Father Goose (Blu-ray Review)

Olive Films is proud to present this unusual Cary Grant film. Set in 1941 as the Japanese advance and the Australians withdraw from the South Pacific islands. Cary Grant plays Walter Eckland, an American ex-professor who fled to the islands before the war to escape civilization. He is not well mannered in the least and would much rather have a crate of whiskey than anything else. Eckland is persuaded to volunteer, although that term seems to be used quite loosely as he doesn’t seem to have any choice, as a lookout, and is posted on a South Pacific island alone. He attempts to rescue a watcher from another island, but turns up too late and finds him dead. Instead, he discovers Catherine Freneau, Leslie Caron, the daughter of the French Consul in possession of seven little girls who were students at the consulate. He takes them back to his lookout in a boat more suitable for one where they take over his home and attempt to improve his habits. Because it’s too dangerous to arrange to airlift them off the island, they’re stuck living with alcoholic slob that is Eckland for many weeks. The comedy between this battle of the sexes is quite fun as Freneau tries to make a proper home for the girls and Eckland refuses to cooperate.


Deliberately casting his established screen image aside, the 60-year-old Cary Grant plays Walter Eckland, an unkempt, uncouth and unshaven beach bum. It is truly a sight to see my first celebrity crush as a beach bum. Reminiscing over  all the tuxedos and smoking jackets and loafers makes one question why Grant would take such a role, but after watching such a sweet and naive story I understand that Grant stays true to his charming charismatic self and shines through the grime and liquor of the one Mr. Eckland. The first half of the film devotes good time and great laughs to Walter who keeps busy relaying radio reports of Japanese air activity only because he’s been promised a shipment of liquor by Australian naval officer Frank Houghton (Trevor Howard) that has been hidden across the island to keep him honest and working. Grant portrays such a drunkard in a way I believe only he could. The characters in this film aren’t out of the ordinary, they’re quite relatable, especially the one young girl who just keeps repeating, “I want to go home,” until of course it is time to get off the island and suddenly she doesn’t want to anymore. 

The story is inventive, but isn’t new, is it lively and hilarious and completely entertaining. The arrival of the beautiful Leslie Caron as a French schoolmistress, Catherine Freneau, and her seven young students adds whimsy to the list of words to describe this film. Freneau is a strong female who has her way with Eckland’s island and camp. The animosity between Walter and Catherine erupts into a slapping contest, with Walter dishing it out as well as taking it. Only when Catherine is bitten by a deadly snake does Walter express his affections for her. The chemistry between Caron and Grant only leaves you wanting more, they are both smug and delightful. 

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.

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. We see Eckland bond with each of the girls, including Catherine throughout the film. He transforms slowly from a grumpy old sailor to a charming father figure. And the marriage of Mr. Eckland and Miss Freneau via radio is hilarious and heartfelt and everything it should be for a romantic comedy with these two lovely actors.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution:  1080p

Original aspect ratio:  1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: New Restoration from 4K Scan of Original Camera Negative makes this film look great. The very colorful and fun setting of this lush island come across very clearly. 

Depth: During the darker indoor footage there is great shadow definition that removes the flatness from the old master and aids the quality of depth in this film. 

Black Levels: Black levels are deep and dark.  No crushing witnessed during this viewing.  Shadows, shade and nighttime sequences look really rich.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are beautiful and vivid. Everything looks very lifelike and real. 

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural continuously throughout the film. Facial features are much more apparent in close-ups and medium shots. You can truly see the 60-year-old Carey Grant for himself, dirt, wrinkles, and all. 

Noise/Artifacts: Clean. A few moments of seriously minor noise that was not distracting in the least.


Audio Format: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Low-frequency dynamics.

Low-Frequency Extension: As a war film your subwoofer definitely is in use. Deep shots and explosions are peppered throughout the film and have good dynamic range. 

Surround Sound Presentation: n/a

Dialogue Reproduction: The lossless audio on this is great and as should be expected, no dropouts or distortion.


• Audio commentary by film historian David Del Valle

• “Unfinished Business: Cary Grant’s Search for Fatherhood and His Oscar” – with Marc Eliot, author of Cary Grant: A Biography

• “My Father” – internet pioneer Ted Nelson discusses director Ralph Nelson

• Universal Newsreel footage featuring Leslie Caron

• Essay by Village Voice critic Bilge Ebiri


This is a great film. Grant’s character is so unlike any other that he has portrayed. He subdues his usual obviously handsome and smooth look for one more understated and fun. His usual charm seeps through and makes the odd group of characters ever so lovable. The film is full of great one-liners and will continuously have you laughing at both the characters and their circumstances. This is a different strain of Cary Grant classics, but one that should not be missed.

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