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Father Goose

Father Goose(1964)

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teaser Father Goose (1964)

Suave, dapper Cary Grant, who had wanted for some time to play against type, had considered taking on the role of the aging poker player in The Cincinnati Kid (1965) that was eventually played by Edward G. Robinson. Instead Grant settled on Universal's Father Goose (1964) for his change of image, playing what screenwriter Peter Stone described as "a drunk, disgusting, irascible, misanthropic character." Grant himself elaborated: "I was a bum. I was all broken down, in jeans and a beard. It was me. After dressing so carefully for my films for so many years, I wanted to do the opposite."

The film is set during World War II on a remote South Sea Island, where Grant's character is coerced into becoming a lookout for the Australian Navy and taking on a pretty teacher (Leslie Caron) and her seven young female charges. Stone, who rewrote a script by Frank Tarloff (from a story by S. H. Barnett called A Place of Dragons), did not meet his fellow writer until the 1965 Academy Awards, when the team won Oscars for Best Original Screenplay. In his acceptance speech Stone said, "I want to thank Cary Grant, who keeps winning these things for other people." The movie also was nominated for Best Sound and Film Editing. Although ignored by Oscar, the film's theme song, "Pass Me By," with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, became a hit for Peggy Lee. Coleman has said that he based the song's tempo on Grant's jaunty walk.

Grant originally wanted Audrey Hepburn, his costar from Charade (1963), to play the comely schoolteacher. Caron, happy to be second choice, said of her costar: "Cary kept you on your toes. He electrified the set; You had to be as bright and brilliant as possible." Trevor Howard, playing a naval commander in the film, also was inspired by the star, even though the plot required that most of their communication be through radio. "Grant was always there on the set," Howard recalled. "If a line of comedy didn't work he'd immediately call up his writers to polish it up, and, consequently, I think I played some of my best comedy scenes in Father Goose."

Father Goose opened at New York City's Radio City Music Hall, where it broke a box office record established by Grant's Charade.

Producer: Robert Arthur
Director: Ralph Nelson
Screenplay: Peter Stone, Frank Tarloff, from story by S.H. Barnett
Art Direction: Henry Bumstead, Alexander Golitzen
Cinematography: Charles B. Lang
Costume Design: Ray Aghayan
Editing: Ted Kent
Original Music: Cy Coleman
Principal Cast: Cary Grand (Walter Eckland), Leslie Caron (Catherine Freneau), Trevor Howard (Commander Frank Houghton), Jack Good (Lieutenant Stebbins), Sharyl Locke (Jenny), Dickie Moore (Joseph Meister).
C-117m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Roger Fristoe

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