Anthony Biddle is a very eccentric man, who teaches a bible/boxing class and has 12 pet alligators. He is a family man at heart and cares deeply for his children, especially Cordy. He was angry at Aunt Mary's suggestion to send Cordy to school, because he didn't want his family to be separated. He gives in though but he still doesn't like the feeling of an "empty nest."
He was very upset when his Alligator nearly froze to death, but was then delighted to see them running around the house, much to everyone else's horror.
Mr. Biddle is also extremely patriotic and wants to join the war efforts. In the end he finally gets commissioned into the Marines like he always wanted.
Role in the Film
Anthony Biddle is first introduced when he comes into the kitchen after his pet alligator, George. He is angry that his family isn't there and sings about how they really should (What's Wrong With That?). Cordy comes in while he's singing and Mr. Biddle shows his injury to her, who thinks its a shaving cut. She says its not a bad cut and says she has to get ready for a date. Mr. Biddle tells his butler to be John Lawless to tell his sons to get the first aid kit. He answers the door for Cordy's date and his boys, Tony and Liv, bring him the first aid kit. When Tony says Cordy can find a better date than the one she's got, Mr. Biddle says she could, but not right now. When Cordy's date get's knocked out by her brothers, she blames her father for boys not liking her by always starting fights.
Mr. Biddle is having one of his Bible/Boxing classes when Aunt Mary arrives. He comes in to see his wife and Aunt Mary, in her normal crabby self. Aunt Mary came because she doesn't think Cordy is being brought up like a proper lady and wants her to be sent off to school. Mr. Biddle is against it and think he's taking good care of her. Cordy overhears the conversation and says she would love to go to school. Mr. Biddle doesn't understand why Cordy would want to leave. Cordy says that she isn't like the other girls and wants to become more feminine. Mr. Biddle gives in but he isn't happy about it. Mrs. Biddle says its better this way but Mr. Biddle begs to differ. Mrs. Biddle says that Cordy needs to discover herself. A frustrated Mr. Biddle decides to unload some steam in his gym.
At the gym he notices Cordy punching a punching bag. Cordy apologizes for wanting to leave but Mr. Biddle says its okay and that its about time she left home. Cordy says she is afraid, which Mr. Biddle says she has nothing to be afraid of. They hug and Cordy says that he is the greatest father ever.
When John Lawless finds his Alligator room, Mr. Biddle tells him that he got them with a pack of Seminole Indians in Florida. He then perfectly made the alligator's mating call which riles them up. He then asks who John Lawless is and John properly introduces himself as the new butler. He has some small talk with John about boxing where John reveals he was a champion in Ireland. Mr. Biddle suggests John apply for citizenship. John says he will but he will always remain Irish in his heart. (I'll Always Be Irish)
When Cordy is at school, she gets a letter from her dad saying that he's been teaching his Bible Class Military procedures.
A little while later Mr. Biddle goes to Washington, in hopes of joining the war but fails to get enlisted. He later has a party at his home where he invites members of the marine corps. Mr. Biddle reveals that the Marines want to work his own Philadelphia Corps to prepare for the war. He then expresses his interest to join the war to his guests (I Believe in This Country). When a marine says its good to have a wealthy and elderly man on their side, Mr. Biddle takes his marine guests to box with them. He defeats the marine in a match showing he stills has the power and ambition. Mr. Biddle makes a deal with the marine that they will teach his Philadelphia Corps if he doesn't tell anyone of his humiliating defeat.
Sometime later Mr. and Mrs. Biddle come home from a military parade to see that someone has left the door open in the alligator conservatory, freezing the pools of alligators. Mr, Biddle immediately calls John to help him thaw his precious Alligators out. Mr. Biddle persistently tries to thaw out the alligators, but he just admits that their dead. He then gets a phone call that Cordy is missing from school. Cordy happily arrives home, and says she arrived with her new fiancee Angie Duke. Mr. Biddle is incredibly furious at the idea of Cordy getting married. Cordy hopes that he will come to like Angie but Mr. Biddle still isn't pleased. Mr. Biddle expresses his dissatisfaction to his wife, but she just says that she's an adult now and she and she is allowed to make decisions on her own. The next morning, Mr. Biddle is awoken by the maid who was screaming that alligators had infested the house. Mr. Biddle was delighted to see that his alligators were alive and well. He then apologizes for acting so rude to Cordy and says that he would like to meet her new fiance. Cordy is happy to hear this and hugs her father.
In the start of Act 2, Mr. Biddle has invited Angie over to dinner and is telling him about how he wants America to get into the war. Mr. Biddle seems frustrated with Angie, because he can't seem to find common ground with him. When Angie finds one of Mr. Biddle alligators in the dining room, he is startled but Mr. Biddle doesn't seem to mind. Cordy and Angie go to the parlor where Angie reveals he is scared to death of Mr. Biddle. Cordy tells him to be unorthodox with him and he'll do fine. When Mr. Biddle enters the room, Angie tells him that he doesn't see the point of boxing. Mr. Biddle is displeased with that and asks John to get his boxing gloves. Angie decides to a be his opponent for the boxing match and they fight. Mr. Biddle beats Angie and then asks him if he was upset at the loss. Angie says if he really was upset he would have defeated Mr. Biddle. Angie then shows him some Jujitsu moves on Mr. Biddle. Mr. Biddle is impressed by Angie's Jujitsu and wants Angie to teach it to him. Mr Biddle then gives his blessing to Cordy and Angie, and wants to meet Angie's Family. Cordy moves to New York to get to know Angie's family.
Mr. Biddle later visits Cordy in New York, where he asks how Cordy is doing. Mr. Biddle then meets Angie's mother Mrs. Duke. Mr. Biddle says that he is sorry for not excepting Mrs. Duke's previous invitations in that he's been busy with the war effort. Mrs. Duke seems disinterested with Mr. Biddle's talk about war but invites him to stay anyways. Mr. Biddle can't as he has a train to catch. Cordy decides to go with him to the station to spend some more time with her father. When Cordy and Angie leave the room, Mrs. Duke asks Mr. Biddle whether or not he likes the idea of the marriage. Mr. Biddle says he okay with it, but Mrs. Duke senses he's dissatisfied, too. Mr. Biddle just says it takes getting used to. In the car ride over to the station, Cordy says she would like to come later because she is feeling tired. Cordy is feeling like a stranger to Angie's family and wants to spend time with her own. Mr. Biddle doesn't like this and just wants Cordy to be happy (What's Wrong with That? (Reprise))
Later at an extravagant party held by the Biddles in honor of Cordy and Angie's engagement, Mr. Biddle shows Mrs. Duke some members of his Bible lesson class, who Mrs. Duke seems slightly repulsed by. Mr. Biddle then sings an Italian aria to entertain his guests. Mrs. Duke thinks that Mr. Biddle looks like a fool singing like that, which angers Cordy. After Aunt Mary arrives, Mr. Biddle greets her in the living room. Mrs. Duke then complains to Mr. Biddle why the Dukes haven't received their wedding invitations. Mr. Biddle says that he and John sent the invitations and sends John to look for them. When Cordy calls of the wedding due to the two families bickering, Mr. Biddle say that she has the right to do so if he wants to. When Angie leaves in frustration, Mr. Biddle tells John to follow him. When Mrs. Dukes asks Mr. Biddle what he intends to do about the invitations, he get's confused and Mrs. Duke asks him to talk some sense into his daughter. Mr. Biddle then gets angry that everyone was blaming him for the missing invitations and the called of engagement.When his wife says it was his fault he denies it, but then suddenly gets pulled out by his Bible class students to drink a toast to the father of the bride.
Mr. Biddle wakes up bright and hardy, but his wife refuses to talk to him. Mr. Biddle gets frustrated at his wife and says he has nothing to confess. Mr. Biddle says he was accepting of Cordy and Angie's wedding, its just that he was being himself. Mrs. Biddle says that he been himself too much and played into every source of trouble he could. He denies it, then Mrs. Biddle asks hi weather or not he's done anything to support the marriage. Mr. Biddle still says he didn't do anything wrong but Mrs. Biddle says that he knows what he did wrong in his heart, or he wouldn't be angry. Cordy perkily greets her parents, who initially seems to be fine about her marriage being called off, but then runs off to the stable gym crying. Mr. Biddle follows after her to try to comfort her, but Cordy says theirs nothing to talk about. She admits that Angie was a childish Mama's boy and didn't know how to truly live life. Mr. Biddle says that he'll learn and that maybe, he and Cordy will learn together. Mr. Biddle admits then he always liked Angie, he just didn't want Cordy to leave. He then says he supports her 100% but it's her own life so she has to make the decisions. Cordy hugs her beloved father when Mrs. Duke comes in looking for Angie. She says that Angie hasn't been in his hotel room and wonders where he's been. Mr. Biddle calls John, who says that Angie is in jail. Mr. Biddle says that he'll sort out the problem in no time.
At the Jail Mr. Biddle asks the ladies to wait while he talks to Angie privately. Angie is suffering from a massive hangover and doesn't want to leave his cell. He wanted to leave to go to China last night but now doesn't know where to go. Mr. Biddle coyly says to Angie that he better do everything he is expected to do which makes Angie stand uo to Mr. Biddle and say that no one will make his decisions for him. Mr. Biddle says the door is open now and he's free to do whatever he wants. Angie asks Cordy to elope with him, but refuses because he thinks her father talked him into it. Angie picks her up and they head to Detroit together, just like Mr. Biddle wanted.
Mr. Biddle returns home to a very empty, lonely house. Mrs. Biddle suggests that know that they are free, they could go traveling. Mr. Biddle immediately wants to go to Detroit to see Cordy and Angie. Mrs. Biddle tells him to let them go and assures him that he'll see everyone soon enough (It Won't be Long 'til Christmas). Just then the Marines enter the house and inform Mr. Biddle that he's been awarded a provisional captaincy in the Marines, and he is to report to Parris island. Mr. Biddle is ecstatic and immediately gets to work refining marine policies. Mr. Biddle's Bible students then arrive to congratulate him.
I'll Always be Irish (With John Lawless and Cordy Biddle)
I Believe in This Country
What's Wrong with That? (Reprise)
It Won't be Long 'til Christmas (With Mrs.Cordelia Biddle)
- He is based off the real Anthony Biddle who lived from 1874 to 1948
- He had typhoid fever as a child. When he overcame it, he learned to live life to the fullest.
- Fred MacMurray is known to play fathers who has bonding relationships with their sons, (The Shaggy Dog,.TV's My Three Sons) but in this movie, his strongest relationship is with his daughter, Cordy.