Operation Petticoat (1959)

BLAKE EDWARDS

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

USA, 1959. . Screenplay by , , suggested by a story by , . Cinematography by . Produced by . Music by . Production Design by , . Costume Design by . Film Editing by , . Academy Awards 1959. Golden Globe Awards 1959.

Bouncy, episodic comedy by Blake Edwards, one of the many films to set lighthearted situations in World War II (imagine South Pacific without the songs) before television would do the same in the coming decade.  Cary Grant plays the captain of a submarine that he can’t let go of, insisting on sailing it across the Pacific Ocean even after it has been attacked by Japanese planes.  The army assigns him Tony Curtis as executive officer, whose procurement talents are a step above cat burglary and come in very handy very quickly: the parts they need to make the sub seaworthy are on shore in the U.S. army supply yard and Curtis and two cohorts expertly steal them in the dead of night.  During their journey to Cebu, they stop at a small island where a group of army nurses have been stranded and take them on board, leading to non-stop hijinks as the mostly male crew tries to keep their heads when there are such gorgeous women in close quarters.  Arranging a shower and bathroom schedule is one thing, but keeping Curtis out of ‘s hair or Arthur O’Connell and away from each other is quite something else.   Other jokey situations include accidentally painting the submarine pink and nearly getting bombed by their own army thinking they’re a Japanese decoy (which leads to a deus-ex-lingerie).  Co-written by romantic comedy mastermind Stanley Shapiro (the same year he won an Oscar for Pillow Talk), this one doesn’t have the genius manipulations of his best plots, it isn’t about folding clever and unlikely situations into each other, but rather enjoys a leisurely pace through its many comedic situations that are all pleasant to bear thanks to the bright cinematography and gorgeous cast.

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