“Star Of The Month (June 2022)” Featuring Frank Sinatra in… Kings Go Forth (1958)

Now that I’m here for my first post on Frank Sinatra (my Star Of The Month for June 2022), I’m going for his 1958 war movie Kings Go Forth (based on the 1956 novel of the same name by Joe David Brown), co-starring Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Wild And Woody! (1948)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 40 seconds)

In the town of Rigor Mortis, Arizona, outlaw Buzz Buzzard has a habit of killing off every sheriff. However, Woody Woodpecker decides to take the job, and gives Buzz a run for his money! Like the earlier Woody Woodpecker short Wet Blanket Policy, this one gives Woody a very definite villain. And this time, I like the interplay between Woody and Buzz Buzzard much better! I like the various gags (including Buzz shooting the one sheriff on a golf course), and the ending was quite hilarious! I know this is one that I certainly would love to see again and again!

And Now For The Main Feature…

In World War II, a platoon of soldiers has marched into southern France. This group, led by First Lieutenant Sam Loggins (Frank Sinatra), has just had some much-needed replacement soldiers sent their way. One of these newer recruits is Britt Harris (Tony Curtis). At first, Sam doesn’t really trust him (since Britt comes from wealth and seems to get everything he wants), even when Britt helps rescue some soldiers that get injured in a minefield. However, Sam later comes to respect him when Britt single-handedly manages to help them capture a German bunker. All the men get some rest when the Colonel (Karl Swenson) learns that they’ve been under fire for a long time, and offers them some time to rest up in Nice. While exploring the area, Sam meets a young American girl named Monique Blair (Natalie Wood). They talk for a while, and Sam hopes to meet her again. She says that it will not happen, but he still leaves the offer open to meet in another week. He shows up at the arranged time and place, but she doesn’t. Instead, Sam finds himself talking to an older woman (Leora Dana), who asks him a lot of questions. Satisfied with his answers, she reveals herself to be Monique’s mother, and invites him to join them at their home. Over the next few weeks, Sam grows fonder of Monique, and proposes marriage. Monique is reluctant to accept, and reveals to him that her late father was black. This blindsides Sam, who then spends the next week agonizing over the decision of whether to go back to her or not. Much to the happiness of both Monique and her mother, he does decide to come back. Sam takes Monique out to a jazz club, where they find Britt, who joins the club’s musicians for a trumpet solo. To Sam’s dismay, Britt falls for Monique (and she for him). The next few weeks, Monique and Britt spend a lot of time together (with Sam along as the third wheel), and they eventually become engaged. While Sam doesn’t like this turn of events, he reluctantly offers his congratulations to the couple. However, when he and Britt are given a mission to sneak into a nearby town controlled by the Germans, Sam also finds out that Britt, who had submitted a marriage application to the army (at Sam’s insistence), had been hiding the fact that he was approved (and had been blaming the “delay” on the army). Sam forces Britt to tell Monique that he had no real plans to marry her, which leaves her overwrought to the point of trying to commit suicide (which she is stopped from doing). Now stuck with Britt on their mission, Sam makes it plain to him that he will try to kill him. But, with an important mission on the line, can the two get along long enough to complete it, or will they be caught by the Germans?

I first heard of the film when it was announced for Blu-ray a number of years back, and Frank’s presence in the film, plus that of Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood (whom I liked together in the 1965 comedy The Great Race) made it sound like a movie I would enjoy. I found that I enjoyed it. So far, of the four Frank Sinatra war dramas that I’ve had the chance to see (the other three being the 1959 film Never So Few and the 1965 movies None But The Brave and the not-yet-reviewed Von Ryan’s Express), I consider this one my least favorite. Frank is very good here, solidly convincing us that his character is unpopular with the ladies (a better performance than his more awkward characters from his early years at MGM), and he does equally well as a character who finds himself caring for Natalie Wood’s Monique, even after he finds out her black ancestry. I admit, him getting over his previously racist way of thinking seems a little too quick, but I blame that on the film’s writing. Both the other leads do very well here, with Tony Curtis’ Britt proving himself to be a bit of a scoundrel (but not as likeable as his character in the following year’s Operation Petticoat), and Natalie Wood doing well as the young Monique (even if, as a white Russian woman, she wouldn’t get cast in the role of a mulatto if the movie were made now), who gets too emotionally tied to Britt (making his eventual betrayal much crueler). I do think the film is at its best in the not-frequent-enough war scenes, while it drags a bit through the love story itself. Still, it’s an entertaining film that I’ve enjoyed seeing a few times, and certainly would suggest giving it a chance!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time (available at www.screenarchives.com) and on DVD from MGM.

Film Length: 1 hour, 51 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Pal Joey (1957)Frank SinatraSome Came Running (1958)

Tony Curtis – Operation Petticoat (1959)

Marjorie Morningstar (1958) – Natalie Wood

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“Star Of The Month (May 2021)” Featuring Cary Grant in… Operation Petticoat (1959)

We’re back for another Cary Grant movie as we continue the celebration of him as the Star Of The Month! This time, it’s his 1959 comedy Operation Petticoat, also starring Tony Curtis.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Counterfeit Cat (1949)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 6 seconds)

A cat tries to pretend to be a dog to get the bird that Spike the dog is guarding. A bit of a fun cartoon, although the whole “cat trying to get a bird that is guarded by a dog” concept is certainly nothing new, especially with all the Sylvester and Tweety cartoons from Warner Brothers. Still, there is some fun to be had (especially with all the bones that the cat keeps offering Spike), and I certainly didn’t expect the ending. All in all, not one of Tex Avery’s best, but certainly enough fun to recommend it just the same!

And Now For The Main Feature…

On December 10, 1941, the submarine USS Sea Tiger, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Matt Sherman (Cary Grant), is sunk by a Japanese air raid while docked in the Philippines. Captain J. B. Henderson (Robert F. Simon) wants to have the sub destroyed since he fears the Japanese will overrun the port, but Matt manages to convince him that his crew can get the ship repaired in two weeks. He’s stuck working with a smaller crew, since Henderson had transferred some of his men to other boats, but he is promised some replacements. One of them turns out to be the social-climbing Lieutenant Junior Grade Nick Holden (Tony Curtis). At first, Nick doesn’t seem to be worth anything, but then he sees how much trouble that Matt and his crew are having in trying to get supplies and parts from the Navy. With Nick promising to help get what they need, Matt makes him the supply officer. Soon, everybody has almost everything they need as a result of Nick’s “scavenging.” They are forced to try leaving before they are finished when their position is discovered by some Japanese planes. They find that they can submerge, but they soon discover a leak that forces them to stop at the island of Marinduque. While Matt’s crew works on repairs, Nick is sent to the island, where he discovers a group of five nurses that had been stranded there, and he offers them transportation off the island. Matt is less than thrilled, but he finds himself with little choice. Trouble arises from this situation, with the clumsy Second Lieutenant Dolores Crandall (Joan O’Brien) causing trouble for Matt, the engaged Nick trying to flirt with Second Lieutenant Barbara Duran (Dina Merrill), and Major Edna Heywood (Virginia Gregg) causing trouble in the engine room for Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate Sam Tostin (Arthur O’Connell). Will Matt be able to finish repairing his sub and get back in the war, or will everything fall apart?

While Operation Petticoat was an original story, it borrowed from several actual events from World War II, including the issues with the crew getting toilet paper (which, in light of the pandemic, seems a little too familiar an idea to modern audiences), another submarine (the USS Sea Dragon) with a red coat of paint that made it a prime target for the Japanese, and a few other things. The movie was an early directorial effort from Blake Edwards (before he really hit it big with the likes of Breakfast At Tiffany’s and the Pink Panther films), originally intended as a modest black-and-white film. However, when Cary Grant and his production company got involved, the budget rose, and the movie was filmed in color. In some respects, it was co-star Tony Curtis’ idea to have the two of them work together in a submarine film, as he remembered being influenced by Cary Grant’s performance in Destination Tokyo. For his part in producing the movie, Cary Grant was rewarded a high percentage of the profits, nearly $3 million (more than he had made on any movie before).

Operation Petticoat is a movie that I’ve seen a few times at this point, and it’s one that is among my favorite Cary Grant movies! The story is more or less told from the viewpoint of his character (especially considering it’s being told via flashback, as he reads from a journal he kept from his days as the commander of the sub). Cary Grant manages to be funny by himself, but a good fraction of the humor in the film is derived from his reactions to a lot of the stuff going on around him (particularly both the actions of Tony Curtis’ Nick and the presence of the women onboard)! Of course, one of the moments involving Cary Grant’s character that stuck with me the most in this movie is when they spotted a Japanese tanker and tried to sink it with a torpedo. At the last moment, the clumsy nurse Crandall accidentally fires the torpedo, and, instead of hitting the tanker in the water, it goes on land to hit a truck! HIs reaction right there makes this one of the most hilarious moments in the movie for me!

Of course, the rest of the movie is filled with good fun, too! As Nick Holden, Tony Curtis adds to the fun. At first, we would think he is only a society-climber, incapable of being useful (an assumption shared by some of the other characters). But, when he gets to scavenging, all hilarity breaks loose, as we see not only his methods of scavenging, but also how he is able to avoid being caught! Of course, one of the more memorable moments of scavenging is when he works with yeoman Ernest Hunkle (as played by Gavin McLeod) to steal a pig (particularly with his “oinking” lesson). Quite frankly, the whole situation with the pig (given the name Seaman Hornsby to get by a couple of military police) is also quite memorable. Plain and simple, this is a wonderful comedy (and probably my favorite submarine movie), and I would certainly give it some of my highest recommendations!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Olive Films.

Film Length: 2 hours, 1 minute

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

An Affair To Remember (1957)Cary GrantCharade (1963)

Kings Go Forth (1958) – Tony Curtis – Paris When It Sizzles (1964)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!