During World War II, a commander finds himself stuck with a decrepit (and pink) submarine, a con man executive officer, and a group of army nurses.During World War II, a commander finds himself stuck with a decrepit (and pink) submarine, a con man executive officer, and a group of army nurses.During World War II, a commander finds himself stuck with a decrepit (and pink) submarine, a con man executive officer, and a group of army nurses.
Top talent makes this a winner.
There's really no reason to expect that this easy-going military comedy should hold up so well after almost 50 years. While extremely popular as a Christmas release in '59, it then boasted two top box office stars to bring in the crowds, which most critics agreed were the primary attraction supporting some rather thin and predictable material. But the merits are considerably more than reviewers originally gave credit for, and the film endures as a cleverly crafted entertainment on several levels. Its uncomplicated premise accommodates humor less derived from incident than from character and situation, making it seem far less pretentious than most films of its kind. Service comedies of this period tend to follow a pattern set by MR. ROBERTS, which was based on a hugely successful stage play and quite reverent to those origins. PETTICOAT is far more spontaneous, so even if plot threads tend to be a bit familiar, its the delivery rather than the content which holds our attention. Of course it doesn't hurt to have Cary Grant at the peak of his powers, hitting all the right notes, balancing the role of naval officer with innate dedication combined with his own charismatic charm and seemingly effortless humor, a performance which is both naturalistic and funny. Curtis, too, had found his groove at this point (he had just completed his tour de force for Billy Wilder, SOME LIKE IT HOT) contributing just the right balance of ingenuousness and star-of-the-month savvy to make his `second banana' role a success. But the lion's share of the credit must go to Blake Edwards, then in the early stages of his most successful period as a master comedy craftsman, boisterous yet sophisticated, among the last of a breed of Hollywood stylists on the rise at a time when the old studio system was nearing its end.
- Apr 6, 2004
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