Reel Insights - Hollywood Movies that Convey Surprisingly Profound Philosophical Messages


“Houseboat,” a Paramount Pictures release from 1958, is a comedy starring Cary Grant and Sophia Loren. Grant plays a widower with three children, who moves the family onto a houseboat and takes Loren in as a housekeeper with no apparent skills at cooking or cleaning. The film is light-hearted, even bordering on slapstick, and Cary sticks to his typical role of the debonair, bemused sophisticate. That is why it is so surprising when, two-thirds of the way into the film, while fishing off the deck of the houseboat, Grant attempts to explain the meaning of “life after death” to his eldest son.

Life after Death
In the comedy "Houseboat," Cary Grant takes a moment to seriously explain the meaning of "life after death."

Using a pitcher of water as a metaphor for a human being, Grant shows how the pitcher is nothing more than a container for the water, much as a man or woman’s body is a container for his or her “life force.” He challenges his son to “lose” the water, and the boy immediately pours some of it into the river. “The only thing is,” Grant observes, “It isn’t lost. It’s [become] part of the whole river.”

The son pours a bit more of the water onto the deck of the houseboat, but then grasps his father’s message. “I get the idea,” the kid says, “It will evaporate, become a cloud, and come down someplace else as rain.”

In death, Grant says, we simply “go back into God’s universe, and the security of being part of all life again and of all nature. And for all we know, that sort of life after death may be very beautiful.”

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