The Catered Affair (1956) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Catered Affair (1956)

The Catered Affair (1956)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Bette Davis goes the "kitchen sink drama" route in The Catered Affair. As the frowsy wife of Bronx cabdriver Ernest Borgnine, Davis insists that her daughter Debbie Reynolds have a high-class wedding--caterers and all. Reynolds and future hubby Rod Taylor want a simple ceremony, but Davis' mind is made up. The wedding snowballs into an unwieldy affair as Davis and Borgnine find that they must invite everyone they know or risk incurring the wrath of their neighborhood. When the cost of the affair exceeds the family's bank account, Davis rails at Borgnine for failing to be a good provider. It takes her till the very end of the film to realize what a fool she's been. Gore Vidal, of all people, adapted The Catered Affair from a TV drama written by Paddy Chayefsky; the original telecast had starred Thelma Ritter. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Cast

Bette Davis
as Mrs. Agnes Hurley
Ernest Borgnine
as Tom Hurley
Debbie Reynolds
as Jane Hurley
Barry Fitzgerald
as Uncle Jack Conlon
Rod Taylor
as Ralph Halloran
Robert Simon
as Mr. Halloran
Robert F. Simon
as Mr. Halloran
Madge Kennedy
as Mrs. Halloran
Dorothy Stickney
as Mrs. Rafferty
Carol Veazie
as Mrs. Casey
Ray Stricklyn
as Eddie Hurley
Jay Adler
as Sam Leiter
Dan Tobin
as Caterer
Augusta Merighi
as Mrs. Musso
Mae Clarke
as Saleswoman
Jimmy Fox
as Tailor
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Critic Reviews for The Catered Affair

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (3)

Overall, the performances are good and there are occasionally amusing and touching momemts in the otherwise talky, mostly drab, affair under Richard Brooks' direction.

April 8, 2008 | Full Review…

Richard Brooks directed in a sort of free-wheeling way that carries the action jumpily from poignancy to farce and from moments of frowsy frustration to scenes of vulgar squawling en famille.

March 25, 2006 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

The tragedy got lost somewhere in Richard Brooks's crushingly blunt direction.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

This eminently watchable misfire divides amateur and professional critics alike.

April 8, 2008 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Kitchen Sink Realism Paddy Chayefsky style and Bette Davis as a frumpy Bronx housewife sounds like contradiction in terms, and it is.

March 25, 2008 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Plays like Marty but without the same winsome appeal.

November 26, 2007 | Rating: C | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Catered Affair

This family drama is a quiet little movie, so if you're looking for a lot of action or a complicated plot, it's probably not for you. What it does offer is fantastic acting, a nuanced story, and a study in characters. Bette Davis plays a middle-aged housewife married to her cabbie husband (Ernest Borgnine). One morning, their daughter (Debbie Reynolds) casually announces to them that she intends to get married (to Rod Taylor), and that the two of them are going to have a simple legal ceremony with only immediate family present. In part because Davis didn't get a wedding herself and in part because she's disillusioned with her own marriage, she begins lobbying Reynolds to have a bigger wedding. I won't say anything more about the plot. There are some outstanding scenes with supporting actors in the movie, including one with the groom-to-be's parents at a dinner party (Robert Simon and Madge Kennedy), and others with the bride-to-be's elderly uncle, a confirmed bachelor, and a woman he sees socially (Barry Fitzgerald and Dorothy Stickney). In fact, Fitzgerald and Stickney were probably my favorite part of the movie, but it's hard to deny the excellent performances Davis, Borgnine, and Reynolds all deliver. Director Richard Brooks was brave in giving them the limelight in a "less is more" approach, and it paid off. It's hard to fathom some of the "professional" critics' negative reviews, and even though these things are always a bit subjective, I think if you like 'small' movies, you'll like this one.

Antonius Block
Antonius Block

Super Reviewer

½

Good simple kitchen sink drama with lovely well obseved performances from all.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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