Spring of Cary: Operation Petticoat

Operation Petticoat poster
Promotional poster

Thank you, Lisa (over at Boondock Ramblings) for suggesting this film! I was a little hesitant at first – I think watching Das Boot in high school “3scarred” me for life. (The sadder thing is, I don’t even remember if I watched it for my US History class or German class! I tend to think it was US History, but I do remember that it ran in German with English subtitles.)

Erin from Cracker Crumb Life is always instrumental in these as well.

At its core, Operation Petticoat is a comedy. That being said the backdrop to the movie is deadly serious, but the juxtaposition works.

The movie is told as a memory, and the present day frames the beginning and the end. Grant plays Captain Sherman (later Lt. Commander Sherman) who can’t stand seeing an almost new vessel get scrapped due to it not being near a facility with the ability to fix it. If that weren’t bad enough, from that point on, it seems that everything that can go wrong, does, and then some, starting with Lieutenant (junior grade) Nick Holden (Tony Curtis) getting assigned to the ship. Sherman is a Navy man, does everything by the book, and Holden, despite his rank, hasn’t even been on a ship. Sherman regards him at first as being a pretty boy who has made his rank by kissing up to the right people, but it turns out that Holden has talent for a lot of things, some of which may even be legal.

One of the things I appreciated were the shots that really demonstrated how tight the spaces are on a sub. I’ve toured a couple in my life, and the captain’s quarters always look so nice, but a submarine really is the definition of “close quarters”.

Of course, for the men, it’s not a big deal, as they’re used to it, but then they take on a group of five nurses who have been stranded by a Japanese raid that destroyed the airstrip needed to leave the island where they were. And then the space feels so much tighter!

operation petticoat tight quarters

From there, things get even weirder, and that’s the crux of the comedy here. I have the feeling like the film could have been a disaster, had they gone the route of trying to make it more of a Gilligan’s Island type comedy, but Grant was masterful in his role, and as implausible as the whole scenario got to be, he was the pillar that really kept the film from being a circus.

Looking up information about the film, it was the 3rd biggest movie of 1959. At that time, a lot of people still remembered WWII well, and even with the fantastical elements, had they done this poorly, I don’t think it would have been nearly this popular.

One thing, though… Among the nurses, there is one who is older, and who I would have guessed to maybe be pushing 50, and at one point, she says that she’s 38… 38!!! Crazy!

I’m in the middle of getting ready for another visit from the electrician tomorrow, so this is probably shorter than most of the film reviews I’ve posted. I liked this an awful lot, though, and I’m glad Lisa suggested it.

(I watched this movie using Pluto.tv, which is free, but had a couple commercials every ten minutes or so. It wasn’t too bad, but I think I might actually get this DVD because I liked the film so much.)

Update: I just watched it for a second time – wow – a lot of the lines are great! And Dick Sargent (of Betwitched! fame).

Lisa’s review can be found here: https://lisahoweler.com/2023/05/18/spring-of-cary-operation-petticoat/ and Erin’s take can be found here: https://crackercrumblife.com/2023/05/22/the-spring-of-cary-grant-operation-petticoat/

dore canto 31 white rose

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8 thoughts on “Spring of Cary: Operation Petticoat

  1. I loved this line: “Grant was masterful in his role, and as implausible as the whole scenario got to be, he was the pillar that really kept the film from being a circus.” Yes! That’s exactly it. I’m so glad you liked it. I keep forgetting to check out PlutoTV for these. We had this one on DVD and we have the next two as well. Glad you jumped in this week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, I totally forgot that I wrote that until I updated the post with Erin’s link! Eep… Granted, I did write it in a hurry, intending to post it the Thursday before, but… Wow. My mind must really be overloaded! Your response reminded me of Michael Caine in A Muppet Christmas Carol. The movie worked because Caine played Scrooge completely straight, despite all the muppets running around with their bits of comedy!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been soooo bad at posting these past few weeks. My mom is finally moved and I hope that signals a slow down over here.

    I enjoyed the accuracy of the tightness of quarters. It was so accurate in fact, that it was almost hard for me to watch, if I thought about it too much. Being so closed in like that would make me lose my mind! Billy’s uncle is retired Navy and spent much of his life on nuclear subs. He told us stories about being under the Arctic, which sounds horrific to me.

    Overall, I enjoyed this movie way more than I thought I would!

    Liked by 2 people

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