- by Zoë
Tom Winston is a
widower trying to get to know his children after prolonged absences due to
work. When his 7 year old son, Robert, brings home Cinzia, Tom persuades her
to stay and act as a maid. Cinzia is interested in Tom, but he is having a
romance with Caroline, until he realizes it is Cinzia he is really in love
- by Helen Fredericks
Tom Winston (Cary Grant) is a government worker, whose job
has kept him away from his family for long periods at a time. When his wife dies suddenly,
he is faced with the fact that he and his three children are strangers. Although, Tom
knows nothing of being a Father or how to help his children through the loss of their
Mother, he decides that he must try. HOUSEBOAT is this story.
When he first takes custody of his children, David (Paul
Peterson) the oldest son who has a tendency to steal, Elizabeth (Mimi Gibson) the daughter
who tries to be brave through thunderstorms and Robert (Charles Herbert) the youngest, who
withdraws after his mother's death, he takes them to his apartment in Washington, DC. There
he finds he is ill-equipped for the job of fatherhood.
After a day of showing the kids around the Capital, he
takes them to a concert. This is where Robert runs away and meets up with Cinzia (Sophia
Loren). Cinzia, the daughter of Aruto Zaccardi (Eduardo Ciannelli) a famous conductor, is
tired of meeting "all the right people!" After a fight with her Father, she
runs away and befriends Robert!
When Cinzia brings Robert home, Robert begs his Dad to hire
Cinzia as a maid. Tom assumes she is a 'lady of the night' and not really maid material.
But to please his children, he offers her the job and is surprised when she returns the
next day, all cleaned-up to accept the offer.
They move to the country, to a house that while being moved
to the new lot, is destroyed by a train. They end up in a broken down, old houseboat. This
is when Tom finds out that Cinzia does not know how to cook, clean or even do laundry.
What she does know how to do, is to heal this family and put them back together with love.
Along the line Cinzia and Tom fall in love.
As they create a home out of the Houseboat, they recreate
the family. One of the best scenes in the movie is one where Tom and David have a talk
about death and why everything must die. Tom explains that nothing really ever dies, it
just changes and becomes part of the world around us.
HOUSEBOAT is a comedy about Fathers and children, the
romance of a man and woman and how a family heals after the loss of a parent. It is funny
and tender all in one story.
I was 10 when this movie was released. I remember going to
the theater to see it with my Mom. This is when I fell in love with Cary. I also remember
that for months after seeing this movie, my sisters and I drove my Mom and Dad crazy with
the red cap, gold cap rhyme! "Who sir? Me Sir?"
Film Review - September 10, 1958
- by "Ron"
- submitted by Barry Martin
The voyage of "Houseboat" is to a nearly extinct era in
motion pictures when screens and hearts bubbled over with the
warmth of original family humor. Wholly new and superbly
lensed, it is, by all means, a welcome return trip, captained by
Cary Grant who will have little trouble guiding the Paramount film
to a welcome return at the boxoffice. "Houseboat"
also should be the first financially successful American film
excursion for Sophia Loren, strange in that it's mostly a
The beauty of
"Houseboat," as conceived and executed by Mel Shavelson
and Jack Rose, is the beauty of a growing love and understanding,
of an outsider's "intrusion" to help the emotions along
and of the lightness yet importance with which the conflicts are
It's a perfect role for Grant, who
plays a government lawyer separated from his wife and who, upon
her accidental death, is brought into contact with his three
children, none of whom are very friendly toward him. The two
boys and the girl, in fact, rebel against him, but the now-patient
father is determined to straighten out their neuroses and gain
their love at the same time. Enter Miss Loren, a full-blown
lass with lovely knees who's been kept in tow by her father, a
noted Italian symphony conductor, and who takes the first chance
to get away from it all. Grant, though he takes her for a
tramp, hires her as a maid at seeing her ability to handle his
children upon first meeting. Off goes everyone to the
country, and when their intended home, being moved to the Potomac,
is struck by a train, the crew boards a decrepit houseboat, puts
it in a state of repair, and through living together begin to
understand and love each other. This, of course, also goes
for the two adults (by now, he's noticed her knees) and all ends
merrily in a shipboard wedding ceremony attended en masse by the
Grant mixes concern with disconcern
and says more with a head tilt than most residents of situation
comedy are able to say with an entire script. He may not
always understand his children, but he's certain to keep filmgoers
on his side while he's trying. Miss Loren continues to act
better in irate Italian than in emotional English, but, despite a
physical appearance that overcomes any inner talents, she is
believable and sometimes downright warm as the lover of Grant and
Harry Guardino is outstanding as a
fiery wolf who will take anything but a wife, and, with this role,
steps up a notch in proving himself a top film actor. Martha
Hyer, becoming typed as the rich "other" woman, is as
always, beautiful and skillfully competent. Eduardo
Ciannelli is fine as Miss Loren's father, and Murray Hamilton is
very good as Grant's military friend.
As one might expect, the moppets -
Mimi Gibson, Paul Petersen and Charles Herbert - steal the
show. Miss Gibson portrays a childish fear with finesse;
Petersen makes his "wrong path" well traveled; and
Herbert is a real hijacker of audiences' hearts.
Rose, who produced, and Shavelson,
who directed, scripted "Houseboat" from their original
story. It's light and happy all the way round, and it's put
together with taste. There's corn, to be sure, but the bin
hasn't been filled to capacity.
Technically, the film is
excellent. Ray June's Technicolor-Vista-Vistion photography
is artistic, and there are fine shots of Washington, D.C.
One of the film's top attributes is
its musical score - a colorful, frothy creation by George Duning.
And the two Jay Livingston - Ray Evans tunes - "Almost in
Your Arms" and "Bing, Bang, Bong" - are catchy
enough to give "Houseboat" an extra shove.
TIMES Film Review - November 14, 1958
- by Bosley Crowther
- submitted by Barry Martin
The best authorities on how to rear children may be a bit alarmed
at the methods advocated by Jack Rose and Mel Shavelson in their
movie comedy, "Houseboat," which came to the Capitol
yesterday. Their way seems to be to load the youngsters
aboard a leaky old residential barge and then bring in Sophia
Loren to be a combination mother and maid.
This may be the Hollywood idea of
how to be charming and gay with a trio of motherless children
whose paternal parent is Cary Grant. With him peering out
from under his eyebrows and taking a jaundiced attitude toward
practically every whim and dereliction of his conspicuously badly
brought-up kids, this may be as good a way as any - especially
when the aim is obviously not smart child-raising but getting Miss
Loren into the film
However, it misses on two
scores. First, it is in bad taste. The trumped-up
pathos of motherless children and the aura of Miss Loren do not
mix. Both are exaggerated in this elaborately synthetic
film, but that's no warrant for making a tasteless mish-mash of
essentially clean sentiment and leering sex.
With Miss Loren slinking about the
houseboat in various revealing states of décolletage, designed to
catch the audience's attention, as well as Mr. Grant's, it is
offensive to pretend to be interested in the emotional
disturbances of kids.
In the second place, what has been
concocted by the Messrs. Rose and Shavelson is extremely short on
entertainment - and that's its more chargeable score. Its
story of how a vagrant widower takes care of his insecure children
by haphazardly hiring an Italian beauty who he thinks is a cheap
domestic (or worse) is a silly piece of contrivance, and its jokes
and japes are poor. The whole thing, including the child
psychology, is a matter of cheap artifice.
Although Paul Peterson, Mimi Gibson
and Charles Herbert look cute as the kids, their acting is
generally affected under the direction of Mr. Shavelson. So
is that of Miss Loren and the leathery Mr. Grant, who looks old
enough to be the kids' grandfather. Martha Hyer is cool as a
There are songs and some scenic
shots of Washington in this Paramount color film, but they fail to
provide this creaky "Houseboat" with much-needed
- by Kathy Fox
This is another of my favorite movies and
Cary's 65th film. I admit that I go for the love stories. Is there any where
else to hang out? And this had to be hard film for Cary Grant to make. He
and Sophia Loren had met earlier in 1957 during the filming of their first
film together, THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION, in Spain. This was Ms. Loren's
first English-speaking role, and Cary fell head over heals in love with his
co-star when they were making this movie together. Sophia was of course the
product of Carlo Ponti and she owed him everything for her movie career. It
is said that Sophia neither encouraged or discouraged Cary with regard to
their relationship. We just know that they had one. When Betsy got wind in
California of her husband's feelings for his co-star, she rushed to him in
Spain where she stayed for a while, trying to rekindle her feelings with her
husband. She finally left after several weeks because she was due to start a
movie of her own, and booked passage on The Andrea Doria on its
ill-fated voyage to America. On July 26, 1956, The Andrea Doria was
hit by The Stockholm off Nantucket Island and sank. Betsy was saved
along with most of the passengers, but she lost a lot of jewelry that Cary
had given her. It was confusing to Cary when he received word of the
accident because being in a remote part of Spain, word of the sinking did
not reach him right away. He and Betsy were said to have been much closer at
this point in time because of the accident that could had tragic
consequences. It is also rumored that Ms. Drake wrote the screen play for
HOUSEBOAT and she was to play the part of Cinzia, but Cary wanted to make
another movie with Sophia and he got his way. When Cary fell for women, he
fell hard and it hurt him most of the time! HOUSEBOAT is a love story of a
widower, Tom Winters, who reclaims his children after his wife is killed in
an auto accident. He has not seen his children on a regular basis for quite
some time and hires Ms. Loren, Cinzia Zaccardi, as a housekeeper and sitter
for his children. They end up on a houseboat, after the house they were
going to move into was destroyed by a train accident. Cary's wife's sister,
played by Martha Hyer (Caroline) is also interested in him and has been in
love with him for years and now that her marriage is on the rocks she has
filed for a divorce. Cinzia is in there taking care of the children, and Tom
and she fall in love, and as usual, the man is the last to know. Finally,
everything comes to a head when Tom takes Cinzia to a dance where Caroline
finally gets Tom to propose, "I'll take you on any basis, Tom."
The when Tom asks Cinzia to dance, he finally realizes that he is in love
with her but friends tell Cinzia of his forthcoming marriage to Caroline.
Cinzia tells Tom to "go to straight to hell" and runs away. Tom
chases her, and finally reveals his love for her when they are found in the
row boat kissing. However, the children are afraid that Cinzia will not want
them any more since she will marry Tom and they boycott the wedding. Also
they are afraid of losing Cinzia since their real mother has already been
killed. Finally Tom convinces the children that they are a family. The scene
where Cary and Sophia are dancing gets me every time. Cary is looking at her
and you know that he is in love with her, and I feel that she is with him.
At the end of the movie, Tom and Cinzia marry, but in reality, Sophia is
being married by proxy to Carlo Ponti in Mexico. This was a blow to Cary and
he reunited with Betsy to try to salvage the marriage but it was too late
and they separated in 1958, but were not divorced until 1962. Don't miss
this one, the love story soars.
Click here to read Jenny's Crackpot
Reviews at the Cary Grant Shrine
<< Back to Reviews | Top of Page