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  • In Tony Curtis's filmed tribute to Cary Grant for TCM he made much of his well known idolatry of the man who made him want to become an actor. As a kid growing up in the mean streets of New York, young Bernie Schwartz saw in Cary Grant all he ever wanted to be up there on the silver screen.

    During naval service on board a submarine in World War II he got to see Cary Grant in Warner Brothers Destination Tokyo. As Curtis said, life has a funny way of working things out. What happens; Tony Curtis gets to star with Grant years later in a World War II service comedy that is set aboard a submarine.

    Destination Tokyo was not one of Grant's best films, but Operation Petticoat definitely is. Right after World War II starts, Grant's new ship, the Tigerfish is sunk right in her berth in a remote Pacific Island. Grant persuades Admiral Robert Simon to make whatever repairs he can and try and get the ship back to Pearl Harbor for repairs.

    Among other things Grant gets is a new officer Tony Curtis who hasn't exactly seen much sea duty, but he's quite the operator. The two develop quite an interesting relationship on the voyage.

    And it's one thing after another on that memorable shakedown cruise back to Pearl Harbor. But Cary Grant is as unflappable and charming as ever, though even he seems a bit put out at times.

    There are some pretty hilarious moments in Operation Petticoat, the sinking of a truck, the painting of the Tigerfish pink and then having to leave it that way until Pearl Harbor. And who can forget how they are saved from friendly fire at the climax of the film.

    Operation Petticoat was one of the biggest commercial and critical hits that Cary Grant had in Hollywood. Coming right after North By Northwest it could well be argued this was the high point of his career.

    The film holds up very well today, I think today's audience would laugh just as hard as they did in 1959.
  • A wry and lighthearted look at the U.S. Navy in 1941. Cary Grant and Tony Curtis shine amongst a wonderful supporting cast in this fictional story inspired by an actual incident that occurred during WWII. So many war movies are depressing, while others are completely ridiculous. This film, while full of sexual innuendo and lighthearted humor, still manages to keep it's humanity, with one foot planted firmly in the reality of the Pacific theater.

    A jaunty tale of an injured sub, a few army nurses, a group of lonely sailors, and some pink paint. The direction is above par for the time period and genre, the writing is bright and witty, even for today's standards, and the performances are thoroughly entertaining.

    This is a recommended must-see for fans of Curtis and Grant. Grab the popcorn and soda and enjoy! I give this charming 1959 classic a 7 out of 10.
  • 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.
  • Directed by Blake Edwards (well-known for the "Pink Panther" series, Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Great Race, "10", Victor/Victoria, and many others), this is an expertly-executed comedy with plenty of visual humor as well a "boat-load" of dry wisecracks and suggestive innuendo for the veteran cast to exploit, seemingly presaging the early 1960's sex comedies. Apparently inspired by the real-life adventures of the American submarines SEALION, SEADRAGON, and SPEARFISH, as well as humorous anecdotes adopted from other submarines, and technically advised by retired wartime submarine commander Rear Admiral Lucius M. Chappel, in a "funny" and sometimes subtle way it may be the most realistic movie about US submarines in World War II ever made.

    Plot outline: immediately following Pearl Harbor the Japanese prepare to invade the American-occupied Philippine Islands, and during an air raid on the Cavite naval base there, sink the almost brand-new submarine SEA TIGER. Nevertheless, her aggressive and professional yet equally human commander, Matt Sherman - played with admirable credibility by Cary Grant - is not about to take this lying down. After persuading the squadron commodore to give him the go-ahead, he and the remnants of his ship's company - diminished due to transfers made because of the boat's sunken condition - succeed in raising her from the harbor bottom and commence getting her seaworthy enough to escape to Australia before the pending Japanese assault. Unfortunately their repair efforts, already daunting enough, are impossibly impeded by an apparently bureaucratically-based shortage of crucial spare parts and supplies - even toilet paper (a gag in the film rendered nearly verbatim from the true-life experience of the submarine SKIPJACK).

    At this point Tony Curtis enters as Lt. Nick Holden (the character's name calling to mind actor William Holden's patented self-indulgent bad-boy persona). Having grown up in a neighborhood called "Noah's Ark" ("you traveled in pairs or you just didn't travel"), our Lt. Holden is an accomplished back-alley maneuverer who joined the Navy for the prestige of the uniform and what it can get him (in particular, a certain Miss "Super Chief"). Alas, having secured for himself a cushy job as an admiral's aid sent ahead to Manila to prepare for his admiral's later arrival, the sudden outbreak of the war results in the cancellation of the admiral's transfer and all Mr. Holden's carefully manipulated plans are sent completely awry. Thus being at loose ends he finds himself assigned as a replacement officer to the SEA TIGER. Faced with the alternative of being stuck on Bataan to endure the oncoming Japanese conquest, he sees it is in his best interest to make up for the seagoing experience he has managed to avoid up to this point in his naval career by becoming the boat's Supply Officer and securing everything the captain needs to get "the . . . submarine" out of there and to someplace where he can get a better deal.

    Although thoroughly uncomfortable with this new addition to the wardroom of his ship, Captain Sherman is so solidly dedicated to his responsibilities as the boat's commander that he is willing to make "a pact with the Devil" to get her going again and so Lt. Holden, allied with his handpicked detail of "scavengers" - Seaman Hunkle (Gavin McLeod), a sailor only known as "The Prophet {of Doom}," and of course the trusty (or at least reliable and punctilious) marine Sergeant Ramon Gallardo ("there isn't a burglar, swindler, pickpocket, or fence in the islands that doesn't know, love, and respect him") - commences a supply procurement program which might most charitably be characterized as unorthodox - or less charitably as just plain felonious. But he really hits his high point when he manages to "scavenge" five stranded Army nurses and convince the captain that he has to take them aboard. From then on the film becomes Cary Grant's battle to get his groaning, belching, backfiring, spit-and-bailing-wire-patched submarine safely to Australia while avoiding any "exchange of information" concerning "the facts of life" between the crew and their guests.

    His struggle is complicated all the more by his continual personal encounters with the almost terminally accident-prone but especially well-endowed young nurse Dolores Crandall (in the words of the "Chief of the Boat," Malumphry - "if you wanna know what you're fightin' for - there's your answer") who for all her blunders unintentionally winds up saving the boat and all aboard. As if to highlight the unconventionality of their situation along the way they manage to wind up with the vessel painted pink (don't ask me how - just try to believe I actually saw a performance nearly identical to Malumphry's in reaction to a similar problem aboard a real-life nuclear ballistic missile submarine around 1980), have to set up a maternity ward, complete with goat ("the children will need fresh milk"), and accomplish the unique induction of "Seaman Hornsby" into his brief but flavorful naval career. The plot is actually developed in the form of a flashback from about 1960 allowing it to end with a slightly sentimental and amusing bit of a twist. Clean and wholesome while still being thoroughly adult ("when a man is tired and irritable you can be sure there's one thing he's not getting enough of -- vitamins and minerals"), you can watch this one with your kids - maybe even after they've reached their cynical adolescent years.

    Note: the use of the brackets {} above in place of the stylistically correct square brackets was made necessary by some IMDb format change that made use of the correct brackets impossible. Hopefully they will not eliminate other commonly used symbols in future updates simply because the people they employ never got better than a "C" in junior high school English class and don't know what they are for.
  • As with most movies from a different era, the attitudes are quite different. Feminists would hate this movie, if they saw it today. Hollywood would never make it now in first place, unless roles were reversed and men were made to look like sex objects. That would meet PC double standards.

    Nonetheless, agendas aside, there is a lot of good humor in here; the story is interesting, and you get a well-known cast with Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Dina Merrill, Arthur O'Connell, Gavin MacLeod and Marian Ross. The latter went on to be big names on television more than movies, MacLeod on "Mary Tyler Moore" and Ross on "Happy Days."

    This was Happy Days on a ship, at least when some attractive women board the vessel. Grant has the best lines in the film - speaking lines, that is. Good entertainment. Lots of laughs before the PC made it impossible to laugh at anything, including ourselves.
  • As long as you don't expect anything substantial, "Operation Petticoat" works quite well as light entertainment, thanks to a lively script with some pretty good material, two good leading performances by Tony Curtis and Cary Grant, and a solid supporting cast. While the whole story has very limited plausibility, it has its own internal logic and consistency, rather like the better of the more manic screwball comedies of an even earlier era.

    The submarine setting is used creatively, and it has just enough realistic detail to keep it from getting too silly. Grant and Curtis have rather different styles, yet they work well together in setting the right tone for everything, and in involving the rest of the cast. While it would be hard to single out any of the other cast members, since none of them have a particularly large or important role, they all do well enough, and they make the secondary characters a solid part of the story.

    There are plenty of amusing highlights, such as the pink paint and Curtis's scrounging expeditions. For all that it is just fluff, it fits together well, making for an entertaining, unpretentious movie.
  • I thought the movie was quiet delightful. A classic for the whole family Brought back alot of great memories as a child. Not a war movie for the serious war buff's. Two thumbs up. Glad I found this one!!
  • This movie was made in 1959???!!! My kids just love this movie and learned something of W.W.II, too. Great fun and somewhat hysterical; uh historical. During Vietnam era we had some days as these. A few anyway. The best ones I remember. Kind of takes some of the stress off real war tragedy. Well made and edited. Easy to follow and understand. Can be watched repeatedly. Grant at his usual best with company as "North By Northwest" , "Father Goose" and the like. Great, well made movies the younger fans can understand and enjoy.
  • I have read this film called "fluff" with which I can most certainly not agree. I first saw in in first run forty seven years ago and it remains just as fresh and delightful today after many more viewings. Tony Curtis is at his very best in this picture as a shore-side con man reassigned to sea duty aboard the USS Sea Tiger in the opening days of WWII. Suave Cary Grant is as always flawless in his performance as the captain of the badly damaged sub, trying to keep it in the war with bailing wire and sealing wax. Edwards uses tight camera shots, well cut to maintain the illusion of the claustrophobic conditions of the sub, and witty dialog to keep the plot rolling. The chemistry between the principals and the supporting cast make this one of the best ever. That Edwars would go on to many other comedy triumphs is not at all surprising after seeing this film. I must see for anyone with a funny bone.
  • Be warned that this film has great comic dialogue delivered with fine timing by good actors, but if you are prissy about political correctness and hung up on "gender issues", it might discomfort you. But that's your problem, not the film's. Most viewers can just come aboard and enjoy the voyage, appreciating the comic situations and energetic pace. Grant and Curtis are in top form, playing their contrasting characters with skill. Virginia Gregg's and Arthur O'Connell's characters' love/hate relationship is a clever use of classic "gender issues" to elicit laughs and sympathy. The women in this film are more than just sexy ballast. In any case, as a great French comedian noted, "Vive la difference!" Relax, enjoy, and anchors aweigh.
  • World War 2 comedy about a submarine commander (Gary Grant , though Jeff Chandler was originally offered the role that went to Gary) teams with a cocky wheeler-dealer (Tony Curtis, though Bob Hope always said it was his biggest regret that he turned down this character), both of whom to make the sub seaworthy . Captain finds himself stuck with a decrepit (and pink) sub . The sub's commander experiences a certain amount of surprises at the unconventional methods used by his first lieutenant . They are joined by a group of army nurses (such as Nurse Barbara performed by Dina Merrill and Nurse Crandall played by Joan O'Brien , though Tina Louise was offered but turned down the role) whose lingerie is put to some unusual uses and the gags begin .

    Agreeable comedy set in Pacific Ocean during WWII with plenty of humor, laughters , tongue-in-cheek and results to be pretty funny , though some jokes may be considered sexist these days . Top-notch performance by two masters of comedy , as Gary Grant was his hero in the genre and likable acting by Tony Curtis as a con-man executive officer . Great teamwork from Grant and Curtis keep things rolling . The whole film is a happy and at times comic vehicle for its wonderful stars . However , Grant himself was at first reluctant to take his role , knowing he was much too old to play a wartime captain . Some of the plot points of the movie were based on real-life incidents . Most notable were scenes set at the opening of WW II, based on the actual sinking of the submarine USS Sealion , sunk at the pier at Cavite Navy Yard, the Philippines ; Cmdr. Sherman's letter to the supply department on the inexplicable lack of toilet paper, based on an actual letter to the supply department by Lt. Cmdr. James Coe of the submarine Skipjack ; and the need to paint a submarine pink, due to the lack of enough red lead or white lead undercoat paint . Later remade , as nurse Barbara interpreted by Dina Merrill, the love interest for Tony Curtis' character, was played in the 1977 remake by Curtis' daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis ; furthermore TV series .

    The motion picture was well directed by Blake Edwards , as he directs with good pace and enjoyable sense of humor . Blake is a classic comedy filmmaker and director of his own dialogue , there's no doubt he knows what he's about . His stories are amusing and well-realized though uneven , but thanks to Sellers many movies stand out . He had successes with ¨Pink Panther¨ series who became him a world-wide celebrity as ¨A shot in dark¨ , ¨Return of pink panther , ¨Revenge of pink panther¨ , ¨Curse of Pink Panther¨ , ¨Pink Panther strikes again¨ , ¨Trail of Pink Panther¨ , ¨Son of Pink Panther¨ , among others . Since then , there have been many more hit-and-miss comedies , some wildly unsuitable vehicles for his second wife Julie Andrews as ¨The Tamarind seed¨ , ¨Darling Lili¨, ¨SOB¨ , ¨10¨ , ¨That's life¨ . His greatest hits were ¨The party¨ , the travestite comedy ¨Victor/Victoria¨ and of course the joyously ¨Breakfast at Tiffany's ¨. The flick will appeal to Gary Grant and Tony Curtis fans . This is arguably one of the Blake Edwards' best . This consistently fun comedy deserves 'Two thumbs up' .
  • Operation Petticoat is yet another military farce directed by Blake Edwards. It is in pretty much the same military "farce" style that he used in other movies such as Operation Mad Ball, and What Did You Do In The War Daddy? He makes a thing as horrific and serious as the concept of war, and transforms it into something quite witty and jocose. Blake does this without causing any offense however, and therefore he did it well. Basically, the movie has an astonishing likeness to Down Periscope, or I should say that Down Periscope has a peculiar likeness to this movie. In essence, a naval submarine commander is given command over a broken down sub, and a motley, ragtag crew. The most rowdy crew member however, is the supply officer Lt. Holden. He displays a blatant disregard for rules, and yet still portrays as likable. Even more surprising is the fact that somehow, despite his various behaviors, Holden manages to get the job done and have some fun along the way.The commander encounters various "obstacles" because of his supply officer, but nothing that isn't purely entertaining. The commander is portrayed by Cary Grant, and Holden is played by Tony Curtis. Both Grant and Curtis do a fantastic job in this film, and play off of one another quite well. Grant, as you know, is an amazing actor, and has been in many classics like Arsenic and Old Lace, An Affair to Remember, North by Northwest, Only Angels Have Wings, To Catch A Thief, and The Bishop's Wife, just to name a few. This is a classic Grant performance, his style predictable, yet this litany is somehow appealing. Tony Curtis is also one of my favorite actors, at least in his older films. As of late, Curtis' movies have been losing a lot of their former luster. It's only one more reason that this light-hearted movie is enjoyable, seeing Curtis in one of his finer performances. I would put it right up there with his performances in movies such as Houdini, Spartacus, Some Like it Hot, not to mention the Boston Strangler, and Six Bridges to Cross. In some of their finer performances, Curtis and Grant dominate the film with their clever acting. However, the acting aside from Curtis and Grant was actually good, not specifically notable, but never was there a moment in which I was aware of bad acting. The only small exception was in some of the dialogue referring to women, in which the lines were rather cliché for war movies. Also, aside from the actors and directors of course, the camera work is as fine quality as it could have been. The musical score fit perfectly in with the style of the movie, and writing was well done on the parts of the writers; especially Maurice Richlin, who has worked with Blake on quite a few of his productions, including some of the Pink Panther movies, as well as the aforementioned, "Daddy What Did You Do In The War?" The situations that the writers came up with for a war scenario are ridiculous, but very entertaining. Overall, this is a higher quality film, and noteworthy in the long run. Despite this, it certainly was not amazing by any means. This movie in the end was a very appealing, satirical, and splendid production. A movie which is definitely worth a view, but not important to have seen.
  • cordaro941811 September 2008
    Though 'Gray Lady Down' is code for a downed sub, the boat itself doesn't play as big a part in the movie as one fears.

    The story of a WWII submarine crew looking to survive aboard their oft damaged ship moves briskly, with style and serves as a great war themed picture.

    Watching the crew work against the enemy, their own and the vessel itself is just some good fun.

    Teaming Tony Curtis with his film idol in Grant, the two have great chemistry and play wartime officers quite well, giving this comedy a battlefront appeal.

    Saturday afternoon fare, bring the popcorn but only take the bathroom break in case of emergency.
  • This movie is a wonderful example of a film that isn't particularly deep or important BUT that still works well because it's so much fun and the writing, though quirky, works. Of course I will admit that the plot from time to time gets really silly (culminating with the sub being painted pink and being forced to go that way into action). I guess it's just that this is a nice blend of acting by Cary Grant and Tony Curtis in a cute little war picture that ALMOST makes WWII look kind of fun. The end result is charming and silly and worth watching but with no real meaning or significance at all--and is that always such a bad thing?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Cute and amusing. Cary Grant is the skipper of a submarine stuck in a remote Phillipine base at the beginning of World War II. Damaged in an air attack, the submarine barely gets under way, with Tony Curtis as a dapper last-minute replacement who shows up for duty in natty and immaculate dress whites. Curtis is a born social climber. He is also, however, a born thief and Grant appoints him Supply Officer for the boat.

    In some funny scenes, accompanied by some clever dialog, Curtis manages to steal enough supplies from various depots to keep the boat going. He also steals such luxuries as toilet paper and a pig for a New Year's luau. At one such wayside stop he manages to pick up five stranded Army nurses, one of them being the hypermastic Joan O'Brian.

    You can pretty much predict the gags that will follow -- five beautiful women aboard a submarine with a crew of horny young men. The men make a point of squeezing past O'Brian in the narrow passageways at every opportunity. The Chief Motor Mac improvises a piece of machinery out of somebody's girdle. Curtis gives up his dream of marrying his rich girl friend back in the states when he falls for the elegant, blond Dina Merril (who, in real life, probably had a fatter portfolio than Curtis's fictional girl friend). Cary Grant falls for O'Brian and after the war we see both couples, now friends, with Grant an admiral and Curtis the skipper of the submarine, a dedicated navy man.

    Some of the jokes now seem dated, the current Zeitgeist being what it is. An officer showing the nurses around the boat is embarrassed and stutters fiercely while trying to tell them that the loo is called "the head." On the whole, though, the film is disarming enough to be pretty funny. Grant is fine in this light comedy. He grumbles a good deal at the disorder brought to his command, as if practicing for his later "Father Goose," but he's done this so often that he could have done it all in his sleep. Tony Curtis is often criticized for his "mannerisms" but I don't know why. He's very good indeed at this sort of thing. He knows how to deliver a gag line without dwelling on it, almost running over it, so that if it's a clunker the viewer hardly notices. He's convincing in expository dialog as well and usually brings something fresh to his lines. He could do drama too, and better than Grant.

    The submarine winds up being painted pink. It is attacked by an American destroyer (DD 568, which should be USS Wren) and Grant desperately sends up the nurses' underwear. The destroyer picks up some of the "debris" and the captain holds Joan O'Brian's brassiere up, staring at the capacious thing, and mutters, "The Japanese have nothing like this." You may or may not think you'll get a kick out of it, but you probably will.
  • Curtis does turn in a strong romantic lead performance in this movie, probably one of his best, and does come very close to eclipsing Grant. However, for me the greater laughs were watching Grant's hand-to-nurse, umm, hand-to-hand tactics against the young woman Curtis sics on him early in the film. Somehow, as competent a nurse as she appears in the rest of the films, she becomes all thumbs around Grant.

    Ah, yes, then there is the immortal line: "We just sank a truck!"
  • Blake Edwards in his prime, at his best, Operation Petticoat moves from one hilarious situation to the next, with excellent performances by an all-star cast.

    Cary Grant's Cmdr. Sherman plays straight man to Tony Curtis' Nick Holden and i'ts here where Grant displays all the qualities that made him one of Hollywood's biggest stars.

    The supporting cast is excellent, including, for you classic US TV fans, `Captain Steubing' (Gavin McLeod), `Darrin Stevens (II)' (Dick Sargent), and `Marion Cunningham' (Marion Ross).

    Maybe the funniest movie ever made, who knows?
  • I decided to watch this film because I love Cary Grant and eventually I want to see every film he made. Unfortunately, this one isn't even nearly one of his best. Far too much of the humor relies on the audience buying into those wonderful 1950's female stereotypes. I mean, we have female army officers, nurses, acting like silly little girls. It's quite revolting. In other words, far from being a classic, the film feels like an unintelligent, unenlightened piece of pop trash. Compare this to another Cary Grant film that came out the same year, North by Northwest; or Tony Curtis's Some Like it Hot which also came out in 1959. On an intellectual and artistic level, Operation Petticoat doesn't begin to come close.
  • OPERATION PETTICOAT is a submarine comedy which, in a tasteful way, examines the relationship between "aggressive" sailors and military nurses during the service.

    A US submarine was, after an air raid, badly damaged and anchored near Manila. The captain of the submarine and his crew begin repairs, hoping to sail for Darwin, Australia before the Japanese overrun the port. One lieutenant was, despite the lack of training or experience, assigned to serve on the submarine. He shows, in addition to the obvious lack of discipline, great skill in procurement of necessary materials for repairs on the submarine. The submarine is finally "ready" for an unusual trip, which, among other things, involves a funny evacuation of five attractive Army nurses...

    Hormones are raging in limited space. Young nurses have seriously undermined discipline and functionality of the crew. This romantic game, through a slight sexual tension, is quite fun. However, this mess, after a while, becomes monotonous and boring. Everything is too "pink" in this film.

    Cary Grant as Lieutenant Commander Matthew T. "Matt" Sherman was faced with two problems at the same time. These problems can not be solved through official channels. Mr. Grant is perhaps too indulgent for a captain in this film. A resistance in his character is actually a shameful lie. Tony Curtis as Lieutenant Nicholas "Nick" Holden is a man of ideas. However, each of his ideas has a price. He and Mr. Grant are maybe too similar. They were hooked up with two blondes at the end.

    This is a charming and funny comedy, in which, regardless of the circumstances, we do not need to look for some meaning or significance.
  • This is one of my very favorite movies. I now own the DVD, but have watched it who knows how many times since childhood.

    "Operation Petticoat" never fails to make me laugh. I don't have to give a synopsis here, since so many viewers before have summed it up nicely, but I wanted to throw in my two cents.

    This movie is a perfect illustration of the notion that funny and filthy are not necessarily synonymous. Parents can watch this movie with their children and not be afraid of what their children are hearing or seeing. The writers have produced a script that is funny, without pandering to the lowest common denominator. The humor is a cut above, but easily understood by most viewers.

    Other viewers have rightly praised Cary Grant's and Tony Curtis' performances. However, there are some other gems, not the least of which is Arthur O'Connell as the machinist's mate. "Have a piece of pig, Major." Gavin MacLeod as the beleaguered clerk, Hunkle; Dick Sergeant's Ensign Stovall; and George Dunn as the Prophet, singing his plaintive tune "You can't win, my friend" and predicting the early demise of Lt. Holden as they go scrounging for supplies.

    It doesn't matter how low I'm feeling--this movie gives me a lift. It does not gloss over the deadly seriousness of war, but does show the truth that funny things often happen in the midst of the greatest chaos. In fact, to quote Nick Holden, "In confusion, there is profit." And a great deal of laughter.
  • Tomi-1316 July 2000
    This is one of the movies I still remember even though I saw this when I was something like ten years old. That would be about fifteen years ago.

    A very funny movie, provides some good laughs for the technically interested and shows how a war movie can be funny. I would watch it again.
  • blanche-223 January 2007
    "Operation Petticoat" brings Tony Curtis and his idol, Cary Grant, together for a very funny film directed by Blake Edwards. Curtis, of course, does a great Cary Grant impression in "Some Like it Hot," and working with Grant was a dream come true for the 34-year-old actor. And nothing about the experience disappointed him or the audience. The film also features Dina Merrill, Gene Evans, Dick Sargent, Arthur O'Connell, Madelyn Rhue, Virginia Gregg and Marion Ross.

    The film is shown in flashback as the submarine Sea Tiger is about to be junked. Grant, as Lt. Cmdr. Matt Sherman, looks at his log book and reminisces to a time when he was trying to get the Sea Tiger back into the war after his sub is nearly destroyed in an air raid. However, it is next to impossible to get supplies. Assigned as a replacement officer to the Sea Tiger is one Mr. Holden (Curtis), a wheeler-dealer who got into uniform so he could meet the right people. Though he maneuvered a country club job as an aide to an admiral planning to go to Manila, the war intervened, and the admiral cancels his plans. Holden gets the Sea Tiger assignment. He promises that he can get supplies and presents one of his band of merry men, Ramon Gallardo, a prisoner whom he promises can travel on the sub. "But he's a Marine," Sherman objects. "There isn't a thief, pickpocket, or fence in the islands that doesn't know, love, and respect him," Holden answers. Holden gets supplies by any means necessary, including taking pipes from the bathrooms, part of the major's office wall, etc. He also manages to rescue five nurses who were stranded on an island, disrupting the entire sub. Though he finally confines Holden to quarters, Sherman realizes soon enough that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and calls on Holden for help again.

    "Operation Petticoat" has some hilarious moments, including Holden's stealing of a pig for New Year's dinner and the subsequent confrontation with the owner and military police on the sub, where Sherman and Holden refer to the pig as "Hornsby." Unable to get the right color paint, the sub is painted pink and nearly bombed by a U.S. ship.

    Cary Grant is wonderful as the commander, authoritative, and then authoritative but frazzled as he is haunted by one of the nurses, a Jonah (Joan O'Brien) who causes disaster for him whenever she shows up. Tony Curtis is equally good, and he does not play the role for comedy; rather, he has the comedy come out of the character - a former street kid, ambitious to marry money, with his own agenda in the Navy.

    The rest of the cast is very good, with pretty Dina Merrill being the love interest for Curtis, only to learn that he's already engaged to a wealthy woman. Arthur O'Connell is funny as the frustrated mechanic as nurse Heywood insists on helping him run the ship, at one point using a girdle to connect some of the parts.

    "Operation Petticoat" is a real treat - a very funny film with good direction, script and acting all around.
  • I just watched this movie for about the 40th time and bless me if I didn't spot something I'd never noticed before. When the nurses first come on board, the Joan O'Brien character gets her left heel stuck in the deck and Cary Grant pulls it out. A moment later she attempts to climb the conning tower and he advises her to take off her other shoe, which she does. Only the "other shoe" is her left shoe, which Grant had apparently removed a moment earlier.

    I'm not sure how much more I can write about this film. By way of noticing things I'd never noticed before, I noticed that Marion Ross played the fifth nurse, although she only had four or five lines. I thought that was quite a coincidence, see as I am Tivoing old episodes of the Gilmore Girls (I never watched it when it first came out) and Marion Ross played Lorelai the First (Lorelai's grandmother) in that show. Considering forty or more years had gone by, she looked remarkably the same.
  • An hilarious comedy with a much higher gag quota than I was expecting.

    Very little actually happens in terms of the plot: they repair the sub, they pick up some women en route to another port where they make further repairs, escape from an air raid and fall foul of an American destroyer in the final minutes. But it's the dialogue that matters, and the interplay between Cary Grant and Tony Curtis, the men and the women. These dynamics prove fertile comedy ground, and are mined for everything they're worth without ever overdoing it or becoming silly.

    The film looks fantastic. One of those where the full weight of military cooperation is evident on the screen, with planes flying low overhead, naval destroyers dropping dozens of depth charges in the spectacular climax, and an unexpected level of detail in some of the external shots of the sub. The resultant location shooting means the film is a lot less studio-bound than similar films of the era. Talking of the sub, I don't know if the interiors were shot on a real sub - I doubt there'd be room - but it feels very authentic and realistic.

    Most of the best material stems from Curtis' attempts to procure supplies for the sub, with the best scene in the film being the theft of a pig and the ensuing cover up. It's a riotous few minutes and as funny as anything I've seen in a film made in the '50s.
  • The message Cary Grant, in complete frustration at red tape, requisitions toilet paper for the Sea Tiger is almost word for word from an actual sardonically-toned requisition from a USS sub commander in WWII to HQ (CINCPAC). I don't have the book nearby, but in "Submarine", Commander Edward L. Beach (of "Run Silent, Run Deep" fame) recounts the famous incident.

    After this Skipper's message was received, he got his toilet paper. More than he may have expected. Every time thereafter that his sub returned to Pearl Harbor from patrol, instead of the mounds of meat, fruit, and ice cream that greeted the sequestered crews of other returning subs at the dock, there were disappointingly only mounds of rolls of toilet paper.

    Some viewers may see a double entendre in the context of the film where ladies are aboard on a pink submarine. Edwards and Blatty probably were also aware of this because sexual innuendoes abound in the film - and might I say in good taste - although in their other later collaborations, the taste may have gotten lost on a few occasions.

    But, do appreciate that an older USS sub (SS-23? 22? 21? 20? etc...) undergoing retrofit in the US Navy around December 1941 in the South Pacific did have a rust colored primer coat applied to it prior to its final coat of gray.

    However, after Pearl Harbor, the finishing gray paint became unavailable or the sub had no time to have the finishing coat applied, and had to enter war service with only its primer coat. Because of the rusty color of the primer, it often looked pink, especially in grand Pacific sunsets. Therefore, you actually had a US sub on patrol in the early days of WWII that was, in effect, pink.

    Blake Edwards also knew the Navy because he served in it during WWII. The characters, Sherman and Holden, Cary Grant and Tony Curtis respectively, might just be akin to Edwards' alter egos since Blake was in the fight as a swab jockey.

    Extra stuff: Crews on USS subs were "hand-picked" for their advanced aptitude in engineering and mechanics. Collectively, on one US sub in WWII, you probably had quite a few geniuses in service. Each man could operate any function on the boat should one have become incapacitated. They CYA'd very well. "Pig Boats" is another great book to learn of the US Silent Service during WWII.

    "Through Hell and Deep Water" recounts the contributions of a Texas-bred submarine skipper to the Pacific campaign. Sam Dealey was renowned for his "down the throat" torpedo kills of Japanese destroyers, a major plot point in the film version of "Run Silent, Run Deep".

    Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas was named after the family from which Sam Dealey was a member. Unfortunately, the main legacy of the name Dealey now relates to the location of the assassination of an American President, not to Sam's Silent Service.

    At highest rank an XO on the first "Trigger", Beach's sub was also retroactively fitted with an ice cream maker by some of its crew. In those years, ice cream was a most cherished commodity in American society.

    A strange phenomenon would actually occur to some US crews of sunken vessels and left adrift for days asea. After their boats had been sunk, having been drifting in the merciless sun of the Pacific, air-blasted with sea salt, and suffering from hypothermia in Pacific warm waters still lower than their own body temperature, some sailors would begin hallucinating of mirages of islands made of ice cream, and set a swimming course to them. Some of their less-affected, but still exhausted, mates would try to stop them, but weakness prevented any action. These young sailors would swim to the mirage of ice cream, and eventually disappeared with it.
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