Directed by Blake Edwards (USA 1959; 124 mins. in English)
In classic 50s comedic charm, Blake Edwards directs Hollywood royals Cary Grant and Tony Curtis as an honorable commander and conniving junior officer in Operation Petticoat.
Jinx and bad luck plague the USS Sea Tiger, a soon-to-be decommissioned submarine, at the Battle of the Philippines. When a Japanese air raid damages the boat, the crew cobbles her back together (with the help of a spell from a local witch doctor) just well enough to sail towards a safe port.
Antics abound on Edwards’ seas, and the Tiger picks up five evacuating Army nurses, pregnant women, and even a goat. In an attempt to hide their guest-filled sub from the enemy, the crew uses what’s left of the paint supply, accidentally turning the entire boat into a pink flamingo hazard, a target for very confused Japanese forces as well as American ones.
At first glance, it might seem like Operation Petticoat would fail today’s sexual politics standards. But Edwards’ subversive wit always comes with a feminist touch. And the beloved (yes, ogled) Army Nurses have such remarkable skill and strength of character that their brains and brawn save the day, making them the USS Sea Tiger’s (and Operation Petticoat’s) most valuable sailors.
The cast also includes Joan O’Brien (The Alamo), Dina Merrill (The Sundowners), Gene Evans (Hell and High Water), Marion Ross (Happy Days), and Dick Sargent (TV’s Bewitched). Jamie Lee Curtis (Tony Curtis’ daughter) starred in the TV show Operation Petticoat based on the film.
Prints of Operation Petticoat are incredibly hard to find, so even under normal circumstances it would be almost impossible to program in a theater. However, today it is available to view Amazon Prime and Vudu.