“If you’re waiting for the big finale, I’m sorry — this is all I do.”
During World War II, an alcoholic non-conformist (Cary Grant) is forced by a Royal Australian Navy commander (Trevor Howard) to watch for Japanese planes off an isolated island in Papua New Guinea — but Grant soon finds his beloved solitude interrupted by the arrival of a French woman (Leslie Caron) caring for seven stranded school girls.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Cary Grant Films
- Character Arc
- Leslie Caron Films
- Romantic Comedy
- Trevor Howard Films
- World War Two
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “genial comedy” — Cary Grant’s next-to-last film before retiring from the screen — “has none of the typical elements of a ‘cult’ movie”, but he notes that he’s “come across an amazing number of people who are truly devoted to it.” (He’s “told in some places it always plays on television at Easter.”) Peary expresses wonder that the script won an Oscar (he refers to it as “typical”), but adds that it “benefits from inspired teaming of the stars, who work extremely well together”. When contemplating why “this film [is] so popular, especially with women”, Peary conjectures “that many women look at the heavy-drinking, gone-to-seed men sitting next to them in front of the TV and hope that they’ll follow Grant’s example and reform, to display once more those qualities that made them so lovable in the first place.”
Peary’s somewhat dismissive review of this film led me to expect less than what I found when revisiting this enjoyable romantic comedy, which starts off somewhat strained (both Grant and Caron’s characters are pills) but goes in surprisingly delightful and quirky directions. Watching as “Grant reforms and reveals his bravery, resourcefulness, and concern for the trapped females” (Caron and her charges) is heartwarming and humorous, and Caron’s evolution (thanks to being plied with alcohol after a snake bite) plays out well. Thankfully, the gaggle of girls are nicely (under)played by the unknown young actresses, adding to the veracity of the scenario. There are numerous memorable moments, both humorous and frightening; it’s the interplay between these two moods that provides so much authentic tension.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
Yes, for the delightful script.