Fathers day, that day when we celebrate the men who perform the most important job in the world, fatherhood (with acting coach and any corporate position from middle management on up being the exceptions), is upon us. Fathers teach us how to make our way in a confusing world and how to go from being a boy to being a man. Sadly, shortly after my own birth, I was abandoned in a dumpster that was left in another, bigger dumpster, and was raised by nuns in an orphanage, so I had to find my father figures where I could…I found mine in the cinema.
And so, in tribute to those brave men who followed their biological instinct and impregnated some random woman who then later gave birth to a child, as is common among the species, I have compiled a list of the greatest fathers in film. These are the men who inspired me, and taught me how to be the truly and remarkably amazing man I am today.
5. Vito Corleone The Godfather - Vito was a father to many, and Godfather to us all. Along with his four biological children, Vito took in Tom Hagan and raised him as his own. Vito taught his children the value of family above all else, and even taught his nephew Johnny to "act like a man." Always the master negotiator, Vito made a lot of offers that people could not refuse. It is from Vito Corleone that I learned that spoiling and having a sentimental weakness for your children and not teaching them that they should never let anyone outside of the family know what your really thinking, as he did with Sonny, will get them murdered on the causeway. I also got my love of animals from Vito…especially horses.
4. Daniel Plainview There Will Be Blood - Daniel adopted the child of a co-worker killed in an accident and raised him as his own as a single father. Plainview kept his adopted son close by his side and taught him the ins and outs of his business. When his son went deaf due to a drilling accident, Plainview "abandons the child" to a school for the deaf very, very faraway so he doesn't have to deal with nuisance of a deaf kid. At the end of the film, Plainview and his son have a touching reunification, and Plainview makes amends to his son by doing what every good father must to prove his love, he beat a preacher to death with a bowling pin. If that doesn't say fatherly love, I don't know what does.
3. Darth Vader Star Wars Trilogy - Yes, there was the whole hunting his son down to kill him and the hand cutting off incident and the whole blowing up of his daughters planet thing…but deep down Darth Vader only did those things because he cared TOO much. Isn't that what fatherhood is all about? As a great man once said, it is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission…Darth Vader lived that saying to the maximum…it is just too bad his moronic kids never learned that lesson and joined him on the dark side.
2. Humbert Humbert Lolita - The only reason Humbert married his wife was so that he could be a father to her teen daughter, Lolita. Humbert was considerate enough to take his young, nubile and precocious teen step daughter under his wing and show her what true love was all about after her mother tragically died. Humbert, who is so nice they named him twice, was, like all good fathers, always willing to play a fun game with Lolita. Humbert Humbert taught his step daughter Lolita that love means never having to say you're sorry….and never having to wait until the age of consent.
1. Jack Torrance The Shining - Jack taught his son Danny the most valuable lesson of all, the need for discipline and commitment. When Jack's job at the Overlook hotel is in jeopardy because of his idiotic wife and her meddling, Jack takes matters into his own hands. The touching scene at the end where Jack goes for a heartfelt stroll with his son Danny through the snow covered maze makes me choke up every single time I see it. The film ends with a shot of Jack's frozen body, which could be a statue titled, "Father of the Year".
There you have it…my five inspirational cinematic father figures. Thank you to all the dads out there!! I hope you have a joyous fathers day.