Spring of Cary: Operation Petticoat

For Spring Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumb, Kajta of Breath of Hallelujah, and I have been watching and writing about Cary Grant movies. I always add this disclaimer: the movies we watched were chosen because I had never seen them before, not because they are his best. I was trying to watch movies of his I had not seen so thought I’d do a challenge similar to my Summer of Paul last summer.

Now, with that disclaimer out of the way, last week we delayed writing about Operation Petticoat because Erin and I both had busy weeks and felt frazzled. We found out later that Katja also had a weird week so that worked out well.

Okay, now back to the movie, which is a comedy and that is really what I needed last week and still need this week. I find it surprising that this movie, out of all of Cary’s movies was actually the highest grossing of his career at $9.3 million. It was extremely popular when it was released in 1959 and is still considered the highest-grossing comedy of all time. Crazy, right?

Anyhow, we open with Cary Grant in a naval officer’s uniform.

This is actually a photograph from the end, but close enough.

At this point, I pause and sigh as I admire the view. I pause the film for a moment and sigh again.

In a world where men are being feminized more and more, it is refreshing to see a real man looking like a real man in uniform. Again, in case you don’t understand what I am saying, he does look nice in a uniform.

Now, on with the show.

Cary is an admiral in the Navy in the beginning of the movie. He’s gone back to a submarine that he was once the captain of. He finds his way to the captain’s cabin and waits for him to arrive and while he does he reminisces about when he was captain and all the craziness that happened one day in the beginning of the U.S.’s involvement in World War II.

Here is a bit of background and plot of the movie from Wikipedia so I don’t have to explain it all in my awkward way.:

In 1959, U. S. Navy Rear Admiral Matt Sherman (Cary Grant) boards the obsolete submarine USS Sea Tiger, prior to her departure for the scrapyard. Sherman, her first commanding officer, begins reading his wartime personal logbook, and a flashback begins.

On December 10, 1941, a Japanese air raid sinks Sea Tiger while she is docked at the Cavite Navy Yard in the Philippines. Lieutenant Commander Sherman and his crew begin repairs, hoping to sail for Darwin, Australia before the Japanese overrun the port. Believing there is no chance of repairing the submarine, the squadron commodore transfers most of Sherman’s crew to other boats, but promises Sherman that he will have first call on any available replacements. Lieutenant (junior grade) Nick Holden (Tony Curtis), an admiral’s aide, is reassigned to Sea Tiger despite a total lack of submarine training or experience.”

Nick, in fact, has so little experience he walks up in an all-white dress uniform and talks about all the mundane and unimportant things he did for the admiral. None of it includes being at sea.

Nick does have another talent – ideas for how to get supplies that the captain will need to get his ship running again.

His ideas are “less than proper” shall we say and it turns out the admiral’s aide isn’t a waste of space after all. While the commander thought he was soft, it turns out he’s a real con-man, which is what is needed to get the submarine back on its way to Australia.

Nick strikes deals with ex-cons, witchdoctors, and many others to make sure they can get their supplies or help.

While out to see they find an island on and on that island are nurses who were stranded there when their plane had to land in an emergency because they were being fired at by the Japanese.

Cary/Matt isn’t really very interested in taking the nurses on his ship of all men, but the men, of course, are thrilled.

Many suggestive and flirty comments begin at this point, especially between Nick and Second Lt. Barbara Duran who he offers his pajamas to on her first night aboard.

In this moment things become quite bawdy (though not dirty) when she says she couldn’t possibly take his pajamas and he says it is totally fine as long as he is not in them at the same time. When she asks what he’s going to wear he says, “I’ll take the bottoms, if you like the tops. Do you like the tops? You can have the bottoms if you want.”

Oh, dear.

Matt tries to take the women to an army base but the Army says they can’t take the women without the proper orders because the Japanese are closing in. It is because the Japanese are closing in that Matt allows Nick to set up a casino-like operation where enlisted men can bring them the parts they need and get paid for them. The hull was damaged in the initial attack and the torpedo man would like some paint to fix the chips and nicks in it. The only issue is that they can’t get their hands on any gray paint so they finally settle on red and white. We all know what color that makes so eventually the hull is painted – yes, pink.

As you can imagine, this makes the submarine a perfect target and creates even more hilarious moments on board as they try to make their way to safety. The real problem with the pink submarine and then some repairs that still need to be taken care of, is that eventually, their own side doesn’t know that it is them. I won’t tell you how they finally let the U.S. Navy know it’s them and not the Japanese, but let’s just say it involves some unmentionables.

A little bit of trivia from Wikipedia: Tony Curtis took credit for the idea for the movie because he joined the Navy during World War II to work on a submarine partly because he had seen Cary’s movie Destination Tokyo. After the war and after he became a star, Tony said he’d love to be in a movie with Cary where Cary would be a submarine captain.

An actress who was going to be in the movie actually pulled out because she felt there were too many sex jokes. She was probably right, but the jokes were still way tamer than the jokes that are in movies today.

One risqué quote that did crack me up from Cary was, “It’s like watching a striptease. Don’t ask how it’s done. Just enjoy what is coming off.”

The U.S. Navy supported the movie and allowed it to be filmed around Naval Station Key West, which is now called the Truman Annex of Naval Station Key West. The submarine was portrayed by three different World War II-era submarines.

I kept being too technical watching this movie and saying “You can’t bring a submarine up and down like that.”

My husband had to keep reminding me that this is meant to be a goofball comedy. “It is a typical Blake Edwards comedy.” Which I guess means that Blake Edward created crazy and unrealistic comedies.

And, yes, in case you are wondering or don’t know, the show Operation Petticoat (which I have never seen) was based on the movie.

Overall I really enjoyed this movie and it came at a time I needed something silly.

To catch up on what Erin thought of the movie you can find her blog here (the post might be late today) and you can find Katja’s blog here (her post might also be late but it will be up later).

Here is the original trailer

Next up to finish up Spring of Cary:

Suspicion (May 25)

Notorious (May June 1)

I’d love to do a Summer of Bogart and watch Humphrey Bogart movies, but I haven’t run that by Erin or Katja yet. I’ll see what they think. Maybe I’ll do it on my own for fun.

Classic Movie Impressions. Spring of Cary: The Awful Truth

“What wives don’t know won’t hurt them.” That’s what Cary Grant as Jerry Warriner says in the beginning of The Awful Truth, the second movie that Erin of Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I are watching for our Spring of Cary.

Now, last week I was a bit of a downer when I shared some of Cary’s personal life and the tension while filming Houseboat because of his affair with Sofia Loren. I will do my best this week to not be a downer! Ha!

This is a fun, silly movie so I will be able to keep things pretty light in this post. Lucky for all of you. *wink*

So, back to the storyline of the movie, which was released in 1937.

Here is a description on IMBd: Before their divorce becomes final, Jerry and Lucy Warriner both do their best to ruin each other’s plans for remarriage, Jerry to haughty socialite Barbara Vance, she to oil-rich bumpkin Daniel Leeson. Among their strategies: Jerry’s court-decreed visitation rights with Mr. Smith, their pet fox terrier, and Lucy doing her most flamboyant Dixie Belle Lee impersonation as Jerry’s brassy “sister” before his prospective bride’s scandalized family.

We start the movie out with Jerry trying to find a way to look tan so Lucy believes he was really in Florida. Not sure where he was for two weeks, but it apparently was not in Florida. We never really find the truth about that particular story.

Jerry goes home to his wife and finds out she isn’t home either. So, where has she been?

Jerry’s wife, portrayed by Irene Dunn, has secrets of her own, though they may not be quite as nefarious as Jerry’s – or are they? It’s never completely clear who is sneaking around on who in the beginning of the movie.

Eventually, it is clear that both of them are somewhat running around on their spouses, though maybe not full-blown affairs. They are, however, hanging around the opposite sex who are not their spouse.

In fact, both spouses are trying to pull the wool over each other’s eyes.

They’ve grown apart in a way and maybe have grown bored with each other so they are both living their own lives in a way and just when they decide they should officially live their lives apart by filing for divorce, they find there is still something between them they’re not ready to let go of just yet.

All it takes is a bit of jealousy to be stirred up when Lucy starts seeing another man, even before the divorce is final (gasp). From there the misunderstandings, mix-ups, and silliness kicks off and never slows down.

There are so many laugh-out-loud moments. One that stands out for me is Lucy’s call with her lawyer who is trying to talk to her about the beauty of marriage while his wife nags him in the background and he says to her, “Please shut your mouth” and then progresses to, “You shut your mouth! I’ll eat dinner when I want to!”

Irene and Cary are great together – tossing barbs back and forth fast and furious like the ball in a tennis match at Wimbleton.

They made three movies together: this one, Penny Serenade, and My Favorite Wife.

I have My Favorite Wife on our list to watch next week.

According to articles online, there were many parts of the movie that were adlibbed, which added even more to the charm of the movie for me.

The film was directed by Leo McCarey and you can read more about him HERE

According to an article on Criterion.com: (McCarey’s) claims to greatness, reaching far back into silent film, include Laurel and Hardy two-reelers; the Marx Brothers comedy Duck Soup (1933); a beloved melodrama that, astonishingly, he wrote and directed twice—as Love Affair in 1939 and, in 1957, as An Affair to Remember; and two surprise blockbusters, Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945), gentle Catholic comedies starring Bing Crosby that reflect McCarey’s own devout Catholicism and feeling for the workings of divine providence.”

I have An Affair to Remember on our list for April 27th and I just added The Bells of St. Mary’s to my personal list to watch.

According to Wikipedia, the movie is based on a play of the same name written by Arthur Richman. It was also made into a radio theater program with Lux Radio Theater with Cary and Claudette Colbert in 1939. I’ve listened to the Lux Radio productions before and really enjoyed them. There was one of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House with Cary and Myrna Lloyd, who were the leads in the movie version as well and that one was superb.

The same article details that the actors at first struggled immensely with McCarey’s freestyle method of directing. They were not provided with a script or much direction, which infuriated Cary who was used to having set scripts and assembly-line type movies with Paramount. He tried to get out of the movie several times, which irked McCarey and he allegedly held a grudge against the actor for decades over that move.

Despite the rocky start, though, the actors eventually determined that McCarey was a comic genius and looked back on the experience fondly, remembering how hard they laughed each day.

The whole article, which details the process of filming and the improvisation on the set is very interesting. If you want to read more of it, you can do so here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Awful_Truth

To read Erin’s impressions of The Awful Truth, well…she doesn’t have one this week so check out her blog next week. *ahahaaaaha* She told me she didn’t have one after I put mine up.

Our remaining schedule for the Spring of Cary:

My Favorite Wife (April 20th)

An Affair To Remember (April 27)

Holiday (May 4)

Operation Petticoat (May 11)

Suspicion (May 18)

Notorious (May 25)