Operation Petticoat (Blu-ray Review)

Operation-PetticoatOlive Films continues stocking its library with A-titles of Hollywood yesteryear with 1959’s Operation Petticoat.  This comedy stars two of the era’s biggest male leads in Cary Grant and Tony Curtis.  It also contains a few actors who would later find success in TV land in the years to come.  While I may not be a fan of everything they’re putting out, Olive Films really should be commended for saving films of the era they are plucking Blu-ray releases from.  As time marches on, these are the films that could be left in the dust and they are films that still have fans and a history.  Its nice to be able to have something at your disposal as opposed to waiting and hoping it pops up again on Turner Classic Movies sometime in the near future.

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As the Sea Tiger prepares to be sent off to the scrapyard, it is boarded by Navy Admiral Matt Sherman.  Sherman takes to his wartime journal and begins having flashbacks of his relationship with the sub.  His experience is one of not giving up on his submarine.  After an attack from the Japanese, his submarine is left for the bottom of the ocean.  He convinces his superiors to let him salvage the ship and take it to safety.  With a rag tag group and later a handful of Army nurses, they set course to try and make it to Australia.

Operation Petticoat wasn’t his first film, but it was the start of director Blake Edwards run of producing some of his best and most notable in his filmography.  After the success of this submarine comedy, Edwards would go on to direct such films as Breakfast At Tiffany’s, The Party, Days Of Wine & Roses, The Great Race, Victor Victoria, Blind Date and most of the Pink Panther film series.  He had only been nominated once for an Academy Award (Adapted Screenplay, Victor Victoria), but in 2004 he was given an honorary Oscar for his contributions to writing, directing and his full body of work.

This film was definitely full of charm and one rooted deeply in its era.  There was a lot of humor based in the time period, but plenty that actually holds up today, including some sexual innuendo jokes that I found surprisingly included in this.  I’m not sure this film would play very well today with a general youth audience  uninterested in cinema’s past as it runs just over two hours and has a very slow pacing to it with jokes and an era they might not have a clue about.  But for us older

In 1959, this movie was actually a pretty massive hit.  It was the third highest grossing film at the box office for the year.  Funny how times have changed, because it achieved that with 6.8 million dollars.  But, in todays world that would be a 55.5 million dollar intake.  The film was also nominated for an Academy Award later on.  It also got adapted into a television show that ran from 1977-1979 and starred the late, great John Astin.  It also starred Tony Curtis’ daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis!

Watching Cary Grant and Tony Curtis share scenes was one of the biggest treats of the film for me.  I found it to be all right, but definitely running a little long.  Some of the comedy didn’t hold up for me (I did understand it, just didn’t work) and some of it surprised to me to quite a bit of joy (“Wonder why they call it The Head?”).  If you’re a fan of vintage Hollywood, WWII related movies or whatnot, you should definitely give Operation Petticoat a look.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1

Clarity/Detail: This is basically done in the “hands off” approach.  There’s not big time restoration work being done here, but there’s also zero sign of any digital tampering or “enhancement”.  Its a nice picture that pretty accurately displays the film stock they have the transfer from.  It’s for the most part a clean image.  Some of the blue screen and model work in the film has become a bit more noticeable with the upgrade, but there’s a certain charm and history lesson to that if you’re the right viewer.

Depth: This is a rather flatter picture coming in about average.  There are a couple instances inside the submarine with good examples of depth, but for the most part its never going to wow, but the picture certain looks decent.

Black Levels: Blacks are a bit faded, and more on the grayer side of things.  While not very rich, it doesn’t mask much detail at all.

Color Reproduction: Colors appear very dingy and faded.  Not a whole lot of pop, however the red and white paint being poured into a bucket had some life to it as well as the pink submarine in the film.

Flesh Tones: A little flimsy, but sustainable through most of it.  More of a brown tint to the skin tones.

Noise/Artifacts: There’s a lot of analog issues to the print but nothing very damning.  There’s film scratches, specs, streaks.  Stuff I think gives the transfer “character” that some cinephiles may turn their nose up at.  There’s a few rough patches in a couple shots, but they are minimal.

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Audio Format(s): English Mono DTS-HD

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics: The film boasts an impressive lossless audio track.  The source was apparently in very good shape.  The crisp audio is highlighted by its clear dialogue and effective score and sound effects.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Clean and clear.  Since this is a film dominated by dialogue, this is the most important aspect and its in terrific condition.

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“You get nothing!  You lose!  Good day, sir!”

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Olive Films brings a solid release of Blake Edwards’ Operation Petticoat to Blu-ray.  Its got a really good presentation for being a 1950s film that hasn’t been put through a masterful restoration process.  Its lack of extras is a bummer, but people should know that’s par for the course on most Olive Films releases.  The important fact is that a classic film starring Cary Grant and Tony Curtis, directed by Blake Edwards has made the jump and preservation to the Blu-ray format.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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