U.S. Navy Admiral Matt Sherman (Cary Grant) is about to oversee the decommissioning of a submarine named Sea Tiger. Through the exposition of a few handy sailors, we learn that Sherman was Sea Tiger's first commander, and through the magic of flashbacks, we see Sea Tiger's maiden voyage during the Second World War.
During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Sea Tiger is badly damaged while still moored. Sherman's crew resurrects her, however, and Sherman convinces the base commander to let them make interim repairs and get underway to a base that can help them fix the submarine properly. Before they can do that, however, they need supplies, and their efforts to acquire those supplies get them nowhere.
Salvation arrives in the form of Lt. Nick Holden (Tony Curtis), an Admiral's aide who is stranded in Honolulu after the attack. Holden has something of a reputation as a playboy, courting the favor of high-ranking officials in order to stay out of combat. "He and the admiral's wife won the rhumba championship two years in a row," quips one of Sherman's crew. Holden is far from the stupid society darling he appears to be, however, as we learn when he takes on the job of ship's supply officer. Employing a number of techniques not recommended by the regulations manual, the crafty lieutenant procures the items needed by the Sea Tiger... and then some. Soon, the crew is on its way to other ports in the South Pacific, barely seaworthy, but proud and stubborn.
Let's face it: this is Cary Grant's show. Much of the film's comedy is dependent upon his patented style of suffering with quiet dignity and then occasionally exploding in outrage. (If Grant hadn't done it first, we might even call this the Regis Philbin school of acting.) Without Sherman and his attempts to keep the nurses and crew from "exchanging any information" about the facts of life (insert joke about Cary Grant, women, and seamen here), none of the film's events would be particularly funny.
At its heart, this movie is really a romance, with various of the hard, stuck-in their-ways sailors falling for the superior charm of the nurses. The control-freak commander falls for the disaster-prone woman, the engineer who doesn't think women and machines mix falls for the girl who hangs her pantyhose in the engine room, and the social-climbing Holden falls for the sweet small town girl. So don't expect any huge surprises -- everything works out the way Hollywood and sentiment intended.
Review date: 1/30/98
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