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The Iron Petticoat
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Iron Petticoat More at IMDbPro »

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Worse Than Its Reputation Would Have You Believe

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
31 December 2012

The Iron Petticoat (1956)

BOMB (out of 4)

Every once in a while I'll watch a film with a bad reputation and find it not nearly as bad as you'd have believed. When I heard that the Bob Hope Estate pretty much removed this film from circulation I figured it was just a movie not up to his standards but that's nowhere near the truth. I don't often say this but I think everyone would have been better served had this turkey remained in a vault and not seen by the public. The story centers around a Russian refugee (Katharine Hepburn) who learns her country and gets involved with an American (Bob Hope) ordered to watch after her. This is a minor re-working of NINOTCHKA but who knows what the original story was since there were so many production problems including Hope bringing along his own writers to change everything up. I rarely use a BOMB rating for any older movie but man was this thing here horrible. It was really very painful to watch because it's just so unfunny, so bad and it's just hard to believe that two legends would be involved in something this bad. As soon as we see and hear Hepburn with that Russian accent you're brain pretty much shuts off. Hepburn was one of our greatest actresses but I think it's safe to say this here is one of her worst performances. Hope is equally bad and his one-liners, written by his own writing team, are horrendous. The lack of chemistry between the two stars is incredibly bad as well. THE IRON PETTICOAT is about as bad as any movie can get and sadly for the viewer it never reaches a level of camp or a "so bad it's good" level. When I said this film was painful to get through that's the absolute truth and no one should sit through this unless they want to see how bad it actually is.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A lost film that could have stayed lost

5/10
Author: jjnxn-1 from United States
29 May 2013

Very minor reworking of Ninotchka with Hope and Kate, whose accent is all over the place, sharing little to no chemistry. The script is weak but if Cary Grant, her best costar, had appeared in this as originally planned it might not have been a classic but because of their rapport a much better film than it is.

A product of much backstage enmity. Hope and Hepburn disdained each other and Hope and the film's writer Ben Hecht fought to the point they took the battle public in printed ads denouncing each other, the resulting picture hardly seems worth it. A flat, inert misfire necessary only to completist of the starring duos work.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Katherine Hepburn's worse movie.....locked up until now (sigh)

1/10
Author: johos3 from United States
16 December 2012

I do love Katherine Hepburn and Bob Hope. Although I constantly watch Turner Classic Movies and see rare films, I never even heard of this one. After viewing it today, I know the reason.....it's very very dull and silly, but not in a good way. Hepburn, a multi-Academy Award winner, has always been able to do it all. Drama, Humor, even a bit of Thriller. What she obviously can't do is a Russian accent! The host of TCM mentioned that Hepburn grew more uncomfortable with the role and had eye problems, so her role in the movie was reduced to favor Bob Hope. I did notice that he gets top billing .....over Kate Hepburn! Both actors were either in their 50's or approaching that age. The romantic roles look awkward and silly. There's absolutely no chemistry between them.

They should show respect for these wonderful actors.....and keep this disappointing dog in the vault!

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Bring Down the Curtain-Iron Petticoat *

3/10
Author: edwagreen from United States
10 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Abysmal Bob Hope-Katharine Hepburn film of 1956 that fails to achieve its takeoff on "Ninotchka."

Why does it fail so badly? It essentially becomes a Bob Hope vehicle with many of his corny one-liners. He even brings in the Democrats to lighten things up.

This is a story of a Soviet military lady who flies to the west when she is passed over for a promotion. What follows is sheer lunacy where our government brings military man Hope into the picture to soothe the lady.

The scene of trying to get Hepburn back to the Soviet Union by utter duplicity becomes tiresome at best.

The ending tries to depict a change for moderation at the Soviet government. No wonder writer Ben Hecht was disillusioned by this farce and wanted his name removed from the credits. A colossal bomb.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Red Square

5/10
Author: writers_reign from London, England
20 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hard to believe this was written by Ben Hecht but he gets sole screenplay credit on screen though IMDb throws in a nod to Harry Saltzman, not previously known to me as a writer but had he written the whole thing it would be quite believably. Neither is Hecht celebrated as a gag-writer and it's crystal clear that Hope used his clout to insert typical Hope-type one-liners from his stable of writers. The film was shot in 1956 and perhaps significantly Silk Stockings (Cole Porter's last Broadway musical), a musical version of 'Ninotchka', opened on Broadway in 1955. Whilst it's true the main plot has been jettisoned there are still links notably a strong Russian female venturing into the West and being 'Westernised' via an item of clothing, in Garbo's case a hat, in Hepburn's a negligee. Apart from the two leads the film is fleshed out with a B-team of British journeymen, Sid James, Richard Wattis, etc with the seriously wooden Canadian Paul Carpenter in a hefty supporting role. More value as a novelty entry than anything else.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Hope and Hepburn Lay an Egg

1/10
Author: wes-connors from Earth
29 May 2013

Russian-accented war heroine Katharine Hepburn (as Vinka Kovelenko) lands in West Germany, where she is captured by the American military. Authorities expect her to announce a defection, but Ms. Hepburn wishes to remain a Communist. At the same time, wise-cracking US pilot Bob Hope (as Charles "Chuck" Lockwood) is about to enjoy a leave from military service. His superior officers cancel Mr. Hope's leave and order him to seduce Hepburn into the pleasures of Capitalism. Hope uses liquor and masculine charms, but Hepburn turns out to be a tough nut to crack...

This is a wretched re-make of "Ninotchka" (1939). Hope is typical. Hepburn is terrible. A performer of Hepburn's caliber so poorly attempting Greta Garbo is almost impossible to fathom - this is an embarrassing effort. Reportedly, Hope cut a substantial amount of her material; if this is the best they filmed, he was doing Hepburn a favor. Hope's remaining one-liners and light slap-schtick are almost as awful. They wisely hid "The Iron Petticoat" from public viewing until 2012, when viewers were able to determine whether the film was either a lost classic or a train wreck.

No contest.

* The Iron Petticoat (6/30/56) Ralph Thomas ~ Bob Hope, Katharine Hepburn, Noelle Middleton, James Robertson Justice

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The limburger cheese of Hope or Hepburn films

1/10
Author: vincentlynch-moonoi from United States
17 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Paramount -- Bob's primary film home for so many years -- must have been deliriously happy that they had nothing to do with this film. Not just because it was a box office flop, and a critical flop, but also because it must be the most embarrassing film that either star (Bob Hope and Kathryn Hepburn) ever made. I was not aware of this film because it had never been shown on American television until recently. I can see why. It stinks! I enjoyed most of Bob Hope's earlier motion pictures, but at about the same time he made this film he transitioned into a new phase in his movie career where Hope apparently began to see himself as a screen lover. That was the end of my appreciation of Bob Hope on film. He was much funnier playing the poor guy who is rather inept with women. Unfortunately, here he is the romantic interest, and to be honest some of the hokey skits on his television specials were far better than this.

Katharine Hepburn must have been embarrassed over this film. Stomping around like someone's idea of a female Russian jet pilot. I just found myself rolling my eyes while writing this paragraph! How could Hepburn (or someone) not see how badly this film was going? The plot? Stupid. From the minute the opening score begins, you know you are headed for disaster.

I'm appalled at this film, and I'm going to give it the lowest rating I've ever given a film -- "1" -- and that's only because you can't register a "0".

You've been warned!

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Sid James sweeps Katherine Hepburn off her feet...Brilliant!

6/10
Author: ianlouisiana from United Kingdom
18 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You can't say that about many movies!"The Iron Petticoat" is a bizarre relic of the 1950s with a smug Bob Hope hogging the limelight and a grimly determined Katherine Hepburn fighting a rearguard action with a pantomime Russian accent and a very smart wardrobe. Mr Hope is the USAF officer to whom Miss Hepburn - a pilot in the Soviet air force overlooked for promotion - defects,and he is tasked with her "Americanisation".Cue lots of dated one - liners from him and conspicuous displays of cheekbone from her. The plot concerns the efforts of the Russians who understandably regard her as a traitor to take her back and the Americans who regard her as a propaganda coup to hang on to her. In later years of course they would have simply killed her with a poisoned umbrella,but the comparative naivety of the Russians as they try to kidnap Miss Hepburn gives us ample opportunity to relish the joys of the splendid British supporting cast,notably Mr J.R.Justice,chain - smoking,cold and calculating,and Mr Sid James with a preposterous wig and a vaguely "foreign" accent who turns out to be a wizard on the dance floor in contrast to Mr Bob Helpmann the great choreographer and dancer who,like John Travolta 40 years later in "Pulp Fiction" insists he is unable to dance at all. Miss Noelle Middleton remains rather aloof from it all as Mr Hope's betrothed. The movie is being given a run on "Film on Four" at the moment and is worth watching if only for the moment when Mr James,displaying nifty footwork,twirls Miss Hepburn towards certain death at "The Russian Bear" nightclub.Keep that back straight Sid,and the elbows just a little higher,please.

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6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Odd Cold War comedy buoyed by its stars

7/10
Author: gaityr from United Kingdom
2 February 2002

This movie is by no means one of the classics in any sense: it's entertaining, occasionally LOL-funny, but nothing spectacular. Bob Hope plays Chuck Norwood, an English captain eager to marry into the British upper class; Kate Hepburn plays Vinka Kovelenko, a tough-as-nails Russian flying ace who defects because she feels discriminated against in Communist Russia.

What's odd, and possibly most positive, about this Cold War comedy (written and produced at the height of tensions between the US and the USSR) is that there is no moralising or preaching. No propaganda. In the end, it's simply a romantic comedy about opposites attracting.

And such opposites! Hepburn is great as Vinka--her trademark energy barely reined in, her Russian accent a little OTT but passable. Watch for the moment when she sits on a cushion in front of Chuck--she gives her one unguarded smile in the film, and it becomes obvious why Chuck (and everyone else) falls in love with her so quickly. Hope was on fine wisecracking form, although this is marred by the fact that he tried to dominate the movie from behind the scenes, bringing in his own team of joke-writers to increase his own footage. (Hepburn kept quiet as her role shrank proportionately, the most comedic scenes apparently landing on the cutting room floor--ever the professional.)

Bizarre, but interesting if you want to see Hepburn speaking in a Russian accent and examining a pushup bra with a look of utmost disdain on her face.

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10 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

When will this be released again?

4/10
Author: theowinthrop from United States
6 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the great mystery movie for fans of Hope and Hepburn. First of all it is the sole time they ever appeared in any movie together. Secondly it is dated - it has to be seen recalling what the heart of the Cold War was like in 1956, the year of the Hungarian Up-rising and the Suez Crisis. Apparently it is more available for viewing in Great Britain (it was a British film). I have never seen it listed on any American television station. Isn't it about time they would show it - just to settle our curiosity about this particular pairing? My suspicion it would not be great movie viewing, but it would be interesting anyway. At least we could compare it to it's "cold war" film comedy predecessors (NINOTCHKA, COMRADE X, and SILK STOCKINGS).

Addendum: February 20, 2008 - Finally I see the film.

Some films have to be seen to see why they were never repeated. Bob Hope did enjoy working with certain actresses many times, most notably Dorothy Lamour and Lucille Ball. But he made this one film (in 1956) that was with Kate Hepburn, and it is certainly not the best film either of them ever played in. Both were highly capable performers/stars. Both were good in comedy. But there is no chemistry between them, and they are in roles they don't fit.

Hope is a hotshot heroic U.S. pilot, hoping to marry an English aristocrat (Noelle Madison) for financial reasons. He is pushed into an assignment by his commanding officer (and supposed friend) Alan Gifford to put his romance on hold while romancing Russian pilot - heroine Kate Hepburn. Now Hepburn is not defecting. She took her MIG fighter (this film may be the first that mentioned the term "MIG" for a Russian plane) to England out of anger at being by-passed for a promotion for an inferior rival who is a man. She is not anti-Communist, and Gifford's hopes that Hope will make her into a propaganda victory for the West.

The Russians are led by James Robertson Justice (supposedly the head of a trade commission - it was a running joke that trade commissions on both sides were loaded with KGB and CIA agents). He is determined to bring Hepburn back to face trial as a traitor to Russia. He uses the services of her helpless ex-boyfriend Robert Helpmann. But Helpmann is really a weak reed to lean on. Justice tries alternative ideas, including kidnapping Hepburn when she is with Hope, Gifford, a jealous Madison, a Senator from Alabama (Alexander Gauge), Madison's cousin (Nicholas Phipps), and an air force major (Paul Carpenter). This too fails, despite the large number of agents that Justice brings with him (they include "Carry On" Sid James, Tutte Lemkow (from A SHOT IN THE DARK, THE WRONG ARM OF THE LAW, and THE WRONG BOX), and David Kosloff - Carl in INDISCREET). Also on hand, in one sequence, is Richard Wattis as a woman's clothing store manager.

It just doesn't work. The sequence in the nightclub is the best highlight in the film, due to the accidental failure of each plot that Justice tries to spirit Hepburn away, but it's not one of the great moments of comedy (Madison is the best in the sequence, though Gauge's really dense senator has some fun talking with Nicholas Phipps about why the British drive on the left side of the road).

Really the lack of chemistry between the stars does the film in. ugh Hepburn tries to develop some but Hope can't relate to her. I think it's because she is too cerebral an actress. He was at home with someone like Lamour or Hedy Lamarr or Joan Fontaine, who was regular not sparkling. I don't think he ever realized what a misfire the casting opposite Kate was until it was too late.

The irony is I can't see this story working well with many actors. It has been suggested that Tony Curtis (who did a film at this time, THE PERFECT FURLOUGH, set in Paris - as a military man), and maybe Nathalie Wood might have worked well. But it's hard to say. It does not look well compared with other similar plots. Hepburn's purchase of western feminine dinner clothes reminds one of a similar trick in NINOTCHKA where Garbo bought that symbolic Paris hat. Similarly, Hepburn's attempts to teach Hope how to accept Communism does resemble how Garbo tries to indoctrinate Melvin Douglas. But Douglas actually does show an interest in communist theory (to the fright of his butler). Hope really could not care less (although when he gets drugged he starts mumbling about Bakunin and the "Iron Law of Wages"). The Gable - Hedy Lamarr film COMRADE X also was clever, particularly in the spoof of the Stalin - Trotsky rivalry between Oscar Homolka and Vladimir Sobeloff. Let's face it, those two films were far better than this. SILK STOCKINGS is a musical version of NINOTCHKA, but it's Cole Porter's music, with Astaire and Cyd Charisse's dancing, and there are some good swipes at Hollywood and American's lackadaisical view of other country's cultures. It too is far more worthy of watching than this film.

Now that I have seen it, I will give the film only a "4" for the scene in the nightclub. But please, don't bother with this film if you really like Hope's best work, or like Hepburn's better comic parts as in DESK SET or ADAM'S RIB (with a more chemically correct film partner in both: oh Spencer, where were you?).

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