During World War II South Sea beachcomber Walter Eckland is persuaded to spy on planes passing over his island. He gets more than he bargained for as schoolteacher Catherine Frenau arrives on the run from the Japanese with her pupils in tow!
Cary Grant ... Walter Christopher Eckland
Leslie Caron ... Catherine Freneau
Trevor Howard ... Commander Frank Houghton
Jack Good ... Lieutenant Stebbings
Sharyl Locke ... Jenny
Pip Sparke ... Anne
Verina Greenlaw ... Christine
Stephanie Berrington ... Elizabeth Anderson
Jennifer Berrington ... Harriet MacGregor
Laurelle Felsette ... Angelique
Nicole Felsette ... Dominique
I find it quite surprising seeing that Cary Grant is one of my favourite actors, that after nearly forty reviews on this site not one of them has been a Cary Grant film. How odd.
I now intend to remedy that fact by posting a few as I do believe he was one of the most versatile performers and gifted comedy actors ever to hit our screens.
My favourite Cary Grant comedy is 1937's The Awful Truth and it is an amazing tribute to his talent that in Father Goose made 27 years later, he seems to have aged very little and has not lost one iota of the spark or zest that graced his performances throughout the decades.
In his penultimate screen appearance, Grant for once plays a character far removed from his immaculately dressed man about town persona as he takes on the role of Walter Eckland a south sea drifter complete with dirty slacks, tennis shoes and beard. Life for Eckland is lived on his beloved boat, drinking scotch and sailing from island to island meeting and fraternising with as fewer people as possible.
However Eckland's idealistic lifestyle (and the hull of his boat) are severely destroyed with the arrival of Captain Trevor Howard of the Royal Navy. Bullied, brow-beaten, bribed with Scotch Whiskey and with a large gaping hole in his boat, he is forced onto a deserted pacific island to act as coast watcher for the Allies, reporting Japanese ship and aeroplane activities with the R/T codename of Mother Goose.
Eckland's immediate plans are to repair his boat and escape his captivity, and jumps at the chance to go and rescue a possible replacement from a nearby island. Using his boat's dinghy he braves rough seas and Japanese patrol vessels in order to obtain his freedom.
However, when he arrives at the island he finds the replacement dead and a prim and proper governess, played by Leslie Caron, in his stead. It is only after he agrees to take her off the island to safety that life goes from bad to worse as it appears she is not travelling alone, but with seven schoolgirls.
The interplay between Grant,Caron and the kids is hilarious, as the contrast of lifestyles between Walter and his reluctant family is immediately apparent and almost at once they become warring factions.
She wastes no time in confiscating and hiding his liquor, evicting him from his house, and commandeering his clothes, his tools, his food and just about everything else she can get her hands on.
Walter is more or less banished to his half submerged boat. A stranger in his own 'home'.
None the less after near discovery by the Japanese, Eckland acts heroically endearing him at last to the female inhabitants, until eventually the 'rude, drunken, foul mouthed, filthy beast' and 'Miss Goodie-two-shoes' actually become rather 'pally'.
The whole cast is excellent, most notably Trevor Howard, who really relishes this rare chance to take on a comedic role, but what makes this film sensational is the clever writing.
For example when the Navy is given the task of evacuating the newcomers, the answer is a parachute drop:- "A parachute drop? I want them picked up Frank, not put down". Or when Grant is teaching Caron how to fish:- "Quiet, here she comes again"..... "How do you know it is a she?" asks Caron..... "Her mouth is open, now be quiet."
Very witty examples and this film is chock-a-block full of them. Check out the snake-bite scene. It is quite amazing.
I know this film has come under some heavy criticism over the years, but I fail to see why. It is Cary Grant in one of his finest and funniest films. I suppose the bad reviews this film received was one of the reasons he retired shortly afterwards. It was classic Grant and one of his personal favourite performances, but it failed to find a large or appreciative audience, and I suppose out of all his films the failure of this one saddened him the most.
This second to last film of Cary Grant was one he spoke highly of in interviews.
It was my decided pleasure to be in attendance at his "A Conversation With Cary Grant" at the Front Row Theater in Cleveland shortly before his death. During this unforgettable evening, Grant fielded questions from an audience of over five hundred for nearly two hours.
Grant seemed to possess a photographic memory, recalling incidents of his life and career down to the smallest detail. "Father Goose" was revealed to be one of his favorite projects.
Looking at the film today, one can see the senior star enjoying his character and well polished script. He was nicely paired with Leslie Caron, and the two struck an engaging chemistry for these capers.
Grant also had the good sense to say farewell to these leading man parts (being aware that he could never become a "character" actor) threw in the towel and moved on to better things, like Fabrege.
We're left with another delightful Grant performance in an illustrious and remarkably diversified career.
I wouldn't dare say this was an extremely great movie, but it was pretty good, I enjoyed it. I think this is the first Cary Grant movie I've ever seen and I thought he did a fine job with his role. Some of his reactions are just hilarious!
There are quite a few times though where you really feel for Cary Grant's character, because he gets completely over-run by the women that he is forced to provide for. In the end though, everyone seems to get along.
All I can really say about the film is that it's a pretty interesting story with some interesting turn of events and some good comedy. I wouldn't recommend the film to everyone, but if you're interested, go ahead and take a peak. I hope you enjoy the film.
* In later years, Cary Grant always claimed his role in this film was most like his real personality. He claimed he kept in touch with most of the girls as they grew up and had families of their own.
* Cary Grant was offered the role of Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady (1964) but turned it down to star in this movie. He wanted Audrey Hepburn to play Catherine, but she was already committed to My Fair Lady (1964).
* Walter's boat, which he bought from one Mr. Van De Hoven, is named "Vrolijkheid", which is Dutch for "Cheerfulness".
* The film features the same piece of stock footage of a submarine firing a torpedo that was used in Cary Grant's previous World War II comedy Operation Petticoat (1959).