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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Lieutenant Wore Skirts (1956)

When the wife (Sheree North) of a TV writer (Tom Ewell) believes her husband is about to be recalled into the Air Force, she enlists in the Air Force too so they can be together. Unfortunately, her husband fails his physical but she is now a WAF! The director Frank Tashlin has a genuine knack for visual and physical comedy but the formulaic screenplay he has to work from doesn't give him much opportunity to do what he does best. The film is dated in its attitude of male and female relationships. The hook here is a gender reversal with North in the Air Force and Ewell as the househusband in the flower apron taking care of the home. It's 1956 and the idea of the man staying home while the wife works was still considered unnatural. The image of Ewell in an apron doing laundry must have been hilarious to 1956 audiences but it's more of a reality in 2014. The lovely and talented Sheree North was placed under contract at Fox as replacement for their top star Marilyn Monroe if she gave them a hard time. Ironically, the Monroe sexpot role here isn't played by North but by Rita Moreno as the "girl upstairs" referencing Monroe's role in SEVEN YEAR ITCH which also co-starred Ewell. Also in the cast: Rick Jason, Jean Willes, Les Tremayne, Edward Platt and Leslie Parrish.

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