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Father Goose

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Father Goose, starring Cary Grant, Leslie Caron
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Father Goose (1964) starring Cary Grant, Leslie Caron

Father Goose is a strange, funny, war-of-the-sexes story that turns into a love story. It’s set during World War II, with Cary Grant and Leslie Caron.

Synopsis of Father Goose

In Father GooseCary Grant stars in one of his funniest roles as a boozy beachcomber sitting out WWII in peace.  Until the Allies “recruit” him to be a lookout on the South Pacific isle. During an enemy attack, he answers a distress call and discovers a beautiful French schoolmarm (Leslie Caron) and her seven girl students. And so begins a hilarious battle of the sexes between a messy American, a prim Mademoiselle, and seven mischievous little girls. Who will win is anybody’s guess …

[catching a fish barehanded. A fish swims toward them]
Walter Eckland: [In a hushed voice] Hey, here she comes again.
Catherine Freneau: How do you know it’s a “she”?
Walter Eckland: Her mouth is open, now be quiet.


Clearly, a battle-of-the-sexes story. A sweet, funny, enjoyable story.


  • Cary Grant (Bringing Up Baby) … Walter. The extremely unwilling Navy spotter during World War II. Despite his bad attitude, he’s adjusted to his position …. Until a replacement can be found. That is, until Catherine and her young students all show up!
  • Leslie Caron (Lili) … Catherine. The French teacher. Her father works for the French government, and she’s been working as a teacher for the young ladies. To say that she and Walter are initially in conflict with each other is a gross understatement.
  • Trevor Howard (The Third Man) … Houghton. Walter’s “friend”, who coerces / forces Walter to be a spotter for the Navy. He doesn’t like forcing Walter, but desperate times …
  • Jack GoodStebbings. Houghton’s right-hand man.

The little girls

  • Sharyl Locke (I Saw What You Did Last Summer) … Jenny
  • Pip Sparkes … Anne
  • Verina Greenlaw … Christine
  • Stephanie Berrington … Elizabeth
  • Jennifer Berrington … Harriet
  • Laurelle Felsette … Angelique
  • Nicole Felsette … Dominique

Lieutenant Stebbings RAN: Mother Goose is requesting a chaplain.
Commander Frank Houghton RAN: A chaplain? Good heavens, he’s killed her.
Lieutenant Stebbings RAN: No, sir. They want to get married.
Commander Frank Houghton RAN: Married? Goody Two-Shoes and the Filthy Beast?

Editorial review of Father Goose courtesy of

Cary Grant’s penultimate feature before retirement was this cheerful 1964 effort to overturn his career-long image of urbane sophistication. As the unshaven, messy misanthrope Walter Eckland, a World War II-era beach bum who monitors Japanese air activity for the Australian navy in exchange for booze, Grant makes a convincingly hard-bitten, hard-drinking antihero. Until, that is, a pretty French schoolmistress (Leslie Caron) and her seven little charges (all girls) survive a nearby plane crash and invade Eckland’s raunchy isolation.

Directed by 1960s hit-maker Ralph Nelson (The Lilies of the FieldCharly), Father Goose is a glossy comedy that also does justice to its more suspenseful scenes (a deadly snakebite suffered by Caron’s character is especially memorable) and leaves plenty of room for Grant to indulge in some entertaining if atypical screen behavior. All in all, this is a minor treat in the actor’s magnificent filmography. –Tom Keogh

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