When Tom Winters (Cary Grant) learns of his estranged wife's death, he decides that his three young children David, Elizabeth and Robert should live with him. But to his dismay, he learns the children don't like him very much and would prefer to live in the country with their Aunt Carolyn (Martha Hyer). After an encounter with Cinzia Zaccardi (Sophia Loren), the rebellious daughter of Italian conductor Arturo, the children ask if she could become their father's maid and look after them. Eager to escape her overbearing father, Cinzia decides to keep her socialite status a secret and accepts the position- even though she has no housekeeping skills. However, living with Tom and the children on a run-down houseboat isn’t any picnic!
Release: November 19, 1958
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Writer: Melville Shavelson & Jack Rose
Director: Melville Shavelson
Music By: George Duning
Produced By: Jack Rose
Distributed By: Paramount Pictures
Run Time: 109 minutes
Starring Sophia Loren and Cary Grant, the 1958 romantic comedy Houseboat was nominated for several prestigious awards- including two Oscars for Best Music and Best Writing. According to gossip, Grant had accepted the leading role in the film for the sole purpose of being close to Loren with whom he had had a relationship with during one of their previous movies together but by the time filming started she had married producer Carlo Ponti for the first time. Despite this awkwardness, Grant and Loren performed well together but it also may be what kept this film from being as good as it could have been.
I had heard the name Sophia Loren a few times over the years but it wasn’t until Sallie over at The Vintage Place talked about her that I ever paid attention… especially after hearing her sing with that lovely Italian accent! Therefore, I asked what would be a good film of Loren’s for a first-timer and Sallie recommended Houseboat.
After taking her suggestion, I won’t say that I thought the movie was bad but it also wasn’t wonderful either. I found Sophia Loren to be very was beautiful though and at times, she resembled Audrey Hepburn- except more fiery and passionate. I also loved her little Bing, Bang, Bong Song that she sings throughout the movie and the kids were cute but had very little to do with the film (besides being the reason why Cinzia was hired of course).
Cary Grant’s charming dry wit completely won me over in His Girl Friday and Bringing Up Baby so I was expecting more of the same in Houseboat. Unfortunately, even though this was a romantic comedy- his forte, Loren manages to outshine him in every scene. Now I’m usually not one of those people who believe that an older, distinguished actor and a young Hollywood starlet shouldn’t play opposite one another in a romance but I believe the 30-year age difference between Grant and Loren worked against the comedy. If he would have been a decade younger or her a decade older then maybe it would have seemed like they were on more equal footing (like Katharine Hepburn and him in Baby).
Cary Grant Fan Site
Sophia Loren Fan Site
Bing Bang Bong: