The Iron Petticoat (1956)

94 or 96 mins | Comedy | 21 December 1956

Director:

Ralph Thomas

Writer:

Ben Hecht

Producer:

Betty E. Box

Cinematographer:

Ernest Steward

Production Designer:

Carmen Dillon
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HISTORY

The working title for the film was Not for Money. Although the 2 Feb 1957 NYT review of the film states that writer Ben Hecht declined to have his name credited in the film, his credit on the viewed print reads "Screenplay by Ben Hecht." A 2 Feb 1957 Cue article stated that Hecht repudiated the script and the film. According to a 2 Feb 1957 SatRev article, star Bob Hope and Hecht feuded about the production. A biography of co-star Katharine Hepburn notes that Hope had brought his own comedic writers on location in England, where they rewrote the script to incorporate more of Hope's typical humor. Hecht subsequently decided to pull out of the production, which was then called Not for Money. In a biography of Hope, the star claimed that when he found the script unfinished at the beginning of production, he offered to complete it with his writers, who retitled the film The Iron Petticoat.
       As noted in a 24 Jan 1957 LAT article, the film's plot about a staunch Soviet heroine who is converted to democracy by an American man bears some resemblance to Ninotchka, a 1939 film originally produced by M-G-M starring Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40) and then remade in 1957 by M-G-M as Silk Stockings, starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse (see entry).
       According to an 18 Jun 1956 DV article, producer Harry Saltzman (1915--1994) set up a distribution deal through which the British-based company Romulus Films, Ltd. released the picture ...

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The working title for the film was Not for Money. Although the 2 Feb 1957 NYT review of the film states that writer Ben Hecht declined to have his name credited in the film, his credit on the viewed print reads "Screenplay by Ben Hecht." A 2 Feb 1957 Cue article stated that Hecht repudiated the script and the film. According to a 2 Feb 1957 SatRev article, star Bob Hope and Hecht feuded about the production. A biography of co-star Katharine Hepburn notes that Hope had brought his own comedic writers on location in England, where they rewrote the script to incorporate more of Hope's typical humor. Hecht subsequently decided to pull out of the production, which was then called Not for Money. In a biography of Hope, the star claimed that when he found the script unfinished at the beginning of production, he offered to complete it with his writers, who retitled the film The Iron Petticoat.
       As noted in a 24 Jan 1957 LAT article, the film's plot about a staunch Soviet heroine who is converted to democracy by an American man bears some resemblance to Ninotchka, a 1939 film originally produced by M-G-M starring Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40) and then remade in 1957 by M-G-M as Silk Stockings, starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse (see entry).
       According to an 18 Jun 1956 DV article, producer Harry Saltzman (1915--1994) set up a distribution deal through which the British-based company Romulus Films, Ltd. released the picture in England, while M-G-M distributed it to the rest of the world. The film credits state that the picture was also a Remus Films production, however, no further imformation about this company, which apparently was affiliated with Romulus, has been found. The Iron Petticoat was the first film production for Saltzman, who later became well-known as one of the producers of the James Bond films.
       Several of the film's reviews, as well as biographies of the stars, noted that Hepburn and Hope were miscast as a romantic team and the film was not a success for either star. Modern sources add Man Mountain Dean (Russian strong-arm man) to the cast.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
HISTORY CREDITS
CREDIT TYPE
CREDIT
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
29 Dec 1956
---
Cue
2 Feb 1957
---
Daily Variety
30 Jan 1956
---
Daily Variety
18 Jun 1956
---
Daily Variety
6 Jul 1956
p. 3
Daily Variety
13 Aug 1956
---
Film Daily
28 Dec 1956
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 1956
p. 3
Los Angeles Examiner
24 Jan 1957
---
Los Angeles Times
24 Jan 1957
---
Motion Picture Daily
3 Jan 1957
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
29 Dec 1956
p. 201
New York Herald Tribune
2 Feb 1957
---
New York Mirror
2 Feb 1957
---
New York Times
2 Feb 1957
p. 12
Saturday Review
2 Feb 1957
---
Variety
11 Jul 1956
p. 6
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Remus Film produced in association with Harry Saltzman
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Scr
Based on an orig story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Cost supv
MUSIC
Mus comp and dir
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod controller for Pinewood Studios, London, Engl
Prod mgr
Cont
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Not for Money
Release Date:
21 December 1956
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Berlin, Germany: 30 Jun 1956; Los Angeles opening: 23 Jan 1957; New York opening: 1 Feb 1957
Production Date:
Jan 1956 at Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, England
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Hope Records, Inc. & Benhar Productions, Inc.
19 December 1956
LP7617
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
VistaVision Motion Picture High-Fidelity
Duration(in mins):
94 or 96
Length(in feet):
8,493
Length(in reels):
12
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18154
SYNOPSIS

After Soviet jet pilot Capt. Vinka Kovelenko is forced to land and taken prisoner by the Americans when she violates American territory in Germany, the Russian heroine reports to U.S. colonel Newt Tarbell that she fled Russia because of resentment over a comrade’s promotion. When Tarbell suggests that her reaction is in part due to her disillusionment with Communist rule, Vinka adamantly testifies that she remains a staunch Communist. Seeking to gain support for American ideals by publicizing the conversion of the infamous Russian to democracy, Tarbell cancels Capt. Chuck Lockwood’s two-week leave and orders him to “sell her America.” That night in her room, Vinka, surmising Tarbell’s plan, complains to Chuck that he is not handsome enough to seduce her, but agrees to dine and dance with him. After several hours of drinking with him, Vinka tries to convince Chuck to join the Communists. The captain, desperate to finalize his plans to marry heiress Connie in London, suggests studying Communist literature together in London, out from under the U.S. military’s watchful eye. The next day, after Tarbell agrees to the trip, he gives Vinka $100,000 as a bonus for leaving Russia, expecting her to spend the money and succumb to western ideals. Meanwhile, at the Russian Trade Mission in London, Col. Sklarnoff and officer Dubratz order Vinka’s ex-lover, Ivan Kropotkin, an awkward, shy engineer, to break up the fledgling romance between Vinka and Chuck. After the couple checks into adjoining rooms at a hotel, Chuck sneaks away to meet Connie and sign their marriage license, telling her that his assignment will prevent him from seeing her. Soon after, Ivan finds Vinka in the hotel lobby and begs her ...

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After Soviet jet pilot Capt. Vinka Kovelenko is forced to land and taken prisoner by the Americans when she violates American territory in Germany, the Russian heroine reports to U.S. colonel Newt Tarbell that she fled Russia because of resentment over a comrade’s promotion. When Tarbell suggests that her reaction is in part due to her disillusionment with Communist rule, Vinka adamantly testifies that she remains a staunch Communist. Seeking to gain support for American ideals by publicizing the conversion of the infamous Russian to democracy, Tarbell cancels Capt. Chuck Lockwood’s two-week leave and orders him to “sell her America.” That night in her room, Vinka, surmising Tarbell’s plan, complains to Chuck that he is not handsome enough to seduce her, but agrees to dine and dance with him. After several hours of drinking with him, Vinka tries to convince Chuck to join the Communists. The captain, desperate to finalize his plans to marry heiress Connie in London, suggests studying Communist literature together in London, out from under the U.S. military’s watchful eye. The next day, after Tarbell agrees to the trip, he gives Vinka $100,000 as a bonus for leaving Russia, expecting her to spend the money and succumb to western ideals. Meanwhile, at the Russian Trade Mission in London, Col. Sklarnoff and officer Dubratz order Vinka’s ex-lover, Ivan Kropotkin, an awkward, shy engineer, to break up the fledgling romance between Vinka and Chuck. After the couple checks into adjoining rooms at a hotel, Chuck sneaks away to meet Connie and sign their marriage license, telling her that his assignment will prevent him from seeing her. Soon after, Ivan finds Vinka in the hotel lobby and begs her to forgive him for cheating on her, but Vinka despises him for his disloyalty. Later, in her room, when Vinka tries to instill Communist values in Chuck by citing exaggerated anti-American propaganda, Chuck compliments Vinka’s sincerity. Charmed, Vinka kisses him, sends him to his room for the night but then finds excuses for visiting his rooms repeatedly. Later, when Connie and her cousin, Tony Mallard, unexpectedly drop by to question him about the Russian, Chuck describes her as a “human ice cube” just as Vinka enters Chuck’s room unannounced, dressed only in his pajama top decorated with her medals, prompting Connie to leave in a jealous fit. The next day, when Vinka, spying a lingerie shop window, asks Chuck if he finds the accoutrement necessary for sex, he eagerly agrees. When Vinka questions him about his love for Connie, Chuck concedes that the heiress does not have enough “fire.” Meanwhile, Tarbell, Maj. Lewis and Senator Howley invite Chuck and Vinka to the Russian Bear restaurant in hopes of witnessing Vinka’s conversion firsthand. Before the evening begins, Vinka buys lingerie and an exceptionally feminine gown, which stuns the guests, including Connie and Tony, who have surprised Chuck by showing up unannounced. Later, Vinka, tipsy from champagne, dances with Chuck and shows him her red garters to entice him to return with her to Moscow. Soon after, Ivan tries to cut in on the dance floor as part of the Communists’ plot to kidnap Vinka, but she has little interest in dancing with him. Later at the dinner table, when the senator explains that there is no class distinction in the United States by using Chuck’s humble background as an example, Connie is shocked to learn her fiancé is a pauper. As the evening comes to a close, Russian female spy Tityana distracts Chuck while another spy, acting as a bartender, drops a sedative in his drink. When Tarbell orders Chuck to return to his duties and drinks the potion himself, Tarbell becomes comatose. As Chuck escorts Tarbell to taxi, Soviet martial arts specialist Sutsiyawa tries to attack him, but Chuck, assuming the man is drunk, easily knocks him out. When Chuck returns to the dance floor with Vinka, Connie decides she is finished with the “bankrupt bore.” As Connie leaves, spy Maria mistakes her for Vinka and kidnaps Connie in the cloak room. After the Russian bartender spikes Chuck’s drink with a sedative, a woozy Chuck returns to the hotel with Vinka, who, while helping him undress, discovers the marriage license and assumes that Chuck has deceived her. A resolute Vinka then goes to the Russian Trade Mission to seek return passage to Moscow, but is instead accused of treason for receiving the $100,000 check and subsequently sentenced to death. When Chuck learns of Vinka’s fate, he goes to Ivan’s room and tries to convince him that Vinka had successfully converted him to Communism. After Tarbell and other officers, who have been eavesdropping outside the door, burst in to arrest Chuck for treason, he flees down the fire escape, steals a car and drives to the Soviet Trade Mission. Upon entering the front door, Chuck is tackled by Maria and then escorted to Sklarnoff. Having been alerted by Tarbell that Chuck has been arrested for treason, Sklarnoff locks him in a cell until the Americans can come to claim him. Chuck soon convinces his guards that they should desert the Russian military and “officially” inducts them into United States military service on the condition that they obey their superiors without question. He then orders them to take him to the Russian base, where a plane is waiting to return Vinka to Moscow. After Vinka, Sklarnoff and Dubratz board the plane, Chuck, dressed in a pilot’s uniform, jumps into the cockpit and taxis the plane down the runway. Once in the air, Sklarnoff discovers Chuck at the controls and holds him at gunpoint until they land in Moscow, where Sklarnoff proudly marches his two prisoners off the plane where a large military delegation is waiting. Instead of arresting Chuck and Vinka, however, the soldiers arrest Sklarnoff and Dubratz and announce that the mission has been abandoned by the Soviets, who are seeking to repair their relationship with the United States. After Chuck announces that he and Vinka plan to be married, the story of the love between the American and the Communist makes world news. When Ivan presents the couple with the $100,000 check as a wedding present, Vinka insists she has all she wants as she grabs Chuck's arm, but the cautious captain takes the check as a "souvenir.”

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

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