDuolingoFacebookGoodreadsInstagramMubiand Twitter.

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