Father Goose is a comedy/romance from 1964 starring Cary Grant and Leslie Caron. Cary Grant was 60 years old, and Leslie Caron 33 years old when the film was made, and somehow, despite their age difference, they make a good match for a romantic comedy.
Walter Eckland (Cary Grant) is an American with a drinking problem who has fled to the South Pacific in order to escape his conventional life only to find himself in the middle of World War II. Commander Frank Houghton (Trevor Howard), of the British Royal Navy, tricks Walter into taking up residence on an isolated island where he is to watch for enemy aircraft and report their movements. Walter was assigned the moniker of Mother Goose as a code name to be used when speaking over the radio to the Commander and his staff, thus the title of the film.
Walter is sent to rescue another spotter in danger, and when he arrives at the other island discovers Catherine Freneau (Leslie Caron) and the seven female students she is responsible for. Walter reluctantly transports them back to his island, and all sorts of adventures are just waiting to happen. The dialogue between Walter and Catherine is witty, the interactions between Walter and the Commander and his staff are very funny, and the girls each have their own unique way of dealing with Walter, who is changed by them. This film is definitely all about Cary Grant. He is front and center of just about every scene.
Movies from the 1960’s and earlier have some strange things going on in them. Walter and Catherine slap each other in the face several times, and this seems to be some kind of foreplay for them. That part is interesting because we get to see what was acceptable back then that wouldn’t be tolerated today. Aside from the bizarre slapping episode, there really is nothing objectionable in the film, and it is quite entertaining.
I read that Cary Grant said that he was more like the character of Walter Eckland than for example, some of his more suave, privileged characters. I have always enjoyed his performances in Alfred Hitchcock films especially. Hitchcock, who didn’t really hold actors in very high esteem, reportedly said that Cary Grant was the only actor he loved working with.
Father Goose won Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards for story by S. H. Barnett, and screenplay by Peter Stone and Frank Tarloff. This may be a good time to talk about writing credit conventions. You will notice that there is story and screenplay mentioned when referencing the award here. Story refers to actual writing, not just an idea. It can take the form of a story or treatment, or sometimes a complete script. Screenplay in this case would then refer to a subsequent writer doing a rewrite of the original material.
This is a classic film watched over and over again for its unique storyline and comedy. I highly recommend it to you.