Monday, December 11, 2017

OPERATION PETTICOAT (1959) (Olive Signature Blu-ray Review)

OPERATION PETTICOAT (1959)

Label: Olive Films/Olive Signature
Rating: Unrated 
Region Code: A
Duration: 120 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080P HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Blake Edwards
Cast: Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Dina Merrill Joan O'Brien, Gene Evans
Operation Petticoat (1959) is a WWII naval-comedy that opens with a framing device, we have  U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Matt Sherman (Cary Grant, North By Northwest) arriving to send-off the obsolete submarine USS Sea Tiger which he formerly captained, sitting down with his log book and reminiscing about his time on the submarine in 1941, when it was sunk during a Japanese air raid on the Philippines island of Cavite, before it ever had a chance to properly fight in the war.

With his ship sunk he is left with just a skeleton crew and is allowed by his superiors to make repairs to the sub, repairing it enough so that they can re-float it and sail to a naval base in Darwin, Australia. As most of his crew have been reassigned to serve on other naval ships Sherman is assigned a crew of less-than-awesome replacements, including the slick careerist Lieutenant Nick Holden (Tony Curtis, Some Like It Hot), an admiral's aide without any submarine training or experience, however, his skills in scrounging scarce items (like toilet paper) makes him an ideal supply officer, and through illicit means, also known as "midnight requisitions", the crew are able to make the necessary repairs to the sub, also with the spiritual help of a Filipino witch doctor, they just barely able to leave port under the power of one belching (and very smokey) engine. 

En route they reluctantly evacuate five stranded female Army nurses from an overrun base, much to the chagrin of sub's mechanical engineer, who firmly believes that women are a curse on a sub, and he's not exactly wrong about that. Of course the presence of ladies on the sub ruffle some feathers, plus we have some developing romantic situations with Curtis's Holden perusing  the pretty Second Lieutenant Barbara Duran (Dina Merrill), while Sherman himself is pursued by Second Lieutenant Dolores Crandall (Joan O'Brien), who proves to be the most curse-worthy of the women, managing to accidentally fire off a torpedo at an inopportune moment, causing the captain to jokingly question in his whether the buxom beauty could possible be a Japanese spy.  

There's plenty of the expected 50's era sexist jokes, submarine-humor and comedic happenings, including the sub being preposterously painted pink, which captures the unwanted attention of both the enemy and some friendly fire, leading to the crew being subjected to a series of depth charges by U.S. forces who believe the pink sub is an enemy ploy, a fun scenario that culminates with some water-logged bras saving the day!   

This sub-comedy is a fun watch, it goes by fast, but it's 50's era sexist humor is sorely dated, but as a relic of a bygone era it is not without it's charms, the onscreen chemistry of Grant and Curtis is undeniable. It's also fun as someone who grew up on a steady diet of 70's TV to spot actors like Dick Sargent (Bewitched), Gavin MacLeod (The Love Boat) and Marion Ross (Happy Days) in various roles throughout. 

Audio/Video: Operation Petticoat 91959) arrives on Blu-ray for a second time from olive Films, this Olive Signature Edition is sourced from the same HD master as the first bare-bones release with some additional digital restoration applied. Not having seen the other release all I can say is that the other release must have looked very bad, because what we have here is not great. Presented in 1080p HD and framed in 1.85:1 widescreen the image is at times very soft, unnaturally grainy and full of scratches, dirt and debris. It's watchable but it's not an attractive looking Blu-ray by any means. The English DTS-HD MA Mono audio sounds clean and balanced, no issues, but it's not remarkable either. The fun score from David Rose complements the sea-faring/sexist comedy  shenanigans, optional English subtitles are provided. 

Onto he extras, this is where this release shines, beginning with an audio commentary from Aussie films critic Adrian Martin, which is very dry, I honestly didn't make it through it till the end. Then onto 
a 21-min interview with the director's daughter Jennifer Edwards and actress Lesley Ann Warren. Edwards recalls being on certain sets of her father, while actress Warren who worked on Edward's Victor Victoria (1982) speaks of how she was cast by the director, both speaking of his style of directing, and his process. There are also new interviews with actors Gavin MacLeod (of TV's The Love Boat) and Marion Ross, Ross (the mom from Happy Days!) tells a fun tale about encountering Audrey Hep[burn in a dressing room and the impression that left on her as a young actress. 

Cary Grant biographer Marc Eliot shows up for a half-hour interview, detailing Grant's early life in a port town, his early career in cabaret, and the strange tale of his mother's "death" and rediscovering her in an asylum year's later! Of course his it also touches on his career and various roles, and the actor's dabbling in LSD. 

This single-disc Blu-ray comes in a clear Blu-ray keepcase with a 2-sides sleeve of artwork, not reversible, but with a b-side illustration of Curtis and Grant. There's an 8-page booklet with a detailed essay on the film from with images from critic/author Chris Fujiwara, a good read but the white on  pink lettering was murder on the eyes! The essay is also presented as a text extra on the disc, which I found easier to read. The release also comes with a cardboard stock slipcase, or o-ring, featuring the same artwork as the release, with the spine logo also appearing on three-sides, it's an attractive release all around. As part of the olive signature Series this release is limited to 3500 units only. 

Special Features:
- Audio commentary by critic Adrian Martin
- “That’s What Everybody Says About Me” – with Jennifer Edwards and actress Lesley Ann Warren (11 min) HD
- “The Brave Crew of the Petticoat” – with actors Gavin MacLeod and Marion Ross (20 in) HD
- “The Captain and His Double: Cary Grant’s Struggle of the Self” – with Marc Eliot, author of Cary Grant: A Biography (20 min) HD
- Universal Newsreel footage of Cary Grant and the opening of Operation Petticoatat the Radio City Music Hall (4 min) HD
- Archival footage of the submarine USS Balao, which doubled as the USS Sea Tiger in Operation Petticoat (17 min) HD
- Eight-Page Collector's Booklet with an essay by critic/author Chris Fujiwara

Operation Petticoat (1959) is a fun, light-hearted WWII submarine-comedy, Curtis and Grant are fantastic fun, it's light and breezy stuff, but if you're a fan of the film Olive have really stuffed this one with some great extras that might make this worth a double-dip if you already own it. 

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