Operation Mad Ball (1957)

103 or 105 mins | Comedy | November 1957

Director:

Richard Quine

Producer:

Jed Harris

Cinematographer:

Charles "Bud" Lawton

Editor:

Charles Nelson

Production Designer:

Robert Boyle

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Mad Ball . According to an Apr 1956 LAT news item, Lewis Milestone was originally to produce the film with Jed Harris. According to a Mar 1957 HR news item, Carter DeHaven, Jr. was to appear as "Sgt. McCloskey," but had to drop out after it became too difficult for him to both work as assistant director and appear in the film. A Mar 1957 HR news item adds that Odette Myrtil was to play a featured role, but had to drop out of the production after she was injured in an accident.
       Although a HR production chart includes Joey Forman and Frank Moore Four in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Operation Mad Ball marked the screen debut of noted television comedian Ernie Kovacs (1919--1962). The film's screenplay was nominated by the Screen Writers Guild as Best Written American ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Mad Ball . According to an Apr 1956 LAT news item, Lewis Milestone was originally to produce the film with Jed Harris. According to a Mar 1957 HR news item, Carter DeHaven, Jr. was to appear as "Sgt. McCloskey," but had to drop out after it became too difficult for him to both work as assistant director and appear in the film. A Mar 1957 HR news item adds that Odette Myrtil was to play a featured role, but had to drop out of the production after she was injured in an accident.
       Although a HR production chart includes Joey Forman and Frank Moore Four in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Operation Mad Ball marked the screen debut of noted television comedian Ernie Kovacs (1919--1962). The film's screenplay was nominated by the Screen Writers Guild as Best Written American Comedy. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
10 Aug 1957.
---
Daily Variety
4 Sep 57
p. 3.
Film Daily
3 Sep 57
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 1957
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 1957
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 1957
p. 49.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 1957
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 57
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 1958
p. 1, 15.
Hollywood Reporter
2 May 1958
p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
3 Apr 1956.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
7 Sep 57
p. 521.
New York Times
21 Nov 57
p. 38.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Jed Harris Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d asst dir
3rd asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the unproduced play The Mad Ball by Arthur Carter.
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Mad Ball," words and music by Fred Karger and Richard Quine, sung by Sammy Davis, Jr.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Mad Ball
Release Date:
November 1957
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 20 November 1957
Production Date:
25 March--13 May 1957
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
24 September 1957
Copyright Number:
LP9008
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
103 or 105
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Just after the end of World War II, at the American Hospital Division outside Le Havre, France, Hogan, a glib young private, lowers his rifle to talk to Lt. Betty Bixby, an attractive nurse who has just arrived at the base. Their conversation is witnessed by the self-satisfied, officious Capt. Paul Lock, who arrests Hogan for fraternizing with an officer and lowering his weapon while on duty. As Hogan awaits his hearing, he commiserates with his friend, Corp. Berryman, who laments that he will be unable to spend time with his sweetheart, nurse Lt. Schmidt, before he is shipped out to the South Pacific. As an antidote to Berryman’s plight, Hogan envisions a romantic little inn where the lovers can spend their last night together. At Hogan’s hearing, Col. Rousch, the post’s kindly commander, questions Lock’s hard-nosed determination to court-martial Hogan. When Hogan points out that the Geneva Convention forbids medical personnel to carry a rifle, thus rendering the charge of lowering his weapon moot, the colonel dismisses the case. Still determined to discipline Hogan, Lock reassigns him to the morgue. Afterward, Hogan, bent on finding Berryman a romantic rendezvous, drives through the countryside and comes upon a run-down inn. The landlady, the cantankerous Madame Lafour, orders the GIs off her property because she holds all Americans responsible for the damage done to her inn by a group of rowdy servicemen. When Hogan agrees to refurbish the inn in exchange for hosting a party there, Madame agrees. For the “mad ball,” as Hogan terms it, Hogan enlists the base ambulance drivers to transport the nurses and asks the provisions ... +


Just after the end of World War II, at the American Hospital Division outside Le Havre, France, Hogan, a glib young private, lowers his rifle to talk to Lt. Betty Bixby, an attractive nurse who has just arrived at the base. Their conversation is witnessed by the self-satisfied, officious Capt. Paul Lock, who arrests Hogan for fraternizing with an officer and lowering his weapon while on duty. As Hogan awaits his hearing, he commiserates with his friend, Corp. Berryman, who laments that he will be unable to spend time with his sweetheart, nurse Lt. Schmidt, before he is shipped out to the South Pacific. As an antidote to Berryman’s plight, Hogan envisions a romantic little inn where the lovers can spend their last night together. At Hogan’s hearing, Col. Rousch, the post’s kindly commander, questions Lock’s hard-nosed determination to court-martial Hogan. When Hogan points out that the Geneva Convention forbids medical personnel to carry a rifle, thus rendering the charge of lowering his weapon moot, the colonel dismisses the case. Still determined to discipline Hogan, Lock reassigns him to the morgue. Afterward, Hogan, bent on finding Berryman a romantic rendezvous, drives through the countryside and comes upon a run-down inn. The landlady, the cantankerous Madame Lafour, orders the GIs off her property because she holds all Americans responsible for the damage done to her inn by a group of rowdy servicemen. When Hogan agrees to refurbish the inn in exchange for hosting a party there, Madame agrees. For the “mad ball,” as Hogan terms it, Hogan enlists the base ambulance drivers to transport the nurses and asks the provisions agent for the officer’s club to supply the repast. To win Betty’s sympathy, Hogan shows her the x-ray of an officer’s ulcer, claiming that it is his. This prompts the alarmed Betty to put Hogan on a special diet and order him to report to her every two hours. Occupied with the party arrangements, Hogan has no time for his morgue duties, and so asks an underling to pick up a corpse for him. Still suspicious of Hogan, Lock enlists Corp. Bohun to spy on the private and suggests that Bohun bad-mouth Lock to gain the men’s confidence. Bohun, who secretly detests Lock for burying his promotion requests in order to assure that the corporal will remain his permanent assistant, is delighted to derail the captain’s plans. When Rousch receives word that his brother has just been promoted to general and plans to pass through Le Havre, he decides to throw a party in his brother’s honor on the same night as Hogan’s mad ball. Rousch entrusts Lock with the arrangements and instructs him to have a crow's nest constructed in the officer’s club because his brother is fond of nautical themes. Soon after, Lock calls for a surprise inspection of the base, and when Hogan is unable to locate the corpse he was to deliver to the morgue, he enlists Oskar, a German war prisoner, to pose as the deceased. When Lock arrives at the morgue, a soda bottle stuffed inside Oskar’s pocket begins to leak, and Locke mistakes the liquid for blood. Suddenly detecting a heart beat, Lock panics and orders Hogan to find a hospital bed for the miraculously revived corpse. Afterward, Hogan tries to convince Betty to accompany him to the ball in order to “safeguard his health,” but she is reluctant to defy regulations forbidding the fraternization of enlisted personnel and officers. The entire ball is jeopardized when the nurses are restricted to base and ordered to attend the party for Rousch’s brother. To assure that Rousch's party will be cancelled, thus freeing the nurses, Bohun tricks the unwitting Lock into issuing orders that result in Rousch’s brother being shipped out before the party. With the help of transportation sergeant Yancy Skibo, the general and his men are whisked out of Le Havre and sent to sea. On the night of the party, a disappointed Rousch gazes at the newly built crow’s nest in the deserted officer’s club. When Betty discovers Hogan’s ruse and refuses to attend the ball, he accuses her of hiding behind her commission. Lock, ever vigilant, learns that a convoy of camp vehicles has been driving from the base toward Le Havre and enlists Bohun’s help to investigate. When Bohun alerts Hogan, they conceive of a plan to give the captain his “comeuppance.” Following Hogan’s instructions, Bohun tells Lock that the men have planned a ball for that evening. Claiming not to know the location, Bohun suggests that Lock pose as an ambulance driver, pick up a load of nurses and follow the other ambulances to the party. When Lock, disguised as an enlisted man, drives an ambulance into the motor pool, Hogan’s men, who have been told about the ruse by Bohun, load several German prisoners into the back. After Lock drives off, Hogan notifies Military Police Headquarters in Le Havre to stop his ambulance. Betty, meanwhile, has been waylaid by the lonely Rousch, who asks her to join him at the officer’s club. After she bursts into tears, Betty makes Rousch promise to keep a secret and then tells him of her disappointment in missing the festivities. The sympathetic colonel offers to drive her there, and along the road, they pass Lock, who has been arrested for transporting German prisoners of war. After Lock insists that he is a captain at the hospital, the colonel, still angry at Lock for spoiling his brother’s party, claims that Lock is impersonating an officer. When Betty and the colonel enter the ball, the servicemen spring to attention, after which Rousch tells them he promised Betty that he would ignore all infractions for the night. Hogan, who thinks that Betty spurned him, is glumly sitting alone in the barracks when the colonel dispatches a car to drive him to the party. Afterward, a flirtatious Madame LaFour tells the colonel that Hogan is the best good will ambassador he could have. When Hogan arrives, he thinks that he is going to be arrested, but instead, the colonel congratulates him and sends him over to Betty as the rest of the GIs and nurses whirl around the dance floor. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.