Houseboat

 (3,889)6.61 h 49 min1958X-RayALL
Tom Winston, a widower, is trying to understand and raise three precocious children alone. He gets a little unexpected help from Cinzia, when the children decide she is be the new maid. She is actually an Italian socialite who is trying to get away from her overprotective father.
Directors
Melville Shavelson
Starring
Harry GuardinoBess FlowersSophia Loren
Genres
ComedyDrama
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
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4.8 out of 5 stars

3889 global ratings

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Top reviews from the United States

H. BalaReviewed in the United States on April 2, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
"Upstairs maid or downstairs maid? Well, I wouldn't want you to wear yourself out running up all those stairs."
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There aren't too many roles in which I find Cary Grant disagreeable, but this is one of them. Of course, since it's Cary Grant, I stayed vexed only so long before he eventually won me over with his dang charm. He plays a harried father who tries hard to care for his three unhappy children, only, he's appallingly rusty when it comes to parenting. See, he'd been neglectful of his young brood, so work-obssessed he'd allowed the ex-wife to be the primary custodian. When the ex passes away, Tom Winters chooses to take responsibility for his two boys and little girl, never mind that they'd rather stay with their grandparents. He whisks them away, anyway.

The plot synopsis to Houseboat goes like so: "A lawyer with three children lives on a houseboat with an Italian symphony conductor's daughter as his maid." No, Mr. Winters never intended for them to inhabit a creaky houseboat. It just worked out that way. Initially, he sets himself and the kids up in a cramped apartment in Washington, DC. Of course, the kids detest their new digs.

Sophia Loren plays 22-year-old Cinzia Zaccardi, feisty socialite and spoiled daughter of a celebrated symphony conductor. Cinzia can't cook or wash or sew or dust. She is, instead, posh and cultured, having attended the best schools in Switzerland. Cinzia has accompanied her father (Eduardo Ciannelli) for his orchestra's American tour. But she's fed up with being on display all the time, having to behave all the time. She's bored out of her gourd and restless. One evening, during the Washington, D.C. leg of the tour, she slips away into the night seeking to experience proper American nightlife. She creeps into a rowboat and promptly bumps into a runaway child and his harmonica.

You can't blame the kid for being smitten. He follows Cinzia to a street carnival, and she's swell enough of a dame that she dances with the little fella. And, a bit later, she even takes him home to his worried father. Who, you guessed it, is Tom Winters.

It's a long-about way of telling you how Cinzia met Mr. Winters. Note that, at this stage, Cinzia looks far from kempt, what with having reveled and cavorted most of the evening. So maybe you shouldn't condemn the man for thinking she's this poor immigrant girl, especially since she spins a yarn about being a G.I. bride, well, almost a G.I. bride, except the G.I. didn't marry her and so she had to go look for work... What with his youngest having taken a shine to her, what else can Mr. Winters, who tops his children's sh-- list, do but offer her a job as a live-in housekeeper?

And then this and that happens - much of it amusing - and they all end up living on a creaky houseboat.

So, the kids. The oldest, 13-year-old David, is a surly, aspiring kleptomaniac. The daughter is frightened of storms and, as it turns out, only wants for her father to comfort her and reassure her. The youngest, as you know, is a runaway.

1958's Houseboat was a huge success despite the crazy behind-the-scenes soap opera stuff going on. Reportedly, Cary Grant was mightily crushing on Sophia Loren, but his romantic advances were met with a resounding "meh" from Loren (who was already involved with another older gent). Further fueling the melodrama, this was supposed to be the third vehicle to co-star Grant and his then wife Betsy Drake (who also wrote the screenplay), except Grant supposedly finagled to replace her with Loren. To compound the insult, Betsy's screenplay was almost entirely retooled by screenwriters Melville Shavelson (who also directed) and Jack Rose, and Betsy got no writing credit. Moreoever, the new script received an Oscar nod for Best Original Story and Screenplay. I feel ya, Betsy.

Onscreen, Grant and Loren generate fantastic chemistry. Yes, Grant spends much of the movie being this oblivious, distracted dad, but his comic timing remains impeccable, and I just couldn't stay grouchy at him, never mind that I knew where the kids were coming from. The revelation to me was Loren's superb knack for comedy. I'd never seen her so accessible without sacrificing her va-va-voomness, her image of the earthy sex goddess. Each time I watch this movie, I fall in love with her all over again as she croons the fabulous "Almost In Your Arms," but in Italian. It's a song that got the Oscar nod, as well, for Best Original Song. But at least Betsy Drake didn't write it.
68 people found this helpful
Dave R.Reviewed in the United States on July 5, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Didn't Know Houseboat Had An Eastern Religious Teaching
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When Tom and his oldest son are sitting alone on the tilted boat with a pitcher of water, Tom uses the idea of losing some of the water in the pitcher as an analogy to the death of the boy's mother. The idea is that the water poured out of the pitcher isn't really lost, it simply becomes absorbed back into the river. The boy then pours some water onto the deck of the houseboat and asks what about that. The boy then says, yeah, he gets it, that water evaporates, goes up in the sky and comes back down as rain. The idea being the lost water merely changes to another function.

This is actually an old eastern religious belief, that when our flesh body dies, our soul is absorbed back into the great 'All'. However, it is not what the New Testament Bible teaches, nor the Old Testament. So Jews that claim to believe this actually got the idea from eastern pagans somewhere in their past heritage.

What The Bible actually teaches is that when our flesh body dies, our flesh goes back to the earth where it came from, but our spirit goes back to God Who gave it. And that is in the sense of our soul with that spirit returning to God, and retaining our person or individuality.

The idea of our soul as a life force only is like a drop of water going back into the river or Ocean and supposes our soul loses it individuality or person, and is merely absorbed in the River, which is an eastern belief.

Add on to that idea, Tom also uses the idea that nature is God, and that God is everything, which is an idea called Pantheism. It does not believe not believe God is an individual person, but a force only that permeates everything. That also is a belief from the ancient eastern pagan religions.
9 people found this helpful
DaleReviewed in the United States on January 18, 2019
3.0 out of 5 stars
Not A Bad Way to Spend 90 Minutes
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This is another lighter-than-air 1950's Rom-Com that takes place in an alternative universe where (most) everyone is happy and clever and polite and wealthy and beautiful / handsome.

And that's not a -bad- thing, especially when you need some mindless entertainment to lower your blood pressure after watching / reading the daily news.

This is the story of Cary Grant, a widower with three young children who ends up (through some convoluted circumstances) with Sophia Loren as his "maid" to help care for his children on a broken down old houseboat.

I'm sure you can guess how this all plays out.

Cary comes off as a little too pig-headed and clueless at times, while Sophia strikes just the right balance between smoldering sex symbol and good girl. The kids do a pretty good job playing their parts, and get some of the best lines.

The only real negative is when you stop to consider the age difference between the stars. It's kind of creepy that Grant is three decades older than his romantic interest.

It's entirely predictable but still not a bad way to clear your mind for an hour and a half.
10 people found this helpful
Dormant OneReviewed in the United States on September 16, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
An utterly charming film for all ages!
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The chemistry between Cary Grant and Sophia Loren is palpable in this film. I went to see it when I was 9 years old, every single night for the week that it was shown in my local theater. I'm also amazed at the performances by the three very young children -- rarely have I seen child actors' performances to match these kids! The song "Almost In Your Arms" is a classic, sung by both Sam Cooke and Sophia, who had quite a nice singing voice! Since I've had the film (for about a week), I've watched it 3 times, and it's currently on loan with my neighbor. (I hope I get it BACK!!!)
6 people found this helpful
Alton WrotenReviewed in the United States on May 6, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great film
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A wonderful movie from a time when Hollywood's best and brightest were only concerned with entertaining the audience instead of scolding them for "wrong-think", when actors at least had some respect for those who made their careers possible. That difference in attitude shows in the films.

And Sophia Loren. Anyone not familiar with the story of her life should at least spend a half hour with Google and hit the high points. When her characters were strong, dignified, and sure of themselves because they'd gone from the bottom to the top on their own hard work, will and wits (All her characters?) she wasnt acting so much as just being Sophia Loren.
One person found this helpful
Sandra ElamReviewed in the United States on October 12, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Fun frolic with Cary and Sophia
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Fun movie with surprisingly good singing from the charming Sophia Loren. Don't be dissuaded by the content advisory warnings. As far as I can figure out, Violence = shoes thrown, Sexuality = a kiss, Foul language = referring to women as dames, and Drug use = drinking alcohol and smoking. Not to worry - this is 1958, after all! Cary Grant is a clueless father until Sophia as Cinzia shows him how to reach his motherless kids. The children were not cardboard characters but were rather spoiled and whiny like real children. I really enjoyed this movie and found myself smiling along.
JTrahanUSAReviewed in the United States on June 16, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Classic. Always good!!!
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A Classic. Always good!!! You old timers, remember this, you may have seen it a few times before, but chances are that your youngsters never heard of it. I believe they will also enjoy it. Some of those old movies are much better than the stuff that is put out today.
12 people found this helpful
Carolyn L. PerkinsReviewed in the United States on April 15, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Best Of Times!
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Great classic romantic comedy! Luv Sophia Loren and Cary Grant. They made two brilliant films together, it was a great crossover film for her, She, Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra during the Napoleonic Era "Pride and the Passion" which I also own on VHS needs to be transfered to DVD format, just haven't got around to it. At any rate, I purchased this movie, it's nice to remember those care free by gone days of just growing up and enjoying life. We would gather around the tube as a family and watch these types of movies with popcorn and sodas, or in our case Hawaiian Punch and mama's homemade pralines. Great memories!!
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