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15

SUNDAY

The movie Life With Father is based on a play that was based on a memoir, so there may be some truth in it. One supposes that 1947 audiences greeted the film as a charming Victorian sitcom about family life in late-1880s New York, but modern viewers may have trouble comprehending people who dress for breakfast in bustle skirts and three-piece suits. More curious is the fact that the plot centers on convincing Father (a grandly harumphing William Powell) to get baptized. Dad is an all-business businessman who excels at making the servants cry and likes everyone (including his wife, the glorious Irene Dunne) in his or her proper place. Perhaps the notion that Papa isn’t as in charge as he thinks was more comical in the 19th-century context of the script than in the film’s postwar reality, when WASP hegemony was beginning its slow decline. But Father’s Day ultimately comes down to forgiveness, so see Life with the guy who sired you at 8 p.m. at the American City Diner & Cinema Cafe, 5532 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 244-1949. (Dave Nuttycombe)