Cary Grant in Father Goose (1964)

Hen Pecked Grant's Goose is Cooked

With WWII going on around him, loner and curmudgeon Walter Eckland (Cary Grant - Charade) is forced into becoming a Japanese plane spotter amongst the South Pacific islands in return for supplies and more importantly alcohol. Having begrudgingly agreed to take on the mission he then finds his solitary life completely turned upside down by the arrival of a French school teacher, Catherine Freneau (Leslie Caron - An American in Paris), and her class of girls to his island after they became stranded.

"Father Goose" was Cary Grant's penultimate movie having decided to retire from the business, yet over 30 years after he started Grant was still delivering the charm and comedy which had been his trademark through his entire career. Yet ironically "Father Goose" isn't a movie which asks for Grant to be charming, it asks for him to be a curmudgeon who becomes frustrated by not only being forced to help the war effort but losing his island to a woman and her class of girls who force him out of his home and hide his booze. But you can't take the charm out of Cary Grant and even when he is playing a curmudgeon he is a charming one.

Leslie Caron in Father Goose (1964)

Grant is in fact a huge part of why "Father Goose" despite now being over 50 years old is still a lot of fun. But it is also the combination of the writing and direction with Ralph Nelson keeping the movie ticking over with one joke following another but with just enough breathing room so that it doesn't descend in to being a gag movie. The thing is that as I sit here the amazing thing is that the jokes get old, a scene where Catherine thinks she has been bitten by a poisonous water snake is still as much fun as ever whilst Walter being a misery looking for the whisky which has been hidden never gets old.

There is of course something else which makes "Father Goose" a lot of fun and that is Cary Grant's co-stars with Leslie Caron. The air of polite bossiness which she gives Catherine is beautiful when paired up with the grumpy Walter and whilst I wouldn't say there is great romantic chemistry between the two stars the comic timing between them works. In fact the comic timing works just as well with the younger actresses who play the school girls who initially get on Walter's nerves.

What this all boils down to is that "Father Goose" is still as much fun now as it was when I first came across it back in the 70s or 80s. Yes there are better Cary Grant movies but with Grant managing to make a curmudgeon charming it is impossible not to enjoy the comedy on show in "Father Goose".