“FATHER GOOSE”—Meet Walter Eckland

“FATHER GOOSE”

Meet Walter Eckland

Amos Lassen

American beachcomber Walter Eckland (Cary Grant) is an unkempt, unshaven and uncouth beach bum who loves his booze. He has been coerced into serving as a coast-watcher on a remote South Pacific island during the outbreak of World War II by his Aussie friend Navy Commander Frank Houghton (Trevor Howard). “Mother Goose” is Eckland’s code name and Houghton’s is “Big Bad Wolf.” For every enemy plane movement spotted, Mother Goose gets a bottle of whiskey. Ordered to rescue a fellow spotter on another nearby island, Walter finds French teacher, Catherine Freneau (Leslie Caron), and her seven schoolgirls, who are on the island because their American plane set them there to go on a rescue mission of a plane crash. Walter takes them all back to his paradise island, and Catherine tries to reform Walter of his drinking and coarse language. 

“Father Goose” was Cary Grant’s penultimate movie and he was still able to deliver the charm and comedy that he has been known for. 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. In fact, I would say that Grant is the reason 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 become a gag movie.

Leslie Caron acts with a sense of polite bossiness which she gives Catherine and compared to Walter is truly beautiful. 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 “Father Goose” is a new addition to the Olive Signature Series and it is released as a Blu ray disc.

OLIVE SIGNATURE FEATURES 

  • New Restoration from 4K Scan of Original Camera Negative
  • Audio commentary by film historian David Del Valle
  • “Unfinished Business: Cary Grant’s Search for Fatherhood and His Oscar” – with Marc Eliot, author of Cary Grant: A Biography
  • “My Father” – internet pioneer Ted Nelson discusses director Ralph Nelson
  • Universal Newsreel footage featuring Leslie Caron
  • Essay by Village Voice critic Bilge Ebiri

 

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