Monday, September 17, 2012

Favorite Lines

In 1964, leading man Cary Grant was starting to get a bit long in the tooth. He wasn't far from retiring–he was only sixty, and he lived until he was in his eighties–but he knew he couldn't keep playing lead roles, he didn't want to do character parts, and so he bowed out gracefully.

The movie Father Goose, with Leslie Caron and Trevor Howard, was one of those madcap screwball romantic comedies so popular in the thirties and forties, a genre in which Grant was as good as they got. 

Been almost fifty years since I saw it, so my memory is sketchy, but bear with me.

The set-up is, it's WWII, and Grant, a beach-combing curmudgeon and hard-drinking fellow, is recruited to spy on Japanese overflies on his island in the South Pacific. He reluctantly agrees to do so. One of his scruffiest roles, no suave character here. 

Pretty quick, Caron, playing a French school teacher, arrives with a gaggle of little girl students, on the run from the Japanese. Grant has no use for them, and calls on the Navy to come and fetch them, but of course, they can't, so he's stuck.

Grant and Caron's characters detest each other on sight, so you know where this is going, it being a screwball romantic comedy. They are at each other constantly, calling each other names, and, of course, the Japanese are coming, so that clock starts ticking. 

The teacher and girls hide his booze in order to blackmail him into doing stuff they want. It ramps up. Grant keeping calling his Navy contact, telling him to get them off his island.

Caron is just as eager to get off the island. They call each other names: Grant allows to the Navy contact, Howard, that Grant is a filthy beast; Grant counters with calling her Little Goody Two Shoes.

After much merriment and looming Japanese,  they fall for each other. And they decide that they want the captain to marry them, over the radio. 

One of the officers goes to fetch the captain. Says, "They want to get married."

The captain stares at him as if he's just turned into a giant tree frog. The line, delivered in amazement:

"Married? Goody Two Shoes and the Filthy Beast?!"

I can remember laughing my ass at least partway off when I heard that. It was the best moment of the film for me.

Written by Peter Stone and Frank Tarloff, both of whom wrote a lot of movies and TV on their own.

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