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Directed by Blake Edwards from a screenplay by Stanley Shapiro and Maurice Richlin screenplay, Operation Petticoat (1959) was supposed to be a studio picture costing about a million dollars and shot in black and white. Maurice Richlin explained, "The first choice of romantic comedy writers was Cary Grant. When Cary said yes, the budget jumped to more than three million (a lot in those days) and went into color creating the now famous "pink sub".With a slight touch of anarchy and a complete disregard for authority, Operation Petticoat rates a perfect ten in the genre of service comedies.
Grant plays Admiral Matt Sherman, Commander of the submarine U.S.S. Seat Tiger, which is stationed in the Philippines at the beginning of World War II. Joining him is Nick Holden (Tony Curtis), as his conniving junior officer. The story is narrated by Grant, reading selected logs to us from the U.S.S. Sea Tiger captain's journal, a gimmick that was later used in the TV series, Star Trek.
But the serious tone quickly gives way to mirth as the commander gets caught up in a bureaucratic investigation of toilet paper requisitions while his crew torpedo a bus on dry land and stop to pick up a small group of sexy nurses being evacuated from a local island.
Not only was Operation Petticoat a hit with critics and audiences alike but the film made Grant a rich man. He owned "a piece of the action" and according to the Guiness Book of World Records, the film made him the highest paid actor in the business at the time of the film's release. Operation Petticoat was to take in $8 million at the box office and to bring Grant almost $3 million as his percentage of the profits, more than he had ever made from a film before.
During the film shoot a highly publicized article on Grant's LSD usage came to light. Grant attended weekly counseling sessions with a psychiatrist, which included doses of the drug. Grant opened himself up to journalist Joe Hyams as he had never before with any journalist and described his experience with LSD. The article appeared in the New York Herald Tribune and the subsequent publicity convinced Grant to never be as candid with a reporter ever again.
Director: Blake Edwards
Producer: Robert Arthur
Screenplay: Stanley Shapiro, Maurice Richlin; from a story suggested by Paul King and Joseph Stone
Cinematography: Russell Harlan, Clifford Stine
Editor: Ted Kent, Frank Gross
Cast: Cary Grant (Commander Matt Sherman), Tony Curtis (Lieutenant Nick Holden), Joan O'Brien (Nurse Dolores Crandell), Dina Merrill (Nurse Barbara Duran), Arthur O'Connell (Tostin), Gavin MacLeod (Hunkle).
C-121m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Celia Reilly