Cast & Crew
Roy Del Ruth
After eight months at sea, women-hungry sailors in a submarine docking for repairs at New York Harbor anticipate thirty days of shore leave. One sailor, Choir Boy Jones, has just read a book about investing and suggests that the sailors invest their back pay, instead of wasting it on women. Hoping to double their money overnight, and have more to spend for twenty-nine days, the sailors delegate Jones and his friends, Twitch and Porky, to invest their money. The three sailors proceed to a brokerage carrying $50,000 in a gunnysack. In the lobby, they overhear a commotion in stockbroker B. P. Morrow's office, where theatrical producer Joe Woods is pitching his new musical comedy, while Penny Weston, an unknown lead in the show, sings and dances for the exasperated Morrow. As Woods and Penny are escorted off the premises, the insulted Woods yells accusations of mismanagement, which the gullible Jones takes seriously.
Outside, Jones asks Woods to explain, but seeing money in the sailors' sack, Woods takes the sailors to his rehearsal space, which is located in a busy parking garage. There, dancers rehearse and the author, Melvyn Webster, coaches Emilio Rossi, an overrated opera star who has been cast as the male lead for name recognition. Hearing Woods explain to the sailors that the show is about the Navy, Melvyn realizes that the producer has again made changes to his autobiographical, dramatic play to suit the whims of investors. When Woods pushes Jones to sign a contract, Jones, who is an excellent singer, wants to hear the songs and read the script first. Woods secretly asks Penny to help convince the sailors, but she is reluctant to take advantage of the sailors' naïveté. However, Jones is already infatuated with her and sneaks her into the submarine to get the approval of the other sailors.
Days later, the three sailors, who are now Broadway backers, assist with menial labor. Rossi is still bungling his lines, so Porky, who often makes up skits with Jones and Twitch to relieve shipboard boredom, demonstrates how to play the scene more comically. Unimpressed, Rossi demands that the scene be cut. When the troupe travels to Boston for try-outs, Penny feels guilty about her part in risking the sailors' money and tries to prepare the excited Jones for all possibilities. However, Jones feels betrayed after the reviewers pan the show. Penny was praised by the reviewers, but Rossi's poor performance was ridiculed, causing him to quit in a huff. Soon after, Melvyn also walks out. Despite these problems, Woods prepares to salvage the show and searches for new backers. Twitch, who is a talented dancer, and Porky fill in where needed.
The discouraged Jones returns to the sub, until a workman, who claims that anything can be fixed, inspires him to return to the theater. After convincing some Marines to put up money for the show, Jones buys out Woods's half and confidently takes on rewriting and directing. However, he treats Penny brusquely, explaining that he has learned not to mix personal and show business. Seeing that Jones's naïve efforts are creating a flop, Penny, with Twitch and Porky's help, gets George Abbott, Moss Hart and Ira Gershwin to give them free advice. After watching a rehearsal, the three show business giants make several suggestions, including, as an exploitation angle, having the talented Jones, Twitch and Porky perform in the show. When the show later opens in New York at the Knickerbocker Theatre as Three Sailors and a Girl , starring Penny as "The Navy Girl," it is a smash hit and one reviewer says that Abbott, Hart and Gershwin could not have done better.
Taking full credit, Jones plans to change careers, but the annoyed Penny, Twitch and Porky remind him that Abbott, Hart and Gershwin were responsible for the success. A lawyer, A. J. Patterson, who claims to represent original backers solicited by Woods, shows up threatening a lawsuit to reclaim his clients' investments. However, Woods also appears and Penny tricks him into buying back the show for $200,000, saying truthfully that Jones is due back on the submarine that night. Wanting to be honest, Jones returns to tell Woods about Patterson, but finds that the producer is expertly handling the lawyer, whom he has recognized as a swindler. Penny and Jones make up, and that evening, having quadrupled their submarine mates' investment, the three sailors make their final appearance in the show.
Roy Del Ruth
Veda Ann Borg
Jack E. Leonard
Phil Van Zandt
Guy E. Hearn
G. W. Berntsen
Charles H. Clarke
Leslie G. Hewitt
Mitchell G. Kovaleski
Leo K. Kuter
Three Sailors and a Girl
Three Sailors and a Girl
The film ends with an appearance by Burt Lancaster, portraying a Marine who wants to take over the lead role in the show, but who is turned down by Sam Levene as "Joe Woods," who thinks he looks too much like "some actor." In real life, Lancaster's acting career reportedly began when he returned from combat with Special Services after World War II, and was mistaken for an actor by a producer, who asked him to read for a part. According to a December 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item, Jane Powell was borrowed from M-G-M. Although he is not credited onscreen, early production charts list Charles H. Clarke as the art director.
According to a February 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item, dancers in the film included Lee Bergquist, Violet Cane, Evelyn Cedar, Dorinda Clifton, twins Jean and Joan Corbett, Bonnie Henjum, January Hollar, Wendy Howard, Nolie Miller and Winona Smith. Hollywood Reporter news items add Dale Clark and Michael Smith to the cast. Their appearance and the appearance of the dancers in the final film has not been confirmed. Three Sailors and a Girl marked the film debut of nightclub comic Jack E. Leonard. The film opened on the West coast at the San Diego Naval Hospital on December 18, 1953. For information on the many films based on George S. Kaufman's play The Butter and Egg Man, see the entry for the 1932 Warner Bros. production Tenderfoot in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40.