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Monday, December 29, 2014

Operation Petticoat (1959)

During WWII, the commander (Cary Grant) of a barely navigable submarine heading for a port to undergo repairs is forced to evacuate five Army nurses from a Pacific island. From then on, he must deal with finding necessary supplies, avoiding any Japanese attack and the sexual tension between his crew and the female nurses. I'm a huge fan of director Blake Edwards' comedies but this one hasn't aged well at all. It plays like a typical TV sitcom (think MCHALE'S NAVY) and its often sexist, snickery humor would be borderline offensive if they weren't so juvenile. It's the era when just uttering the word girdle would get a giggle. We're also supposed to find it amusing when Tony Curtis as a Lieutenant in charge of scavenging for supplies steals a pig from a poor Filipino farmer for the ship's New Years dinner. Grant and Curtis and the other actors all give it their best and their professionalism overrides a multitude of sins. That its screenplay (by Stanley Shapiro and Maurice Richlin) actually received an Oscar nomination for its script indicates how far we've come in the cinematic sense. Also in the cast: Dina Merrill, Arthur O'Connell, Joan O'Brien, Gene Evans, Madlyn Rhue, Gavin MacLeod, Virginia Gregg, Dick Sargent, Marion Ross and Robert Gist.

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