Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekend Cinema Spotlight: Houseboat

"Houseboat" (1958)

I haven't had to chance to spotlight as many Cary Grant films as I would have liked but since this is officially the last weekend of September (oh my that went fast!) But I thought I would spotlight one of my favorite Cary Grant films.

Houseboat was actually my first Cary Grant film and I remember first watching it at Grandma's house. At this point I was watching classic films on my own accord, looking back I wonder what my Grandma thought of me watching them instead of MTV hehe

This is film has a lovely cast; Grant, Sophia Loren (as Cinzia), Martha Hyer (as Carolyn), Harry Guardino (as Angelo), and Paul Petersen (as David).

The film begins with Tom Winters (Grant) coming home after the death of his estranged wife. He is now in charge of his three children and although his former sister in law, Carolyn (Hyer) has been longing to take her position but his side...things change one night at a concert.

Cinzia Zaccardi is the daughter of a famous Italian conductor. Before you know it she has landed a job as Tom's maid, little does he know that she is clueless about such things. Cinzia is yearning for a different life that the one she has as do Tom's children, creating a special bond between them. Although things are complicated by Carolyn's advances, Tom's friends assuming Cinzia is something other than a maid, and Angelo's advances-Cinzia and Tom find that they have fallen in love with one another. 

I found many scenes of this films endearing, like Robert (Charles Herbert) playing the harmonica and the way Grant and Loren interacted with the children. I know this may come as a huge surprise but this is the only film I have seen with Loren in it. I know! Shame on me! I did find her character to be charming and sweet but there were scenes that annoyed me, like when she was convincing Tom's daughter Elizabeth (Mimi Gibson) to not sleep in her father's bed. I suppose I never like it when women get involved in the raising of another person's child and act like that child's mother. 

For example, in the "Sound of Music"...I know most people adore that film and I enjoy it but I cannot stand how a former nun suddenly marries a well-known wealthy man and she in her own way demands to be their mother. That's probably the most annoying part of this film for me-these children just lost their mother and suddenly a "new" one is thrown at them. Ahhhh, yes I have issues with that. I am a firm believer that people cannot just walk around taking the places of others-dead or alive-but I supposed that is the old school approach to family and marriage most likely taken in those times. LOL I know, I just digressed...hehehe

Interesting Facts About Houseboat:
  1. Original screenplay was written by Besty Drake, Grant's third wife. 
  2. Grant originally wanted it to star her but his extra-marital affair with Sophia Loren complicated the project. Drake's script was drastically re-written by two other writers to accommodate Loren and bears little resemblance to Drake's concept.
  3. Carlo Ponti obtained a Mexican divorce from his first wife and married Loren by proxy, while she was in Hollywood, filming Houseboat (1958) - and dating co-star Cary Grant (17 September 1957).
  4. It is said that Grant was devastated that Loren married Ponti. He had a difficult time filming especially the final scene of the film where the marry and kiss. He was a good sport though, he congratulated them both and shook Ponti's hand.
  5. Parts of the movie, "Houseboat", were filmed in Fort Washington, Maryland on the Potomac River and Piscataway Creek at the present site of Fort Washington marina
  6. The eldest son of the character of Tom Winters (Grant) is Peter Peterson who also starred in The Donna Reed Show.
  7. Martha Hyer who plays Carolyn, the former sister in law of Tom's, can also be seen in Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart.
  8. Melville Shavelson who directed this film also directed another favorite film of mine-Yours, Mine, and Ours
  9. All three child actors who worked with Grant and Loren said that they treated them with great care and kindness. Not all film actors take a liking to children-it was nice to hear that these two great stars were.
  10. Edith Head designed Loren's stunning dresses. I mean the woman could wear a plastic bag over her body and she would still be gorgeous but Head's dresses really were divine!

This film is fun, heartwarming, and terribly sweet. Grant was just a fox in this role....I mean he really was...woweeeee! The child actors were incredible and really made this film special for me.

I didn't forget about reviewing the book written by his daughter, Jennifer Grant. I just need more time to finish it! hehe

I hope you all enjoyed my posts about this amazing man and actor! Tune in for another post inspired by Sophia Loren's amazing wardrobe from this film!



  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt like September zipped past pretty much at the speed of light. August was a long month (in part because I was feeling extra crumby for most of it), but not this gorgeous sun-kissed September we've been having. I hope October falls somewhere between the two, as it's my favourite month and one I'd like to try and savour every last drop of.

    Wonderful movie post! Loved the ten interesting facts about Houseboat, it's a shame things didn't pan out different for Loren and Grant.

    ♥ Jessica

  2. Ummmm I need to see this IMMEDIATELY. How did I not know this existed?!?

    1. Omg I forgot to mention the best bit is that Loren sings a little song that is too cute and catchy will love it! Find it!! xox

  3. I really like Grant's later films, but this is one I have yet to see! After reading your write up on it, though, I have a feeling I'll be seeing it sooner than later.

    (I put a link to your blog on mine, I hope that was okay.)


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