The Catered Affair (1956) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • At breakfast, Jane announces that she and Ralph are getting married the next week. All Jane and Ralph want is a small wedding with the immediate family and no reception, because Jane's parents are poor and Jane and Ralph can borrow a car for their honeymoon. But at dinner that night, all Ralph's parents talk about are the big weddings they gave their daughters, and everything escalates. Suddenly it's a big wedding breakfast with hundreds of guests. The problem is that for 12 years, Tom has been saving money to buy his own cab and license, but now that he can, all of that money is going towards a wedding that neither he nor Jane nor Ralph really want.

  • Jane Hurley, the daughter of Bronx cabbie Tom Hurley and housewife Aggie Hurley, has just announced to her family that she is getting married to her boyfriend of three years, Ralph Halloran, a teacher from a middle-class background whose father Joe is a successful real-estate agent. The Hurleys and Hallorans have never met and Jane doesn't want her parents to make any extra fuss to appear better off than they are just to compete. Tom, the family spendthrift, agrees. Jane and Ralph decide to be married in four days in a small church ceremony with just the immediate family and no reception, then immediately leave on a driving honeymoon to California. Aggie and Tom had long discussed giving Jane an unspecified amount of money as a wedding gift, which Jane doesn't really want as she and Ralph are eking out a decent living for themselves and she knows money has always been very tight in her parents' household. Outwardly Jane's parents are fine with the marriage plans, but Aggie feels increased societal pressure, as well as guilt over never having done the typical mother-daughter activities with Jane, to give her that big dream wedding, which she admits is really more for herself than Jane. But a lavish wedding means complications for other people, including Tom, who was planning to use that money to start his own taxi company with his friend Sam, the opportunity to do so having suddenly arisen. Through the process of the wedding preparations, Aggie, Tom, Jane, Ralph, and Jack Conlon, Aggie's bachelor brother who has long lived with the Hurleys, look more closely at the whole institution of marriage. of marriage, especially as it applies to their own situation.



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