Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Father Goose

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing of something in my movie collection.  Doing a true classic now.  From 1964, it's Father Goose.  This shows up in my notes at May 25, 2014.

If you've been reading this for a while, you know I don't partake in the classics that often.  If I do, then it's probably a movie I grew up with.  Such as this case, Father Goose

I remember this as being one of my mother's favourite movies.  Back in the mid-1980s, when I was  young and VCRs were new and exciting technology, Mom taped it off TV one afternoon and I wound up watching it quite a bit.  It was about a year ago when, perusing the new home media releases, I noticed it was getting released on Blu-Ray.  A few weeks ago, I finally spotted it on the shelves in HMV and said, "Why not?" 

Now that I'm blessed with the Internet, it's fun reading up on its history.  Released in 1964, it's become a footnote in film history as being screen legend Cary Grant's second-last film before retirement.  Won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.  It was the seventh highest-grossing film of 1964.  And critics at the time dismissed it as a bland and formulaic romantic comedy.  

Watching it again this afternoon, now that I'm a grown-up, I was wondering if I'd pick up on more jokes that I didn't get when I was a kid, but no.  Most of the stuff I remembered was still there, and I'd daresay it's pretty family friendly.  It's nothing groundbreaking, but it is pretty cute.

It's the early 1940s, and World War II is raging.  Grant plays Walter Eckland, a beach bum living in the South Pacific, idly drifting from island to island, doing whatever he has to to scrape by.  One day, he bumps into a buddy of his who's a commander in the Australian Navy, and his buddy cons him into becoming a coast-watcher:  he hangs out on a deserted island, and reports any enemy aircraft or ships that might pass by.  And to make sure he doesn't shirk his duty, this commander has the Navy cripple Walter's boat, stranding him on the island.

Eventually, though, the Navy tells Walter that he can go pick up his relief if he makes a dangerous ocean crossing in his dinghy.  When Walter arrives at the nieghbouring island, he doesn't find his relief.  Instead, he finds a stranded French diplomat named Catherine Freneau, and seven school children - the kids of diplomats - who've been left in her charge.  Walter rescues them and takes them back to his island, where they get the news from the Navy that they're completely surrounded by the enemy and it might be a month before the Navy can mount a rescue.

And I'm sure you can figure out the formula from here.  He's a boorish slob who only cares for himself.  She's a prim and proper high society lady.  But now that fate has forced them together, he teaches her how to loosen up, she teaches him how to straighten up, and they bicker their way into each other's hearts. 

As I said, it's cute.  Nothing more.  It would have been nice if they fleshed out the schoolchildren a little more.  There are two French girls who only speak French, one doesn't speak because she's been frightened by the ordeal, one's a tomboy who always wields a cricket bat, one constantly complains about wanting to go home, the oldest starts developing a crush on Walter...they're not so much characters, as they are differentiating traits applied to girls. 

There are some great comedy bits.  Walter is a heavy drinker, so in order to keep him on the island, the Navy hid booze all over the island.  But then, in order to go get the girls, he gets the Navy to tell him where it's all hidden.  And then, in order to keep Walter in check, Catherine re-hides it, with the help of the children.  Alcoholism as comedic fodder.  It was the a different time, the 1960s. 

But I'm out of things to say.  It's cute, it's fun, it's frothy.

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