Operation Petticoat, one of post-war America's more popular war flicks, is an example of the era's basically conservative teases.
Ten years after the end of World War II, the subject of the war became safe for comedy, at least in America. From Broadway and TV and Hollywood came such projects as Mister Roberts, Operation Madball and No Time for Sergeants. One of the biggest hits of 1959, and a breakthrough for director Blake Edwards, Operation Petticoat joined the march of military hijinks and is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Operation Petticoat opens in 1959, as a submarine called the USS Sea Tiger is about to be junked. Admiral Sherman (Cary Grant), the original captain, reviews his logbook, leading to the rest of film’s flashback of how the submarine was salvaged after nearly being scuttled by Japanese bombs in December 1941. Key to the restoration process was the larcenous, unscrupulous shenanigans of his new supply officer, Lt. Holden (Tony Curtis). The final humiliation is that the submarine is painted pink, presumably an emasculating color (and a dangerously conspicuous one), and this leads to a final round of tension with America’s own navy. This could be seen as a gentle though none-too-subtle satire on the masculine ego of warfare.