Today I just found out there was an Operation Petticoat TV series in the late 70s. It only ran for two seasons, from 1977-1979, and in the second season they replaced the entire cast. Initially, my memory of the movie was an extremely vague one that had me thinking I may have seen it, which is why I wanted to review it, but in light of discovering it was turned into a series, I wonder if I may have been thinking of that rather than the movie. I saw the flick last night and none of it looked familiar. And for some reason I kept thinking Barbara Eden from I Dream Of Jeannie (1965-1970) was in it. She wasn’t, but there were three actors from three other TV series in it, Gavin MacLeod from The Love Boat (1977-1987), Marion Ross from Happy Days (1974-1984) and Dick Sargent from Bewitched (1964-1972). Eden was in a different submarine movie, Irwin Allen’s Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea (1961). I don’t know, I can’t shake the feeling I saw Operation Petticoat, or at least, some part of it, when I was a kid. At any rate, I enjoyed the movie last night and will be adding it to my collection.
The movie is told in flashback as this naval submarine, the USS Sea Tiger, is about to be retired to a scrapyard, but its former Lieutenant Commander Matt Sherman (Cary Grant), now a Rear Admiral, wants to have one last moment alone with it to recollect through a logbook a particular time during World War II when he took on this Lieutenant (junior grade) Nick Holden (Tony Curtis) and all the experiences they had afterward. This is a Blake Edwards comedy, more like a romantic comedy in some respects, so no one dies.
This particular moment in Sherman and Holden’s history begins when the sub is attacked by enemy planes while at port and is severely damaged. Right now Holden has yet to join the crew, but Sherman simply wants to get the sub seaworthy enough to make it to Cebu where it can get fixed properly. Some of Sherman’s crew has been reassigned due to the perceived irreparable damage to the sub, and Holden is reassigned, by mistake it looked, to the Sea Tiger. Holden was previously an Admiral’s aide, and has no real experience, or business really being in the Navy. He plays things fast and loose. Yeah, he’s that kind of guy, and is supposedly engaged to this rich girl back home. He becomes an asset when Sherman makes him the supply officer because he can scavenge and get supplies through means that aren’t quite on the book. In the beginning, when they need to get needed supplies that are off limits, Holden, and two other crewmembers, break into the warehouse and get them.
Sherman pretty much learns to accept this. The next big event in their journey is taking aboard five Army nurses, and women on subs are bad luck. Two of these nurses become love interests for Sherman and Holden. Second Lieutenant Dolores Crandall (Joan O’Brien), the clumsy one who’s responsible for shooting off a torpedo before it was ready and blowing up a truck ends up being Sherman’s wife years later, and Second Lieutenant Barbara Duran (Dina Merrill), ends up becoming the wife of Holden, and they have two sons, but we don’t see these revelations until the movie returns to present day and Holden, Duran and Crandall show up for the subs decommissioning ceremony, Holden is also now a Captain.
There’s a really good extra that has Cary Grant’s biographer recounting some of Grant’s life up to when he accepted the Operation Petticoat role and he describes the movie as a kind of bromance flick between Sherman and Holden. You could take out Tony Curtis and put in a chick and it would work almost the same way. It’s a fun movie, and the second Blake Edwards flick I’ve reviewed, the other being S.O.B. (1981). In fact I didn’t realize this was a Blake Edwards film until a few days ago when I was paying attention to the credits on the back of the disc. I’ve loved most of Edward’s comedies.
Operation Petticoat has had three former disc releases, a standard DVD back in 2001 from Republic Pictures and a DVD re-release and blu-ray from Olive Films in 2014. All these releases were barebones, but Olive started a new line called, Olive Signature, and blu-rays under this banner are remastered and loaded with extras. This Operation Petticoat blu I’m reviewing is an Olive Signature edition slated for release on November 28! You can buy it here on Amazon or at Best Buy!
Disc comes in a one of them deluxe slipcases; front and back pictured on each end below.
REVERSE ART (below)
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.85:1 high definition widescreen—English DTS-HD Master Audio (stereo)—English subs only
The new transfer looks gorgeous!
Extras included . . .
- Audio Commentary By Critic Adrian Martin
- “That’s What Everybody Says About Me” – with Jennifer Edwards and actress Lesley Ann Warren (11:28)
- “The Brave Crew of the Petticoat” – with actors Gavin MacLeod and Marion Ross (20:09)
- “The Captain and His Double: Cary Grant’s Struggle of the Self” – with Marc Eliot, author of Cary Grant: A Biography (28:40)
- Universal Newsreel footage of Cary Grant and the opening of Operation Petticoat at the Radio City Music Hall (4:04)
- Archival footage of the submarine USS Balao, which doubled as the USS Sea Tiger in Operation Petticoat (17:09)
- Essay by critic Chris Fujiwara
An excellent batch of extras Olive put together for this release! I enjoyed all of them, especially the one about Grant’s life. I always enjoy biographical featurettes.
Note: The ‘Essay By critic Chris Fujiwara’ is an onscreen duplication of what the included booklet is. Included, I suppose, for those who don’t want to read the essay on printed material.