20,000 LAUGHS UNDER THE SEA!
In 1941, the Japanese attack the submarine USS Sea Tiger in the Philippines; as repairs begin, Lieutenant Commander Matt Sherman (Cary Grant) makes a new arrival, Holden (Tony Curtis), a supply officer… which he turns out to be eminently suitable for. Blake Edwards’s first hit was, believe it or not, a comedy with some basis in real events, even if the story turns increasingly silly, involving a pink submarine, a goat and a surprise childbirth. Old-fashioned in the way the writers imagine what might happen if women are allowed to board a submarine, but still charming and funny, with an irreverent attitude and superior casting; Grant and Curtis are terrific.
1959-U.S. 124 min. Color. Produced by Robert Arthur. Directed by Blake Edwards. Screenplay: Stanley Shapiro, Maurice Richlin. Cast: Cary Grant (Matt Sherman), Tony Curtis (Nick Holden), Dina Merrill (Barbara Duran), Gene Evans, Arthur O’Connell, Richard Sargent.
Trivia: Bob Hope and Jeff Chandler were reportedly considered for roles. Later a TV series, Operation Petticoat (1977-1979).
Last word: “I was in the submarines, when I served in the Navy, so I decided that would make a good picture at Universal. And I was doing really well to get some guy, Kirk Douglas, to play that other part. But then someone said they gave it to Cary Grant. I was afraid he would turn me down. He didn’t, and to be accepted by Cary was a great Mitzvah. Was a great thing, ’cause the man was so articulate in his movements, you know, he didn’t have to overload the circuits at all, he was able to do it very effortlessly.” (Curtis, interview by Michael Hainey)