Cast & Crew
When Tom Winston, a government lawyer who, for several years, has been separated from his wife, takes charge of his three children--Elizabeth, David and Robert--following their mother's death, he is taken aback by their hostility toward him. His sister-in-law, the attractive but unhappily married Carolyn Gibson, explains that the loss of their mother has left the children with problems: None of them sleeps well, all three are melancholy and little Robert, who claims to hate everyone, does nothing but play the harmonica. After first agreeing to let Carolyn and her parents adopt the children, Tom suddenly decides to take them to nearby Washington, D.C., where he rents a small flat. The children are unimpressed with their new home, and following an evening concert at the Watergate, Robert hides in a rowboat on the adjacent Potomac River. Also attending the concert is the beautiful but restless Cinzia Zaccardi, who is accompanying her father, a famous Italian conductor, on a tour of the United States. Cinzia longs for freedom and male companionship, but her father keeps a tight rein on her, and she escapes a stuffy society dinner only by climbing out a window and into Robert's rowboat. Cinzia dances with the child at a street carnival and later that evening takes him home. Tom threatens to spank the boy until Cinzia gently advises him to be "a parent, not a policeman." Seeing that all three children are taken with Cinzia, Tom, who believes that she is an abandoned "G.I. bride or something," offers her a job as their maid. Amused, Cinzia declines the job and returns to her father, but when he angrily vows never to let her out of his sight again, she decides to accept the job and move with Tom and the children to Carolyn's guest house in nearby Virginia. When the guest house is accidentally demolished, an Italian-American storekeeper named Angelo Donatello offers to sell Tom his rickety houseboat. During the family's stormy first night on the boat, Cinzia sends a frightened Elizabeth to sleep with her father, who slowly begins to treat the child with warmth and affection. Carolyn reveals that she is divorcing her philandering husband and admits that she has always loved Tom. Meanwhile, Angelo invites Cinzia to the Fourth of July dance sponsored by the Sons of Italy. Cinzia and the children work hard to fix up the houseboat, and soon it is homey and charming. David, unhappy about his father's constant criticism, however, decides to run away one windy night. When David's rowboat capsizes, Tom leaps into the river and saves him. Cinzia tries to persuade Tom to be more accepting of David, and as the two talk, they find themselves nearly kissing. The next morning, Tom and David discuss death, and David teaches his father how to fish. Tom begins to date Carolyn, which so upsets Cinzia that she decides to leave. Tom buys her a dress and remarks that she has pulled his family together again. Just then, Carolyn and her friends arrive, and after one of them insults Cinzia, Tom orders them from the houseboat. He then takes Cinzia to the country club dance, and as they kiss at the end of the evening, he realizes he is in love with her. To Cinzia's surprise, the children, especially the jealous David, disapprove of their romance, and after explaining that she could never take their mother's place, she brokenheartedly returns to her father. Tom tracks her down and declares his love in the presence of Maestro Zaccardi, who, although approving of the union, warns Tom never to hurt his beloved daughter. The children, however, do not come to terms with their father's remarriage until the wedding ceremony begins. After playing "The Wedding March" on his harmonica in the middle of the couple's vows, Robert smilingly approaches Cinzia, and the ceremony continues as the children join hands with the couple.
William R. Remich
John P. Fulton
Hal C. Kern
Michael D. Moore
Best Writing, Screenplay
By the time the movie was made, however, Grant had become hopelessly infatuated with Sophia Loren, his costar in 1957's The Pride and the Passion, and arranged for her to replace Drake in Houseboat. Adding insults to injury, Drake's screenplay was almost completely reworked by two other screenwriters, Jack Rose and Melville Shavelson (who also directed), and she received no writing credit. And the revised script was Oscar®-nominated for Best Original Story and Screenplay!
Houseboat, produced by Paramount, is a light comedy about a wealthy widower (Grant) who packs his three unruly children off to a ramshackle houseboat and hires an Italian woman (Loren) as a housekeeper. Although he thinks she's a poor immigrant girl, in reality she's the spoiled daughter of a famous orchestra conductor (Eduardo Ciannelli) and is rebelling against him. As sitcom-styled complications pile on, the pair fall in love and even the kids shape up in response to Loren's fiery yet lovable personality.
During location filming of The Pride and the Passion in Spain, despite an almost 30-year difference in their ages, a love-struck Grant had wooed Loren with gifts and candlelit dinners. But she reportedly remained lukewarm to his romantic overtures because of her emotional commitment to her mentor, producer Carlo Ponti (also her senior, by some 22 years).
When filming began on Houseboat, Loren frustrated Grant by remaining aloof and having Ponti accompany her to the set every day. According to biographer Marc Eliot, Grant vented his anger on Shavelson, "who had to listen to him carp over the smallest of details." Grant learned during the shoot -- through a Louella Parsons column, no less -- that Ponti had obtained a quickie Mexican divorce from his wife and married Loren. The next time he saw the couple on the set, Grant congratulated them, kissing Loren on the cheek and shaking Ponti's hand.
The following day, the two stars filmed the climactic wedding sequence, with Ponti watching every move as the debonair Grant "married" a radiant Loren. She would recall, "I was aware how painful it was for him to play this scene with me... to take me in his arms and kiss me." Grant was said to have drowned his sorrow in drink that night in his favorite booth at Chasen's. But his producer friend Bill Frye said later that Grant's "love affair" had never been real to begin with: "It was all just some sort of extended daydream that he made up. Sophia Loren was never his to lose. It was just another one of his crazy romantic fantasies that could have had no other ending."
But the damage to Grant's marriage had been done. By October of 1958, he and Drake had announced their separation, although they were not divorced until 1962. (Loren and Ponti had their Mexican marriage annulled in 1957 to save him from charges of bigamy in Italy, but remarried in 1966 and remained wed until his death in 2007.)
Ironically, Houseboat was a huge success. Despite his unhappiness during filming, Grant was his usual irrepressible self onscreen, his charm and comic verve intact. Loren's sprightly performance was her most accessible yet to American audiences, and the romantic chemistry between the costars remains palpable. The film also was nominated for an Oscar® for Best Original Song, "Almost in Your Arms," by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.
Producer: Jack Rose
Director: Melville Shavelson
Screenplay: Melville Shavelson, Jack Rose
Cinematography: Ray June
Film Editing: Frank Bracht
Original Music: George Duning, Jay Livingston and Ray Evans (song)
Art Direction: Hal Pereira, John B. Goodman
Costume Design: Edith Head
Cast: Cary Grant (Tom Winters), Sophia Loren (Cinzia Zaccardi), Harry Guardino (Angelo Donatello), Eduardo Ciannelli (Arturo Zaccardi), Murray Hamilton (Capt. Alan Wilson), Mimi Gibson (Elizabeth Winters), Paul Petersen (David Winters), Werner Klemperer (Harold Messner).
C-110m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Roger Fristoe
That's you Sir.- Justice of the Peace
Who Sir? Me Sir?- Tom
Yes Sir, you Sir.- Justice of the Peace
Although contemporary news items note that the script was based on an unpublished story by B. Winkle (a pseudonym of Cary Grant's then-wife, actress Betsy Drake), onscreen credits and the SAB list Melville Shavelson and Jack Rose as the sole writers. In September 1956, an Los Angeles Times story reported that Rose and Shavelson had engaged Anna Perrott Rose to write the screenplay, but her contribution to the completed film has not been confirmed.
The same Los Angeles Times news story asserted that the movie would be filmed on Lake Union in Seattle, WA. Other news items announced that the story was to be set in the Midwest. According to Hollywood Reporter production charts, portions of the film were shot on location in Washington, D.C. Other portions of the film were shot on location in Virginia and California. According to a September 5, 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item, the two-deck houseboat set constructed at the studio was the largest set then in use at Paramount. Rose and Shavelson's screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award, as was the song "Almost in Your Arms."
Released in United States Fall September 1958
Released in United States Fall September 1958