By Kathryn McGarr,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Cary Grant charms in this WWII comedy.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Violence & Scariness
Main characters slap each other. Japanese airplanes attack, the children are in danger, and there's a fire. Ms. Freneau is thought to be dead at one point.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Much of the plot and certainly the humor centers on Mr. Eckland's quest for whiskey and Ms. Freneau's persistence in hiding it from him. There is one scene in which she gets drunk (taking alcohol medicinally after getting a snake bite) and is later hung over.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the main character is on a constant search for the whiskey that his commanding officer and his prim island-mate hide from him. He's clearly not posited as a role model, though, and he reforms his ways. Even though this is foremost a comedy, it's set during World War II. The Japanese are the enemy, there's an air attack at the end, and at one point, the youngest little girl is in danger. Compared to war scenes in contemporary films, those in Father Goose are hardly worrisome.
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What's the Story?
At the height of World War II, Walter Eckland (Cary Grant), a free spirited and dissolute alcoholic, must be a look-out for Japanese war crafts on a deserted island on behalf of the Royal Navy. When he goes on a rescue mission to save a man on a nearby island, he finds himself responsible for the safety of uptight chaperone Catherine Freneau (Leslie Caron) and the seven schoolgirls in her care. They had been dropped on the island during an emergency evacuation from her father's consulate in Rabat. Because it's too dangerous to arrange to airlift them off the island, they're stuck living with alcoholic slob Eckland for a month, maybe more. The battle of the sexes is mostly what the movie's about as Freneau tries to make a proper home for the girls and Eckland refuses to cooperate.
Is It Any Good?
Grant is 60 years old, playing a drunk clad in khakis instead of his trademark tuxedo; he is, however, as charming a leading man as ever in this family comedy. It's easily one of his funniest pictures. With the added attraction of featuring seven children and being in Technicolor, it's certain to please viewers of all ages.
The children's individual personalities are entertaining, too. Tomboy Harriet prefers to be called Harry, loves to play cricket, and thinks everything is "smashing." The oldest, Elizabeth, gets a crush on Mr. Eckland, while the youngest, Jenny, refuses to open her mouth unless it's to bite him.There's a lot more family comedy than war in this movie, as its title suggests. Humorous situations mix with witty banter and a bit of slapstick to make this a classic.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what it's like for the children to be away from their parents in a time of war. At first, Anne complains that she wants to go home, but by the end, she wants to stay -- why does she change her mind? What makes Jenny start talking again? Is Harriet accepted as a tomboy? What are the ways Ms. Freneau tries to create a "normal" environment on the island? Do you think it's good that she hides Mr. Eckland's whiskey even though it's his island? What does Mr. Eckland see as his responsibilities at the beginning of the film? How about by the end?
- In theaters: December 10, 1964
- On DVD or streaming: September 18, 2001
- Cast: Cary Grant, Leslie Caron, Trevor Howard
- Director: Ralph Nelson
- Studio: Artisan Entertainment
- Genre: Classic
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 31, 2022
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