DIRECTED BY BLAKE EDWARDS
PRODUCED BY ROBERT ARTHUR
MUSIC BY DAVID ROSE/HENRY MANCINI
PRODUCED BY ROBERT ARTHUR
MUSIC BY DAVID ROSE/HENRY MANCINI
INFORMATION FROM IMDb
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.
Written by John Vogel
Cary Grant ... Lt. Cmdr. Matt T. Sherman
Tony Curtis ... Lt. JG Nicholas Holden
Joan O'Brien ... Lt. Dolores Crandall RN
Dina Merrill ... Lt. Barbara Duran RN
Gene Evans ... Chief Molumphry
Dick Sargent ... Ens. Stovall (as Richard Sargent)
Virginia Gregg ... Maj. Edna Heywood RN
Robert F. Simon ... Capt. J.B. Henderson
Robert Gist ... Lt. Watson
Gavin MacLeod ... Ernest Hunkle
George Dunn ... The Prophet
Dick Crockett ... Harmon
Madlyn Rhue ... Lt. Reid RN
Marion Ross ... Lt. Colfax RN
Clarence Lung ... Sgt. Ramon Gillardo (as Clarence E. Lung)
Frankie Darro ... Pharmacist Mate Dooley
Tony Pastor Jr. ... Fox
Robert F. Hoy ... Reiner (as Robert Hoy)
Nicky Blair ... Seaman Kraus
John W. Morley ... Williams
Arthur O'Connell ... Chief Mechinist's Mate Sam Tostin
and many, many more...
Stanley Shapiro ... (screenplay) and
Maurice Richlin ... (screenplay)
Paul King ... (suggested by a story by) and
Joseph Stone ... (suggested by a story by)
Robert Arthur ... producer
Henry Mancini ... (uncredited)
Russell Harlan ... director of photography
Jeff Chandler was originally offered the role that went to Cary Grant.
Grant himself was at first reluctant to take it, knowing he was much too old
to play a wartime captain.
The "sinking" of a truck was inspired by real incident that happened in 1944.
On August 9th, USS Bowfin (SS-287) followed four ships into Minami Daito Harbour.
As she fired her six bow torpedoes at the moored ships, hitting three and sinking two of them,
one torpedo went astray and hit a pier.
A bus parked on it was blown up and thrown into the water by the explosion.
Some of the plot points of the movie were based on real-life incidents.
Most notable were scenes set at the opening of WW II,
based on the actual sinking of the submarine USS Sealion (SS-195),
sunk at the pier at Cavite Navy Yard, the Philippines;
Cmdr. Sherman's letter to the supply department on the inexplicable lack of toilet paper,
based on an actual letter to the supply department
of Mare Island Naval Shipyard by Lt. Cmdr. James Wiggin Coe of the submarine Skipjack (SS-184);
and the need to paint a submarine pink, due to the lack of enough
red lead or white lead undercoat paint.
According to the memoir "Mislaid in Hollywood' by Joe Hyams, referred to in the biography
"Cary Grant - A Class Apart" by Graham McCann, " . . .
Grant found his burgeoning enthusiasm for his therapeutic use of LSD
increasingly hard to contain, and, eventually, while he was shooting the movie
"Operation Petticoat", he could hold back no longer.
Two reporters - Joe Hyams and Lionel Crane - both prepared for the usual amusing
but scrupulously bland Grant interview, were stunned to find him unusually relaxed,
open and keen to share with them the extraordinary experiences he had undergone . . .
He talked about his desperate desire to change his character
so that he could be reunited with Betsy Drake."
The nurses wonder why the toilet is called "the head."
It's because on earlier sailing ships, the toilet for enlisted sailors was a series of holes,
like an outhouse, that was perched out over the bow - the "head of the ship."
This location was for practical reasons as the wind was always blowing from the aft;
therefore, any "offensive odors" were blown away from ship.
The officer's toilets were near the stern or back of the ship within the "quarter gallery",
the part of the stern that hung over the water on either side.
Tina Louise was offered but turned down the role of Nurse Crandall
that then went to Joan O'Brien because Louise didn't like the abundant boob jokes
directed at the character.
'USS Balao' SS-285 was painted pink and was used for exterior shots in and around Key West.
'USS Archerfish' SS-311 (originally 'USS Archer-Fish', renamed at 1952 recommission)
wore the standard colors of gray and black, and was used for
interior and exterior shots in and around Key West. 'USS Queenfish' SS-393
was used in opening and closing scenes, and was used for the "at sea" shots
filmed in and around San Diego.
Bob Hope always said it was his biggest regret that he turned down this movie.
A submarine based at Cavite, the USS Seadragon, did go on patrol with a red paint job.
Her original black paint was damaged by fire in the air raid,
and ended up peeling off while she was on patrol.
She ended up sinking three Japanese ships during the time her paint was peeling,
leading Tokyo Rose to make broadcasts about "Red pirate submarines."
Of the three boats to portray the 'Sea Tiger', one-the 'USS Archer-Fish',
SS-311-was present at the Japanese surrender which ended WWII in the Pacific Theater.
The 'USS Wren', DD-568, which was shown as the
destroyer attacking 'Sea Tiger', was also present.
Nurse Barbara (Dina Merrill), the love interest for Tony Curtis' character,
was played in the 1977 remake by Curtis' daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis.
Three members of the cast would later reunite with Gavin MacLeod on his show
The Love Boat (1977). Dick Sargent and Dina Merrill each appeared once
while Marion Ross guest-starred
as five different characters then became a regular cast member as a sixth.
Three members of the regular cast of Petticoat Affair (1977),
the ABC series based on this movie, also guest-starred on The Love Boat.
John Astin and Richard Gilliland had been cut after the first season
and Melinda Naud appeared after the show's season two cancellation.
The comment, "Mason, I think we've been victims of Sherman's March to the Sea",
is a reference linking Lt Commander Sherman's actions to the Savannah Campaign
waged by General Sherman during the American Civil War.
Nick Holden tells Matt Sherman that the boys up in Las Vegas would say
he is trying to make his point the hard way.
Sherman latter repeats this to someone else.
In 1941, while it existed and had gambling,
Las Vegas was not yet the gambling and entertainment center it is known for.
It was a small dusty town that was mostly a rest stop on the way to Southern California.
People might know of it, and specially navy servicemen might know of it
since they would stop there on their way to the Pacific,
but it wouldn't have been a standard cultural reference as it would be in the 1950's and beyond.
In 1941, Reno, NV would have been a more appropriate reference
as it was better known as a place to gamble and vacation.
When Lt. Holden tells the Marine guard about the "blackout regulations,"
he says the order came from Adm. Nimitz.
If this is set in mid-December 1941, Adm. Nimitz wasn't commander-in-chief, yet.
He took command on 31 December 1941.
The map on the wall of the office where Cary Grant and his superior are
discussing the damages the submarine suffered during the Japanese raid
at the beginning of the movie is clearly a mid '50s world map. The borders of European countries are clearly post war
and the same about India and Pakistan that didn't exist as countries on 1941.
A late 1950s vintage car - possibly a Dodge or Chrysler is visible
through an open door in one of the rooms at the naval base.
The destroyer shown attempting to sink the Sea Tiger is the USS Wren, DD-568,
which was not commissioned until 20 May 1944.
All the real vessels used in the film - USS Wren, USS Balao,
USS Archer-Fish and USS Queenfish - served in the Second World War
but were launched after the period in which these events take place.
USS Wren and USS Queenfish were launched in 1944, USS Balao in 1942 (October),
and USS Archer-Fish in 1943.
When Holden is stealing the pig, he falls down in the mud and clearly
gets the seat of his uniform muddy.
Yet when he is climbing into the truck, the trousers are clean.
When Lt. Commander Sherman is talking to Captain Henderson
they mention the submarine tender Bushnell as being in Darwin, Australia.
That is not correct as the Bushnell had been transferred to duty
as a Hydrographic Survey ship and renamed Sumner AGS-32 in 1940.
The closest submarine tender was actually USS Canopus AS-9, which was in the Cavite Naval Yard.
Off and on throughout the film, Lt. Cmdr. Matt T. Sherman wears what appears
to be a signet ring on the third finger of his left hand.
When Major Heywood is talking to Lt Commder Sherman on her arrival on the submarine,
several ships can be seen in the background.
If real, these would have been more appropriate transport for the nurses.
During an air raid, several bombs go off near a truck Tony Curtis is driving.
A cloud of smoke is shown coming up vertically at the driver's door
while the background scene shows the truck is moving at a high speed.
The wind created by the truck's forward motion should have blown the smoke horizontally.
Key West, Florida Keys, Florida, USA
San Diego, California, USA
Naval Station San Diego, California, USA (scenes suggesting postwar period)
Naval Station Key West, Florida, USA (the Philippines and Australia scenes)
Stage 19, Universal Studios - 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California, USA