When divorced government lawyer Tom Winters (Cary Grant) learns of his ex-wife's death, he decides that his three young children David (Paul Petersen), Elizabeth (Mimi Gibson) and Robert (Charles Herbert) 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) who has long had a crush on Tom. The children's chance encounter with Cinzia Zaccardi (Sophia Loren), the rebellious daughter of Italian conductor Arturo (Eduardo Ciannelli), prompts them to ask if she could become their father's maid and look after them. Although Cinzia has no housekeeping skills, she is anxious to get away from her father, and accepts the position, living with Tom and the children on a houseboat.
Review by Louise Keller:
It doesn't matter how many times I watch Houseboat, I never tire of it. Much of the appeal of this delightful romantic comedy is the dynamic between Cary Grant and Sophia Loren. Grant is at his prime and Loren, 24 at the time, is stunning. But their romance is not the only appeal. The three kids, who are craving for affection, steal many of the scenes, as Loren's Cinzia becomes the catalyst for pulling the whole family together. It's the perfect kind of family film that Hollywood used to make - filled with good family values and enjoyable to watch.
'There's one - one little think you need to know,' Cinzia tells Tom, after she has been employed as the family maid. 'I don't cook.' Soon it is clear she doesn't know how to do any housework at all. What does Cinzia do? 'Oh, everything,' young Elizabeth retorts. Basic chores fade into unimportance when it comes to the issues of nurturing the relationships with the children. Before long, it is not only the three children who are smitten with Cinzia. And Aunt Carolyn (Martha Hyer) who has made it clear that she has her eyes set on Tom herself, cannot help but notice. Admittedly, there has never been a maid that looked, dressed or sang like the luscious Loren, and there is never any doubt as to where the story is heading.
One of my favourite scenes takes place on the houseboat before a dance at the stuffy country club. Cinzia (wearing a skin-tight, shiny gold gown) is serving martinis to Carolyn and two friends. 'Is this dry enough for you?' quips Cinzia, as she flings the martini over the obnoxious friend when he disrespectfully smacks her backside. It's witty and funny and remains one of those classics that you will want to own.
Published May 3, 2007
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HOUSEBOAT: DVD (G)
CAST: Cary Grant, Sophia Loren, Martha Hyer, Harry Guardino, Eduardo Ciannelli, Murray Hamilton, Mimi Gibson
PRODUCER: Jack Rose
DIRECTOR: Melville Shavelson
SCRIPT: Melville Shavelson, Jack Rose
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ray June
EDITOR: Frank Bracht
MUSIC: George Duning
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailer, photo gallery
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: April 19, 2007