FatherGoosecoverGrade: A-
Entire family: Yes
1964, 118 min., Color
Not rated (would be PG for some peril and adult drinking)
Olive Films
Aspect ratio: anamorphic widescreen (16×9)
Featured audio: DTS-HD MA Mono
Bonus features: None
Clip

Father Goose is one of those rare films that appeal not only to lovers of the genre—in this case, romantic comedy—but others as well. There’s humor and WWII adventure in this amiable 1964 film, which will appeal to boys in the family. The girls, meanwhile, will be won over by the seven schoolgirls of varying ages that are rescued by a reluctant (and still very funny and attractive in his second-to-last film) Cary Grant.

Grant plays teacher-turned-beachcomber Walter Eckland, who dropped out of the world and in return just wants the world to leave him alone. Though war in the Pacific is raging all around him, he’s determined to be neutral and uninvolved. We first meet him when he turns up at British-Australian naval base that’s under fire, and, bothered more by a pelican that keeps hitching a ride on the boat he recently bought than by shells exploding nearby, he proceeds to try to “borrow” cans of gasoline and rations.

FatherGoosescreenThat plays right into the hands of the dockmaster, an old friend named Houghton (Trevor Howard) who’s been ordered to evacuate and set up shop coordinating more than 30 coast watchers spread across the Pacific islands. He needs one more coast watcher and Walter needs supplies, so they strike a deal . . . which Walter had no intention of abiding by, until Houghton “accidentally” rams his boat and forces him to make for the island. Then, to get Walter to actually report Japanese airplane and ship movements, Houghton hides bottles of scotch whiskey and gives Walter the directions to a bottle for every confirmed sighting.

Walter never gets drunk, and his drinking is played for laughs, so most parents won’t find it objectionable. After all, there is a war on, and when Walter ends up rescuing a pretty young teacher (Leslie Caron) and her charges, she immediately sets about trying to reform him. He may be gruff, but he’s still a likable fellow that the girls find as appealing as their teacher does.

Sparks eventually fly, and the action intensifies, and in no time at all you’re rooting for this pair of opposites to come together in spite of all that’s happening in the world around them.

It’s one of the better Cary Grant films to introduce children to, and a darned good “starter” romantic comedy because of all the other distractions. Don’t expect a laugh-out-loud comedy—just a lot of smiles, and a little tension, too, as the world threatens to tear this couple apart before they can even come together. It’s a fun, light adventure that’s perfect for family movie night.

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