The last couple of weekends, my wife and I have watched a couple of old Cary Grant comedies. First was Operation Petticoat and the second was Father Goose. I have to say that neither has the frantic energy of Arsenic and Old Lace, or the cracking dialogue of His Girl Friday, but they were enjoyable. My wife absolutely loved them. I think these movies, even with their sexual subtext, would be fine for most kids, though likely most of it would be lost on the Princess (almost 6) and Smiley McGrinsalot (3 & ½).
Operation Petticoat sees Grant as a submarine captain in the Pacific more than ready to get into WWII, though his sub takes damage and is barely functioning. Tony Curtis plays a naval officer with a fast mouth and loose morals who gets the captain the things he needs to get his sub underway. Of course, both learn lessons and mature, while rescuing a handful of nubile nurses from an island about to be overrun by the Japanese. Grant and Curtis play well off each other, and there’s a touch of action along with the broad humour.
Father Goose is also set in WWII, with Grant as a kind of recluse tricked into acting as a spotter for the Australians on one of the multitude of small islands in the South Pacific. When he is called on to rescue another spotter (whom the Australian command promises him will be his replacement), he instead finds a teacher and her handful of schoolgirls with whom he needs to share his island hideway. Hilarity ensues.
I would call these ‘gentle’ comedies, that I found amusing but with few real laughs. My wife, however, was laughing for a fair portion of the movie. Maybe it’s about expectations. My memories of these movies (I was on a Cary Grant kick in high school and saw a bunch of his movies) may have led me to expect too much, whereas my wife had no real expectations.
I would recommend both these movies, as they are classics, funny, and definitely entertaining. Most of Cary Grant’s movies from the 1940s on were pretty quality, so you can rarely go wrong, just don’t expect a laugh a minute or anything raunchy.