Classic Film Review: Caron and kids treat Cary Grant as “Father Goose”


Cary Grant was 60 years old, grey and most comfortably cast in grumpy curmudgeon roles by the time the 1964 comedy “Father Goose” was tailor-made for him.

But watch him nimbly scamper down beaches, over branches and around coconuts, through whatever set this undemanding but adorable kid-friendly comedy parks him on. The dude was still fit, still leading man material.

Focus on his every facial expression — not just in close-ups, reacting to whatever outrage spoiled schoolgirls and their “teacher” (Leslie Caron) — perpetrate upon this dipsomaniacal loner, marooned with them on a deserted isle in 1942.

Check out amped-up outrage acting opposite a radio-contact-only, deliciously droll Trevor Howard as the Royal Navy officer who drafted/hoodwinked Grant’s cruising vagabond Walter into becoming a coast watcher for the Allies.

Grant shared scenes with children, and by God he didn’t let them steal’em, the little imps. Every line-reading — and we’re not talking Shakespeare here — is Cary Grant perfect.

“Let me tell you…I am not a father figure. I am not a brother figure or an uncle figure or a cousin figure. In fact, the only figure I intend being is a total stranger figure.”

I hadn’t seen this thing since childhood, catching it on “NBC’s Saturday Night at the Movies,” probably, with my parents.

Clocking in at two hours, it asks a lot of indulgence from the viewer — even taking into account the WWII “action comedy” genre this sits within. Still, the laughs are here — sight gags, Grant double-takes, kiddie hijinks.

It’s nobody’s idea of a masterpiece, but it’s Classic Cary. And if I want to add a piece of the puzzle to my lifelong love of boats — living on them, sailing them, stocking them with gin and rum and tonic and books — this movie was part of the sales pitch.

I dare say Walter Eckland’s previous boat had sails.


MPAA Rating: “Approved,” the G-rating of its day

Cast: Cary Grant, Leslie Caron, Trevor Howard

Credits: Directed by Ralph Nelson, script by Peter Stone and Frank Tarloff A Universal release.

Running time: 1:58

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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