A submarine newly commissioned is damaged in the opening days of WW II. A captain, looking for a command insists he can get it to a dockyard and captain it. Going slowly to this site, they find a stranded group of Army nurses and must take them aboard. How bad can it get? Trying to get a primer coat on the sub, they have to mix white and red in order to have enough. When forced to flee the dock during an air attack, they find themselves with the world’s only Pink submarine, still with 5 women in the tight quarters of a submarine.
We All Live In A Pink Submarine
In Tony Curtis’s filmed tribute to Cary Grant for TCM he made much of his well known idolatry of the man who made him want to become an actor. As a kid growing up in the mean streets of New York, young Bernie Schwartz saw in Cary Grant all he ever wanted to be up there on the silver screen.
During naval service on board a submarine in World War II he got to see Cary Grant in Warner Brothers Destination Tokyo. As Curtis said, life has a funny way of working things out. What happens; Tony Curtis gets to star with Grant years later in a World War II service comedy that is set aboard a submarine.
Destination Tokyo was not one of Grant’s best films, but Operation Petticoat definitely is. Right after World War II starts, Grant’s new ship, the Tigerfish is sunk right in her berth in a remote Pacific Island. Grant persuades Admiral Robert Simon to make whatever repairs he can and try and get the ship back to Pearl Harbor for repairs.
Among other things Grant gets is a new officer Tony Curtis who hasn’t exactly seen much sea duty, but he’s quite the operator. The two develop quite an interesting relationship on the voyage.
And it’s one thing after another on that memorable shakedown cruise back to Pearl Harbor. But Cary Grant is as unflappable and charming as ever, though even he seems a bit put out at times.
There are some pretty hilarious moments in Operation Petticoat, the sinking of a truck, the painting of the Tigerfish pink and then having to leave it that way until Pearl Harbor. And who can forget how they are saved from friendly fire at the climax of the film.
Operation Petticoat was one of the biggest commercial and critical hits that Cary Grant had in Hollywood. Coming right after North By Northwest it could well be argued this was the high point of his career.
The film holds up very well today, I think today’s audience would laugh just as hard as they did in 1959.