The Iron Petticoat (1956)


A Soviet female pilot, Captain Vinka Kovelenko (Katharine Hepburn, The Philadelphia Story), defects to the West because she is tired of gender inequality in the Soviet army. An American officer, Captain Chuck Lockwood (Bob Hope, The Paleface), is assigned to convince Kovelenko that capitalism is indeed better for women, but is it really?

Reaction & Thoughts:

After I watched The Iron Petticoat I had this nagging feeling that I had seen it all before. Something was very familiar about the storyline. It finally hit me — Ninotchka! Basically, this is remake of the popular Greta Garbo movie. The script is credited to Ben Hencht (The Front Page and Notorious) and the opening credits don’t acknowledge the 1939 movie. I sincerely hope that someone from the older MGM classic got some money.

Hepburn is one of my favorite actors and being an obsessive-compulsive completist, I was eager to watch this comedy, one of the few Hepburn films that I hadn’t seen yet. Wow! What a disappointment.

The Iron Petticoat, directed by Ralph Thomas (Doctor in the House and Deadlier Than the Male), works as neither a romantic comedy nor a political satire. Everything that made Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s Ninotchka, and its musical remake Silk Stockings, so much fun is completely absent from this truly awful British production.

Hepburn is one of the few actors that can do comedy and drama equally well. That’s why I was surprised that she’s terrible in a part that doesn’t require much effort. This is clearly her all-time worst performance — the indomitable Kate finally met her Waterloo! Hope is in his element and he does his silly routine well enough. But the actors don’t have any chemistry. Co-starring Noelle Middleton (Happy Ever After) as Connie and James Robertson Justice (The Guns of Navarone) as Col. Sklarnoff.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

The Iron Petticoat is rarely shown on TV. I just happened to catch it on TCM (Turner Classic Movies). If you are curious enough keep an eye on the network’s schedule. But I warn you, don’t expect anything resembling a good movie. Color, 94 minutes, Not Rated.

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