Top 10 Father Figures in Film

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Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962
Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962

This Sunday is Fathers Day and to mark the occasion, AnOther brings you our favourite iconic father figures in film...

This Sunday is Father's Day and to mark the occasion, and celebrate dads in all their wisdom and wilfulness, AnOther bring you a heartwarming array of our favourite iconic father figures in film. From the simultaneously terrifying and tender Vito Corleone in The Godfather to the cross-dressing, chuckle inducing Daniel Hillard in Mrs Doubtfire, which dad is your dream pater familias?

1. Atticus Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
A round-spectacled Gregory Peck secured an Oscar for his exceptional portrayal of Harper Lee’s revered hero Atticus Finch, a lawyer and widowed father of two on a mission for equality and racial justice in 1930s Alabama. Through a measured blend of courage, wisdom, leadership and above all love, Finch sets the perfect example for his young son and daughter, while pioneering an important moral standard for parents, lawyers and viewers alike at a time when American was still in a state of civil unrest surrounding the issue of race.

2. Vito Corleone – The Godfather (1972)
The term “father” in the realm of Puzo’s notorious Corleone family is as much a symbol of fear as it is of love. Vito Corleone's (Marlon Brando) family exists in two entities and he is the father of both – on the one hand ruthless as the Don of the Corleone, on the other compassionate and loving as a father to his children and a husband to his wife. As a father in every respect, Vito is in many ways a figure of perfection.

3. Caractacus Potts – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
As far as dads with exciting talents go, it’s hard to top the warm and eccentric Caractacus Potts, inventor of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the magical flying car. The widowed father of Jeremy and Jemima tap-dances, sings, laughs and adventures his way through this family classic with great aplomb, winning the heart of Truly Scrumptious and overcoming the evil inhabitants of Vulgaria along the way.

4. Chas Tenenbaum – The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
In Wes Anderson’s much-loved drama, Ben Stiller is both hilarious and heartbreaking as the eldest Tenenbaum child Chas – a mathematical genius with a grudge against his father and a stiflingly overprotective approach towards his own sons, Ari and Uzi, following the death of his wife in a plane crash. Typical of Anderson’s idiosyncratic visuals, the three make an arresting sight in matching red Adidas tracksuits worn throughout the film (with the exception of a funeral where they are respectfully replaced with black versions). It is only when his own father decides to make amends that Chas can finally face his demons and take a more carefree approach to parenting.

5. Jack Holden,  Michael Kellam and Peter Mitchell – Three Men and a Baby (1987)
Three Men and a Baby took box offices by storm following its release in 1987, surpassing Fatal Attraction on the chart, and winning the hearts of viewers worldwide for its farcical take on (joint) fatherhood. Ted Danson, a magnificently moustached Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenberg play bachelor flatmates who find themselves parents overnight after a baby girl (the result of a one night stand on Danson’s part) is left on their doorstep by her job-centric mother. Hilarity, close scrapes with the law, suspense and the ultimate happy ending ensue.

6. Daniel Hillard – Mrs Doubtfire (1993)
In terms of fathers going the extra mile for their children, Robin Williams – as voice actor and recent divorcee Daniel Hillard in 1993’s Mrs Doubtfire – ranks pretty highly. Desperate to spend time with his kids after losing a custody battle, Hillard spends his working day in the rubber-masked, body-suited guise of Euphegenia Doubtfire, an aged nanny with a reassuring Scottish lilt. Soon Mrs Doubtfire becomes the ever-dependable, thoughtful and efficient force that Hillard failed to be within the family, and he undergoes a real-life transformation courtesy of his colourful and caring alter ego.

7. Ted Kramer – Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
After his wife leaves him, Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman), a work-obsessed advertising executive, finds himself having to care for his son by himself and as a result regains his sense of family values and the importance of fatherhood. When his wife (played by Meryl Streep) returns and attempts to reclaim custody over Billy, Ted must prove his worth as a father in court and challenge the conception that “a woman is a better parent simply by virtue of her sex.”

8. Dean Proffitt – Overboard (1987)
A film that places family above social standing, doing so with a dose of comedy, Overboard shows the transformation of a wealthy heiress thrown into the domestic struggles of the working class Proffitt family and forced to take on a maternal role. At the center of this mishap is the hard-working father Dean (Kurt Russell) whose commitment to his children makes a lasting impression which acts to strip her of her ties to high society.

9. Uncle Buck (1989)
Although not strictly speaking a father, Uncle Buck (John Candy) is a larger-than-life figure who brings a new and entertaining lease of life into the world of the Russell family. Unemployed and a habitual gambler, Uncle Buck enters middle-class suburbia and challenges initial preconceptions by ultimately proving himself capable of caring for three kids, and raising a much needed smile among them to boot.

10. Fred Flintstone – The Flintstones (1960-1966)
Based on the popular characters of Jackie Gleeson, the Neolithic creation of Joseph Hanna & William Barbera is a father figure painted with all the characteristics of a lovable, blue-collar Dad. Operating a "bronto crane" daily for the Slate Rock and Gravel Company, Fred Flintstone acts as the Stone Age proxy for a working class father and his family.

Text by Edward Moore and Daisy Woodward