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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Operation Petticoat (1959)

"A submarine's just not designed to be coeducational."
- Lt. Commander Matt Sherman (Cary Grant)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: February 06, 2002

Stars: Cary Grant, Tony Curtis
Other Stars: Joan O'Brien, Dina Merrill, Gene Evans, Dick Sargent, Arthur O'Connell, Gavin McLeod, Marion Ross
Director: Blake Edwards

Manufacturer: JAG Media
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild innuendo, sexist attitudes)
Run Time: 02h:00m:16s
Release Date: September 18, 2001
UPC: 017153120455
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B-CC- D-

DVD Review

Old movies can make quite a revealing time capsule of mores and attitudes of an earlier time. A splendid case in point is Operation Petticoat, which was a fairly straightforward comedy when released, but a fairly distasteful exercise in sexism today. Taken with the proper attitude and understanding of its time, however, it's amusing enough. The Sea Tiger is a newly commissioned submarine under the command of Matt Sherman (Cary Grant). Unfortunately, it is commissioned in December 1941, and before it can set sail, however, the Japanese bomb it (apparently in the Philippines, though the details are sketchy). Operating by the book, the sub can't quite be made operational again. But Nick Holden, a reassigned former aide to an admiral, is the right type of schemer and con man to get the needed parts to get the sub underway, if not exactly shipshape. On their way to a more suitable repair facility, they manage to pick up five army nurses stranded by the attack, and have to try to adapt to life on a sub with women aboard. Of course, hijinks ensue. As a period piece, this picture has a definite charm; it's to this day one of my mother's favorite movies. Grant is as usual highly amusing, and indeed better in the part than I had expected. Curtis is appropriately slimy and obnoxious, while completely amoral in his undertakings. Supporting them are some familiar character faces, including Dick (Bewitched) Sargent, Arthur O'Connell and Gavin (The Love Boat) McLeod. They make for an appealing and entertaining sub crew, together with George Dunn as the depressive and gloom and doom Prophet. The casting of the nurses is less successful, and they are for the most part colorless and uninteresting, which mostly conforms to the movie's attitude towards them of being meat on the hoof. Parts of this attitude are downright embarrassing, such as the attempts to make it through the submarine hallways at the same time as the busty and clumsy Nurse Lt. Crandall (Joan O'Brien). On the positive side, there is some development and tolerance on the part of engineer Sam (O'Connell), who at first resists the presence of women in the engine room, but gradually comes to respect Nurse Major Heywood (Virginia Gregg), who manages to accomplish some repairs of her own (though she manages to do so by using a girdle as a spare part). Then of course there's the notorious pink submarine episode. It's no wonder that they decided that this would make a subject for a very short-lived television series in 1977. Some of the dialogue is quite funny nonetheless, and the delivery by the crew members is generally laughter-inducing, saving this from lower marks than it might obtain otherwise.In all, this is a picture that hasn't aged well at all. For those not bothered by such things, it's an entertaining enough piece of froth. But I don't think I'd let impressionable children see it.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The nonanamorphic 1.85:1 picture is okay, but not great. Detail is lacking, and jaggies are prominent. Color tends to be weak for the most part, though some sequences still have a fairly vibrant color. Black levels, at least, are acceptable. There are fairly heavy scratches and speckles at the beginning of the first reel, but these quickly reduce down to next to nothing and most of the time the picture is watchable, if nothing to get excited about.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 English mono is quite lacking in bass. Dialogue comes through just fine for the most part. The music has a poor, tinny sound. The sequences of the creaky sub attempting to dive are noticeably lacking in presence and a perception of threat. Das Boot this ain't.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Nothing whatsoever. The chaptering is just barely adequate for a two-hour movie.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

A sexist artifact of the late 1950s, in a marginal transfer and sans any extras at all. Maybe worth a rental.


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