Happy Father’s Day: Best Fathers in Literature/Film

Fathers get a bad name sometimes. Especially in literature and film. If a dad is absent, a character almost gets an excuse to be dysfunctional and then go on an journey to be a better person. But sometimes, Dad is the guy who shows you the way to growing up, or meets you there. Since tomorrow is Father’s Day, I wanted to showcase my favorite literary/film fathers.

1. Atticus Finch, single father to Jem and Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, as portrayed by Gregory Peck

No contest. Atticus Finch is the best fictional dad ever. He’s moral, kind, and wise. Plus he totally gets his children. Aside from Calpurnia, he is raising his children on his own. Though TKAM is told through the eyes of Scout, it is a story of the whole community and Atticus Finch is the moral fiber holding the whole town together. Sometimes he fails, but Atticus can always hold his head up high around his children. I would love to have Atticus as a dad (and he actually reminds me a lot of my father).

Best Dad Moment

Stand up, your father's passing

Rev. Sykes: Jean Louise. Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passing.

Atticus has just lost the case for Tom Robinson, and Scout (Jean Louise), in her child-like wonder, and her retrospective narrative realizes how rare a man like her father is.

2. Silas Marner, adoptive father to Eppie, Silas Marner, by George Eliot

This guy is the literary daddy trope. His life is turned around from despair to joy when he adopts orphan Eppie. He is completely without purpose before his role as her adoptive father.

Best Dad Moment

When Eppie chooses to stay with her weaver adoptive father opposed to return to her birth father, who is a gentleman. This is testament to the current issue of gay couples adopting, showing that that it is the love you give the child that is important, not who you are.

3. Guido, father to Joshua, Life is Beautiful, as portrayed by Roberto Bernini

First Guido is focused on capturing the heart of his principesa, with goofy antics and sweet, Italian charm. Then this movie takes a turn for the worse. Quickly. But the relationship between Guido and his son Joshua is always adorable and reminds us that dads can come scare (make fun of) the monsters (Nazis).

Best Dad Moment

4. John Kinsella and Ray Kinsella, fathers to Ray, and Karen, respectively, Field of Dreams, as portrayed by Dwier Brown and Kevin Costner

The movie is the stuff that man tears are made of. The relationship between the Kinsellas is by no means awesome/perfect. They actually have kind of a bad relationship. But I put this on here because that moment when they play catch and Ray knows that his dad knows how well he’s turned out and that one point they basically were the same, bright-eyed kids watching baseball games. And in turn, Ray is a great dad is his little girl, Karen. Every man’s goal should be to be a better father than his own.

Best Dad Moment

Field of Dreams (I could not get the video to embed into the post!)

Ray Kinsella: Hey… Dad?

Ray Kinsella: You wanna have a catch?

John Kinsella: I’d like that.

5. Jean Valjean, adoptive single father to Cosette, Les Miserables, Victor Hugo, as portrayed on stage by Colm Wilkinson in the musical version

Similar to Silas Marner, Jean Valjean is an adoptive father, except he isn’t just a miser, he is a felon. Cosette, his adoptive daughter, goes through the journey of poverty to bourgeoisie, is ignorant of her father’s dark past and how hard he had to work to save her. Be appreciative of your daddys, kiddos.

Best Dad Moment

Here Jean Valjean is singing about Marius, Cosette’s beloved. Eventually Jean Valjean saves Marius from the barricades and finds redemption.

6. Professor Henry Jones, single father to Indiana, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as portrayed by Sean Connery

Actually, Dr. Henry Jones was not an awesome dad for Indiana’s childhood, caring more about his intellectual pursuits. But we have to let our dads be redeemed! and the Dr.’s redemption is sweet and subtle, when he calls his son Indiana for the first time. My favorite part of their relationship though, is the realization that even if Indy didn’t enjoy his father as a father, they could enjoy each other as men.

Best Dad Moment

Professor Henry Jones: Actually, I was a wonderful father.
Indiana Jones: When?
Professor Henry Jones: Did I ever tell you to eat up? Go to bed? Wash your ears? Do your homework? No. I respected your privacy and I taught you self- reliance.
Indiana Jones: What you taught me was that I was less important to you than people who had been dead for five hundred years in another country. And I learned it so well that we’ve hardly spoken for twenty years.
Professor Henry Jones: You left just when you were becoming interesting.

7. Marlin, single father to Nemo, Finding Nemo, voiced by Albert Brooks

Aww, kids growing up and dads are being over protective! But guess what?!? It isn’t too trite because hey look, they’re fish! Super cute and sweet, Finding Nemo is also a non-ableist look at physical and mental handicaps.

Best Dad Moment

Marlin: Sea turtles? I met one, and he was a hundred and fifty years old.
Nemo: Hundred and fifty?
Marlin: Yup.
Nemo: Oh. ‘Cause Sandy Plankton said that they only live to be a hundred.
Marlin: Sandy Plankton? You think I would travel the whole ocean and not know as much as Sandy Plankton? He was a hundred and fifty, not a hundred.

8. Mr. Bennett, father to Jane, Lizzy, Mary, Kitty and Lydia, Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

Mr. Bennett is a little aloof and distant from his family, letting Mrs. Bennett run the girls lives. But he does know his children well enough to know that Lizzy doesn’t want to marry Mr. Collins, though it would be the logical solution to their financial problems.

Best Dad Moment

“An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”

9. Captain von Trapp, father to Liesl, Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta, and Gretl, The Sound of Music, as portrayed by Christopher Plummer

Ooo distant father learns to let music into his home and heart so that he love his children! Sappy…and adorable. The real life story isn’t quite romantic (they didn’t really walk over the Alps, if they had they would’ve ended up in Germany) but Captain von Trapp is sweet and caring and loves and protects him family.

10. Ted Kramer, single father to Billy, Kramer v. Kramer, as portrayed by Dustin Hoffman

This movie was perfect for the time it was released. Women were going to work and being mothers and divorce was on the rise and losing its stigma. Ted Kramer realizes that he has to bend gender roles in order to do what is best for his child.

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