Father Goose (1964)

115 mins | Comedy | December 1964

Director:

Ralph Nelson

Producer:

Robert Arthur

Cinematographer:

Charles Lang Jr.

Editor:

Ted J. Kent

Production Designers:

Alexander Golitzen, Henry Bumstead

Production Company:

Granox Company
Full page view
HISTORY

On 23 Oct 1961, DV reported that the newly formed production-distribution company, Albion Film Distributors Ltd., had committed to develop seven to twelve feature films, including an adaptation of S. H. Barnett’s short story, “A Place of Dragons.” Three years later, the 18 Feb 1964 DV indicated that the property, referred to by the abbreviated title, Place of Dragons, had since been acquired by Universal Pictures, with David Miller attached to direct for producer Robert Arthur. According to a 17 May 1964 NYT article, Universal executive Mel Tucker asked Cary Grant to read Barnett’s work during the filming of Charade (1963, see entry). Grant passed the story on to Charade screenwriter Peter Stone, who expressed enthusiasm for the material. In the wake of Charade’s commercial success, Stone was signed on to develop the script. Grant served as a producer through his production outlet, the Granox Company.
       Although the 25 Mar 1964 Var also listed Hal Chester as an associated producer, Chester’s name does not appear in any additional contemporary sources. In their 2004 book, Hide in Plain Sight: The Hollywood Blacklistees in Film and Television, 1950-2002, Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner credit Chester for purchasing the story, which was revised by blacklisted screenwriter Frank Tarloff.
       The 18 Mar 1964 DV indicated that directing duties had been assumed by Ralph Nelson, who was currently scouting locations in Jamaica. According to a 10 Apr 1964 DV item, Nelson considered casting his seven-year-old daughter, Meredith Nelson, to play one of the seven schoolchildren, but ultimately selected a group of ... More Less

On 23 Oct 1961, DV reported that the newly formed production-distribution company, Albion Film Distributors Ltd., had committed to develop seven to twelve feature films, including an adaptation of S. H. Barnett’s short story, “A Place of Dragons.” Three years later, the 18 Feb 1964 DV indicated that the property, referred to by the abbreviated title, Place of Dragons, had since been acquired by Universal Pictures, with David Miller attached to direct for producer Robert Arthur. According to a 17 May 1964 NYT article, Universal executive Mel Tucker asked Cary Grant to read Barnett’s work during the filming of Charade (1963, see entry). Grant passed the story on to Charade screenwriter Peter Stone, who expressed enthusiasm for the material. In the wake of Charade’s commercial success, Stone was signed on to develop the script. Grant served as a producer through his production outlet, the Granox Company.
       Although the 25 Mar 1964 Var also listed Hal Chester as an associated producer, Chester’s name does not appear in any additional contemporary sources. In their 2004 book, Hide in Plain Sight: The Hollywood Blacklistees in Film and Television, 1950-2002, Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner credit Chester for purchasing the story, which was revised by blacklisted screenwriter Frank Tarloff.
       The 18 Mar 1964 DV indicated that directing duties had been assumed by Ralph Nelson, who was currently scouting locations in Jamaica. According to a 10 Apr 1964 DV item, Nelson considered casting his seven-year-old daughter, Meredith Nelson, to play one of the seven schoolchildren, but ultimately selected a group of unknown foreign girls whose accents better suited the roles.
       According to the 8 Apr 1964 DV, principal photography began that day on the Universal Studios lot in Universal City, CA, under the new title, Father Goose. A 14 Apr 1964 item from the same publication stated that Universal faced brief “legal complications” from the estate of writer Gene Fowler, which requested the studio either change the title or purchase the title rights to his 1934 biography, Father Goose: The Story of Mack Sennett.
       Two days into production, DV stated that the schedule had been shifted to accommodate Grant and co-star Leslie Caron’s attendance at the Academy Awards ceremony in Santa Monica, CA, where Caron was nominated for Best Actress for The L-Shaped Room (1963, see entry). In May, filming moved to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, before returning to Los Angeles through early Jul, when the 14 Jul 1964 DV announced the completion of first unit photography. An item published the following day reported the death of crewmember Gail Davis, who had remained in Jamaica with the second unit.
       According to a 20 May 1964 DV news item, Cy Coleman was hired to write music for the film after Grant heard his “Piano Witchcraft” album, given to him by Capitol Records promotions manager, Merrilyn Hammond.
       The 12 Oct 1964 DV indicated that two sneak preview screenings were held the previous weekend in Santa Barbara, CA. On 27 Nov 1964, the same publication reported that the University of Southern California (USC) Trojan Marching Band had selected the film’s title song, “Pass Me By,” to perform during the halftime show in their upcoming game against the University of Notre Dame.
       Father Goose premiered 10 Dec 1964 at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Although the 21 Aug 1964 DV noted this was the twenty-seventh Cary Grant picture to debut at the 6,200-seat venue, the star still had tremendous box-office power, as the 11 Dec 1964 DV reported opening day earnings of $28,000. The 22 Nov 1964 NYT stated that two benefit performances were scheduled for 18 Dec 1964, with proceeds donated to the American Foundation of Religion and Psychiatry.
       According to the 9 Dec 1964 Var, release would expand to eighty-five “key” cities on Christmas Day, with 300 theaters booked by the end of the holiday season. The following spring, the 5 Mar 1965 LAT announced that the citywide engagement in Los Angeles, CA, was set to begin the following Wednesday as a double feature with Bedtime Story (1964, see entry).
       In addition to becoming the seventh highest-grossing film of 1964, Father Goose won the Academy Award for Writing (Story and Screenplay—written directly for the screen), and received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy.
       The 13 Apr 1964 DV brief identified Father Goose as the first feature film of costume designer Ray Aghayan. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
23 Oct 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
18 Feb 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
18 Mar 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 Apr 1964
p. 6.
Daily Variety
10 Apr 1964
pp. 2-3.
Daily Variety
13 Apr 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Apr 1964
p. 6.
Daily Variety
17 Apr 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
20 May 1964
p. 11.
Daily Variety
14 Jul 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Jul 1964
p. 11.
Daily Variety
21 Aug 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Oct 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
27 Nov 1964
p. 3.
Daily Variety
11 Dec 1964
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
5 Mar 1965
Section C, p. 8.
New York Times
17 May 1964
Section X, p. 9.
New York Times
22 Nov 1964
p. 118.
New York Times
11 Dec 1964
p. 55.
New York Times
4 Jan 1965
p. 35.
Variety
25 Mar 1964
p. 23.
Variety
9 Dec 1964
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Granox Company presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
In charge of prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "A Place of Dragons" by S. H. Barnett (publication undetermined).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Pass Me By," words and music by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
A Place of Dragons
Place of Dragons
Release Date:
December 1964
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 10 December 1964
Los Angeles opening: 25 December 1964
Production Date:
8 April--early July 1964
Copyright Claimant:
Granox Co.
Copyright Date:
19 December 1964
Copyright Number:
LP35004
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
115
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the outbreak of World War II, American beachcomber Walter Eckland is coerced by his old friend, Australian Navy Comdr. Frank Houghton, into service as a coast-watcher on a South Pacific island. Under the code name "Mother Goose," the whiskey-loving Eckland is rewarded with a new bottle each time he spots an enemy movement. When he is ordered to rescue a spotter from another island, Eckland discovers that the man has been killed by Japanese strafers, and he finds seven stranded schoolgirls and their prim French mistress, Catherine Freneau. The two adults soon begin a contest of wills, with Catherine attempting to cure the unshaven Eckland of his drinking and use of salty language. The battle between the sexes remains a stalemate until the girls mistakenly tell Eckland that their mistress has been bitten by a poisonous snake; to ease her final hours, Eckland gets her drunk and admits that he used to be a history professor. The two discover they love each other, and they are married by radio during an air raid after it is revealed that the "snake" was actually a big stick. Houghton sends a submarine to rescue them, and a Japanese patrol boat threatens to sink it, but Eckland manages to destroy the vessel with his own launch, enabling his party of eight to be ... +


At the outbreak of World War II, American beachcomber Walter Eckland is coerced by his old friend, Australian Navy Comdr. Frank Houghton, into service as a coast-watcher on a South Pacific island. Under the code name "Mother Goose," the whiskey-loving Eckland is rewarded with a new bottle each time he spots an enemy movement. When he is ordered to rescue a spotter from another island, Eckland discovers that the man has been killed by Japanese strafers, and he finds seven stranded schoolgirls and their prim French mistress, Catherine Freneau. The two adults soon begin a contest of wills, with Catherine attempting to cure the unshaven Eckland of his drinking and use of salty language. The battle between the sexes remains a stalemate until the girls mistakenly tell Eckland that their mistress has been bitten by a poisonous snake; to ease her final hours, Eckland gets her drunk and admits that he used to be a history professor. The two discover they love each other, and they are married by radio during an air raid after it is revealed that the "snake" was actually a big stick. Houghton sends a submarine to rescue them, and a Japanese patrol boat threatens to sink it, but Eckland manages to destroy the vessel with his own launch, enabling his party of eight to be saved. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.