My top 10 onscreen father-son relationships

There’s no question that the relationship between a son and his father is life shaping. A father can be a hero, a mentor, a bully or even a mystery but whatever the shape connection, it’s always going to be complicated. So it’s not surprising that this family bond is the major theme in so many great movies. These are my favourites.

The-Hunt-2Lucas and Marcus
Played by: Mads Mikkelsen and Lasse Fogelstrøm
Film: The Hunt (2012)
The connection: Marcus is Lucas’ biggest supporter even in the face of terrible circumstances.
“Marcus: Bunch of bastards! Bunch of fucking bastards!

the-godfather-mafia-movieDon Vito and Michael Corleone
Played by: Marlon Brando and Al Pacino
Film: The Godfather (1972)
The connection: Don Vito and Michael have very different ideas about what Michael should do with his life but Michael can’t bear to disappoint his father.
“Don Corleone: How’s your boy?
Michael: He’s good.
Don Corleone: You know, he looks more like you every day.
Michael: He’s smarter than I am. Three years old, and he can already read the funny papers.
Don Corleone: [laughs] Read the funny papers…

photo-Il-etait-une-fois-le-Bronx-A-Bronx-Tale-1993-5Lorenzo and Calogero Anello
Played by: Robert Di Niro and Francis Capra/Lillo Brancato
Film: A Bronx Tale (1993)
The connection: Lorenzo is desperate to keep his son from the lure of the neighbourhood gangs by being a hardworking, honest role model
“Sonny: First of all, I respect you, Lorenzo, you’re a stand-up guy and we’re from the same neighbourhood, but don’t ever talk to me like that again. I tell yor kid to go to school, to go to college…
Lorenzo: You don’t understand: it’s not what you say, it’s what he sees, the clothes, the cars, the money, it’s everything. He tried to throw away his baseball cards because he said Mickey Mantle will never pay the rent.
Sonny: [laughs] He said that to you? I don’t believe this kid.
[They all laugh]
Lorenzo: That’s not funny. Not when your kid has a bigger bank account than you.
Sonny: I offered you a job, you said “No” to me.
Lorenzo: That’s right, and I say “No” now. Just leave my son alone, please.
Sonny: Hey!
[Stands up]
Sonny: Don’t you see how I treat that kid? I treat him like he’s my son.
Lorenzo: He ain’t your son, he’s MY son.
Sonny: He’s what?
Lorenzo: He’s MY son!
Sonny: Hey, get the fuck outta here!
Lorenzo: [Shoved by the gangsters towards the door] I’m not afraid of you.
Sonny: You should be.
Lorenzo: I know who you are, Sonny, I know what you’re capable of, and I would never step out of line, you can ask anyone in the neighbourhood who knows me. But this time, you’re wrong. You don’t fool with a man’s family. This is my son, not yours.
Sonny: What are you gonna do, fight me?
Lorenzo: You stay away from my son!
Sonny: Get outta here before I give you a fucking slap!
Lorenzo: You just stay away from my son!
Sonny: Go ahead!
Lorenzo: I don’t care who you are! You stay away from my son!
[the gangsters force him out of the bar]

pd_luke_skywalker_darth_vader_ll_120717_wblogLuke Skywalker and Darth Vade
Played by: Mark Hamill and David Prowse
Film: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The connection: Oh so complicated! Estrangement, the dark side, Darth’s terrible past…
“Darth Vader: There is no escape. Don’t make me destroy you.
[pauses]
Darth Vader: Luke, you do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover your power. Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.
Luke: I’ll never join you!
Darth Vader: If you only knew the power of the Dark Side. Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.
Luke: He told me enough! He told me *you* killed him!
Darth Vader: No. *I* am your father.
Luke: No. No. That’s not true. That’s impossible!
Darth Vader: Search your feelings, you *know* it to be true!
Luke: [anguished] No! No!

o-AMERICAN-PIE-REUNION-facebookJim and his dad
Played by: Eugene Levy and Jason Biggs
Films: American Pie (1999), American Pie 2 (2001), American Wedding (2003), American Reunion (2012)
The connection: Jim’s dad has a tendency to be a little bit overly honest with his son… especially when it comes to sex but ultimately these two have a genuine close bond and are always there for each other
“Jim’s Dad: [talking about masturbation] It’s like banging a tennis ball against a brick wall, which can be fun. It can be fun, but it’s not a game.
Jim: Right.
Jim: It’s not a game.
Jim: No.
Jim’s Dad: What you want is a partner to return the ball.

Marlin-and-NemoMarlin and Nemo
Voiced by: Albert Brooks and Alexander Gould
Film: Finding Nemo (2003)
The connection: After Nemo is abducted, over-protective Marlin faces his fears and sets off on an epic journey to rescue his son
“Marlin: [Holding Nemo’s cracked egg in his fin] I promise to never let anything happen to you, Nemo.

kramer_vs_kramerTed and Billy Kramer
Played by: Dustin Hoffman and Justin Henry
Film: Kramer vs Kramer (1979)
The connection: After Ted’s wife leaves to “find herself”, he reluctantly takes over as sole parent discovering the joys of fatherhood on the way
“Billy Kramer: Daddy?
Ted Kramer: Yeah?
Billy Kramer: I’m sorry.
Ted Kramer: I’m sorry too. I want you to go to sleep because it’s really late.
Billy Kramer: Daddy?
Ted Kramer: Now what is it?
Billy Kramer: Are you going away?
Ted Kramer: No. I’m staying here with you. You can’t get rid of me that easy.
Billy Kramer: That’s why Mommy left, isn’t it? Because I was bad?
Ted Kramer: Is that what you think? No. That’s not it, Billy. Your mom loves you very much… and the reason she left has nothing to do with you. I don’t know if this will make sense, but I’ll try to explain it to you. I think the reason why Mommy left… was because for a long time… I kept trying to make her be a certain kind of person. A certain kind of wife that I thought she was supposed to be. And she just wasn’t like that. She was… She just wasn’t like that. I think that she tried for so long to make me happy… and when she couldn’t, she tried to talk to me about it. But I wasn’t listening. I was too busy, too wrapped up… just thinking about myself. And I thought that anytime I was happy, she was happy. But I think underneath she was very sad. Mommy stayed here longer than she wanted because she loves you so much. And the reason why Mommy couldn’t stay anymore… was because she couldn’t stand me. She didn’t leave because of you. She left because of me. Go to sleep now because it’s really late, oay? Good night. Sleep tight.
Billy Kramer: Don’t let the bedbugs bite.
Ted Kramer: See you in the morning light.
Billy Kramer: Daddy?
Ted Kramer: Yeah?
Billy Kramer: I love you.
Ted Kramer: I love you too.

bicycle_thief_16Antonio and Bruno Ricci
Played by: Lamberto Maggiorani and Enzo Staiola
Film: Bicycle Thieves (1948)
The connection: Despite their very tough circumstances, Antonio manages to find joy in spending time with his son.
“Antonio Ricci: [He and his son are at a restaurant; together they notice a nearby table, occupied by an apparently well-off family who seem to be eating quite well] To eat like that, you’d have to earn at least a million a month.

BEGINNERS-articleLargeHal and Oliver Fields
Played by: Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor
Film: Beginners (2010)
The connection: As Hal confesses his the truth about his sexuality as well as his terminal illness to Oliver, the two take on Hal’s last years together
“Oliver: Why are you telling them you’re turning the corner?
Hal: Well, uh…
Oliver: You, you have stage four cancer.
Hal: It’s not as bad as it sounds.
Oliver: Pop – There is no stage five.
Hal: [chuckles] That’s not what it means.
Oliver: Well, then what does it mean?
Hal: It just means that it’s been through three other stages.

article-2013514-00188CA900000258-720_468x286Guido and Giosué Orefice
Played by: Roberto Benigni and Giorgio Cantarini
Film: Life is Beautiful (1997)
The connection: Guido sacrifices everything to protect Giosué Orefice after the two of them are placed in a concentration camp
“Giosué Orefice: “No Jews or Dogs Allowed.” Why do all the shops say, “No Jews Allowed”?
Guido: Oh, that. “Not Allowed” signs are the latest trend! The other day, I was in a shop with my friend the kangaroo, but their sign said, “No Kangaroos Allowed,” and I said to my friend, “Well, what can I do? They don’t allow kangaroos.”
Giosué Orefice: Why doesn’t our shop have a “Not Allowed” sign?
Guido: Well, tomorrow, we’ll put one up. We won’t let in anything we don’t like. What don’t you like?
Giosué Orefice: Spiders.
Guido: Good. I don’t like Visigoths. Tomorrow, we’ll get sign: “No Spiders or Visigoths Allowed.”

21 Comments

  1. This is a damn fine list Abbi! 😀

    1. Abbi

      Why thank-you!

  2. Very nice list.Great idea for a list. Jim’s dad is my favourite.

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! Jim’s dad is quite a lot like my dad…

  3. Great post Abbi! Really glad you mentioned The Bicycle Thieves, absolutely love the kid in that film. No SImba/Mufasa?

    1. Abbi

      The Bicycle Thieves is one of my favourite classics, however I am one of approximately 3 people on earth who is indifferent to The Lion King.

  4. I haven’t seen many of these, but those I have definitely include some great relationships. Well. Maybe save Vader and Luke. 🙂

    I especially agree on Life Is Beautiful and The Hunt.

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! I will admit that Vader and Luke are a bit contentious. The relationship between Marcus and Lukas in The Hunt is its beating heart.

      1. It certainly is. Obviously, the same is true of Life is Beautiful’s relationship.

  5. A Bronx Tale is a great film!

    1. Abbi

      I only watched it quite recently but I really enjoyed it.

  6. Love it Abbi! Great list, the whole time I was thinking AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW….

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! It was really touching to compile 🙂

      1. Have you done a mother-daughter one?

        1. Abbi

          Not yet. Saving it for South African mother’s day week in honour of my amazing mum.

          1. Awww that sounds great, I can’t wait to read it! I am guessing mommy dearest will not be on that list. lol.

  7. Great list! Beginners is my favorite pick. My list would definitely include Domnhall Gleeson and Bill Nighy in “About Time”.

    1. Abbi

      I still haven’t seen it. I was a bit reluctant when I saw the trailers but it’s had some great reviews so I’m definitely going to check it out.

        1. That blue is just delicious!!! Love!!!

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