Takaisin

OPERATION PETTICOAT

For Hicksflicks.com, June 27, 2014

If you're looking for a great vintage movie to share with some younger folks who balk at any movie older than six months, a good place to start is with "Operation Petticoat" (1959), which is making its Blu-ray debut on the independent Olive Films label.

Cary Grant really hit his stride in the final decade of his career, and Tony Curtis was also riding high, and both had two of their biggest hits in 1959, "North By Northwest" and "Some Like It Hot," respectively. (And you may recall that Curtis does a lengthy, dead-on Grant impersonation in the latter).

Then Grant and Curtis teamed up for another big hit later the same year, "Operation Petticoat," a World War II farce directed by up-and-comer Blake Edwards, just five years before "The Pink Panther."

In a modern-day (1959, remember) wraparound story, Admiral Matt Sherman (Grant) visits an obsolete submarine, the Sea Tiger, which he commanded during the war, sending us into a movie-long flashback.

In 1941, just days after Pearl Harbor, the docked Sea Tiger is sunk in the Philippines by a Japanese air attack. Sherman and his crew (which includes Arthur O'Connell and future TV stars Gavin MacLeod and Dick Sargent) begin repairs but they have trouble finding replacement parts.

Then in walks pampered Lt. Nick Holden (Curtis), who has no experience, knows nothing about submarines and is looking for nothing more than wine, women and song. But, it turns out, he is also a fast-talker and a great scavenger, and soon he is finding parts for the sub by stealing items from all over the base.

            

In 1941, just days after Pearl Harbor, the docked Sea Tiger is sunk in the Philippines by a Japanese air attack. Sherman and his crew (which includes Arthur O'Connell and future TV stars Gavin MacLeod and Dick Sargent) begin repairs but they have trouble finding replacement parts.

Then in walks pampered Lt. Nick Holden (Curtis), who has no experience, knows nothing about submarines and is looking for nothing more than wine, women and song. But, it turns out, he is also a fast-talker and a great scavenger, and soon he is finding parts for the sub by stealing items from all over the base.

The two most memorable plot points arrive when Sherman is forced to bring five women aboard his sub, Army nurses that need to be evacuated, and when the only primer paints available are red and white, which, when mixed together and applied, turn the submarine pink.

       

But the film is filled from stem to stern with quips, sight gags and great opportunities for Curtis to finagle and Grant to fume.

Director Edwards is really in his element here, and you can see in some of the visual jokes that he is getting ready for some of his funniest movies over the next decade — "The Pink Panther," "A Shot in the Dark," "The Great Race," "The Party").

And if your younger kids/friends enjoy this one, have them try out "North By Northwest" and "Some Like it Hot," which, with any luck, will lead to many more.

They'll thank you for it one day. After all, there are fun movies that don't feature superheroes.