Petticoat Pirates (1961) Poster

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Technicolor farce with a superfluous star
wilvram28 August 2014
Service comedies, especially those with a naval background, were all the rage in the Britain of the late 1950s and early 1960s. After two world wars and the institution of National Service, there were more Brits familiar with life in the armed forces than in any period before or since.

This colourful farce about Wrens taking over a warship to show their chauvinistic male counterparts a thing or two, is typical of the ABPC which had already produced the similar GIRLS AT SEA and OPERATION BULLSHINE among others. All featured excellent production values and superb Technicolor photography, in this case from Gilbert Taylor. Nominal star Charlie Drake is mostly superfluous and the film would function just as well without him, rather like the Fox 1940's Laurel and Hardy movies, not that Drake should really be mentioned in the same sentence as the two comedy giants. He seems to have been shoe-horned in here, in an opportunistic attempt to cash in on his great popularity on ITV at the time. A typical set-piece has him having a nightmare about a court martial, with all his accusers played by himself; it's clever but not very funny, though some years later he won a Golden Rose award playing an entire orchestra. Rather more laughs are provided by the stupefying banality of the script on occasions. The lovely Anne Heywood and the inevitable, but always welcome, Cecil Parker are supported by a valiant cast of British character actors including Victor Maddern and Eleanor Summerfield, while Murray Melvin plays a clone of the supercilious type essayed by Mister Williams in the early Carry Ons, cheekily called Kenneth.
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Beware of the star
Ambak20 February 2014
Petticoat Pirates is a perfectly innocuous British comedy completely ruined by the insertion of popular TV comedian Charlie Drake into the action. This was Associated British Picture Corporation's second attempt to propel Drake to movie stardom following the previous year's "Sands of the Desert". This time ABPC were not only filming in colour, but also in CinemaScope (at a time when Rank were only granting their big comedy star Norman Wisdom, massive at the box office, black and white 1.75:1). The plot revolves around a Women's Royal Naval Service base, the chief of which has been lobbying for WRENs to serve at sea (an advanced concept for 1961!). When the admirals refuse, the WREN's take over a frigate one quiet night and put to sea. Surprisingly, the plot does not involve the women being hopeless and having to be rescued by men (although there is a rather patronising sequence involving seasickness) and the results of the WRENs efforts require the admiral to eat his words. Interspersed with this action, in a totally haphazard way, are various scenes with Drake (who's character is imaginatively named Charlie Drake) involving his trademark slapstick and all totally irrelevant to the story. If this had been shot in black and white in the standard ratio it would probably be remembered fondly along with the host of other British comedies of the era, the insertion of Drake, however, kills it stone dead.
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Might have even OK without Drake
malcolmgsw17 March 2019
Associated British obviously saw Drake as the new Norman Wisdom.Thus the first seven minutes are entirely devoted to Drake.It is embarrassingly unfunny.The plot of this film,when it gets going,concerns the plot by WRENS to take over a Navy ship to prove their worth.Unfortunately from time to time Drake reappears thus bringing the film to a full stop.Drakes material was more suited to the halls and tv.However his style went out of fashion and he is now long forgotten.
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Battle of the Sexes comedy.
gnok20022 February 2014
I am inserting a review for all films I've seen that so far lack one, my 'review' such as it is follows... 'Battle of the sexes comedy on the high seas, starring C.Drake.' Not the most useful I admit, I saw the film on BBC1 19 Jun 1977, in the UK, I have no recollection of it so can't add to my review, I can say that I am a fan of under-rated largely forgotten director D.MacDonald, and that C.Drake was better known as a TV than film comedian in the UK. Also note this has just been released on DVD in the UK by Network, so hopefully a more enlightening review will not be long in coming. Need to fill review too short, check out THE BROTHERS (1947) as a good D.MacDonald film.
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Who'd have thought it?Charles Drake of Weybridge a Seer.......
ianlouisiana10 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I remember Mr C.Drake as a fine slapstick comic on the Halls,part of "Mick and Montmorency" whose "Decorating" act was hugely popular both on stage and on the few flickering black and white 405 - line TV sets the whole neighbourhood crowded around in the early 1950s. In front of a live audience he would be on fire and could reach inspired heights of foolery,but his was not a persona that could function so well without the fourth wall. And cinema simply didn't suit him but I suspect he was made an offer he couldn't refuse. Consequently there followed a number of increasingly frankly rather embarrassing vehicles that wasted his broad comedic skills and where he was restrained from his old fashioned flights of fancy by a rigid ans usually terrible script. The main reason to watch "Petticoat Pirates" is the delicious opportunity to watch many of our most popular screen comedians doing their familiar things expertly and with every appearance of enjoyment. What seemed ludicrous in 1961 - the employment of women on warships is now commonplace - perhaps some nascent Lord of the Admiralty was sitting in the three and nines with his mum and dad and thought "Why not?" Perhaps Charlie Drake should be posthumously ennobled as Lord Drake of Weybridge for his services to gender equality? Stranger things have happened.
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One to instantly forget.
alexanderdavies-9938216 July 2017
Charlie Drake isn't the kind of comedian people would want to remember in this day and age. His style leaves a fair bit to be desired and he faded from memory LONG before he died. "Petticoat Pirates" is one of only a handful of films that Charlie Drake made and a good thing as well. Like Arthur Askey, Drake wasn't suited to film and the above movie makes this painfully obvious. The trouble with comedy and with comedians in general, is that you either like what you see or you don't. Charlie Drake falls into the latter category. "Petticoat Pirates" is cringeworthy to sit through. There are hardly any laughs and Drake gets on my nerves rather quickly.
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