Father Goose (1964): Cary Grant’s Penultimate Film, Oscar-Winning Comedy, Co-Starring Leslie Caron

One of Cary Grant’s very last pictures (he retired in 1966 at the age of 62) is also one of his most commercially popular.

Grade: B (*** out of *****)

Father Goose
Father Goose film poster.jpg


Produced by Universal, Father Goose ranked as the 11th top-grossing film in 1964, generating over $6 million in domestic rentals (see below).

Narrative Premise:

The Royal Australian Navy evacuates Salamaua in February 1942, ahead of a Japanese invasion. Commander Frank Houghton (Trevor Howard) coerces an old friend, American beachcomber Walter Eckland (Cary Grant), into becoming a coast watcher for the Allies.

To ensure Eckland stays put, Houghton sees to it that his own ship “accidentally” knocks a hole in Eckland’s launch while departing, so that his only boat is a utility dinghy. To motivate Eckland, Houghton has his crew hide Eckland’s whisky, rewarding each confirmed aircraft sighting with directions to one of the bottles.


Please Read: Cary Grant–Ultimate Hollywood Star

Like other WWII romantic melodramas set in an isolated place (“Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison”) Ralph Nelson’s “Father Goose” is set on a South Sea island, centering on a crotchety middle-aged recluse whose place is invaded by a group of French school children, headed by teacher Leslie Caron, while being evacuated from New Guinea.

As a romantic interest, the charming Leslie Caron may be too young for Grant, but that was the norm in 1950s Hollywood films–Clark Gable and Gary Cooper also were paired with women half their age.

The film’s third major role is played by Brit Trevor Howard, as an Australian officer who puts pressure on the reclusive, non-committal and apolitical Grant to enlist into service as a plane spotter.

Oscar Nominations: 3

Story and Screenplay (Original): S. H. Barnett; Peter Stone and Frank Tarloff

Film Editing: Ted J. Kent

Sound: Waldon O. Watson

Oscar Awards: 1

Story and Screenplay

Oscar Context:

“My Fair Lady” was not the most nominated film of the year; that honor was claimed by the rival musical, “Mary Poppins,” which received 13 nods and won 5, including Best Actress to Julie Andrews.  George Cukor, who won the Best Director Oscar at his fifth nomination, directed an opulent production in a grand manner with fabulous costumes designed by Cecil Beaton.  The other three Best Picture nominees were: “Beckett,” “Dr. Strangelove,” and “Zorba the Greek.”

Writer Stone is better known for another Cary Grant vehicle, the elegant thriller “Charade,” opposite Audrey Hepburn.

The Sound Oscar went to “My Fair Lady” and the Editing to William Ziegler for “Mary Poppins.”


Release date: December 10, 1964
Running time: 118 minutes
Box office: $12.5 million

Reel/Real Impact:

The movie introduced the song “Pass Me By,” by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, later recorded by Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra and others.