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'Houseboat' is a throwback to the kind of sweet, happy comedies Cary Grant did in the late '40s-early 50s, and it foreshadows the domestic comedies James Stewart and Henry Fonda would do in the sixties. Granted, there is more romance (and with Sophia Loren as the objection of affection, Cary has it all OVER Jimmy and Hank!) but ultimately, it scores as a terrific family movie, as Loren, playing an inept but adorable housekeeper/nanny, wins the affection of widower Grant's kids, and awakens in him a more complete love than he was experiencing with his society girlfriend (played effectively by the beautiful Martha Hyer).
Living in a rundown houseboat to save on expenses, Grant and his family's lives had become a boring routine, until the arrival of Hurricane Loren, with her Italian philosophy, her singing, and her unmistakable femininity and sex appeal (which introduces oldest son Paul Peterson to the joys of puberty, and to daughter Mimi Gibson and younger son Charles Herbert a mother-figure they both needed). Grant is at first oblivious to her charms, but she is hard to ignore for long! The question then becomes, when will Cary 'wake up', and realize everything he needs is right on the houseboat?
Filmed after Grant and Loren's whirlwind affair during the filming of 'The Pride and the Passion', the film was a bittersweet experience for both stars, particularly shooting the wedding scene, as Grant still desperately wanted to marry Loren, but she had already decided to remain with longtime love Carlo Ponti. Viewers aware of the 'behind-the-scenes' story will appreciate the performances of the two leads even more!
After you watch 'Houseboat', catch the flipside of this story in Grant's later 'Father Goose', as a drunken reprobate with a boat who must deal with governess Leslie Caron and her charges! The two films make a fascinating double-feature, and showcases Cary Grant's amazing versatility!
Seen either way, 'Houseboat' is a delight!
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