DirectorRichard Quine Music directorGeorge Duning Duration CountryUnited States
WriterArthur Carter, Blake Edwards, Jed Harris Release dateAugust 17, 1957 CastJack Lemmon (Private Hogan), Ernie Kovacs (Capt. Paul Lock), Mickey Rooney (MSgt. Yancy Skibo), Dick York (Cpl. Bohun), James Darren (Pvt. Widowskas), Kathryn Grant (Lt. Betty Bixby) Similar moviesAll Ladies Do It, Sliver, Cashback, The Lover, The Voyeur, Claude Chabrol's High Heels
TaglineIt's Operation Laughter For You! and anything goes!
Operation Mad Ball is a 1957 military comedy from Columbia Pictures, produced by Jed Harris, directed by Richard Quine, that stars Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs, Kathryn Grant, Arthur O'Connell, and Mickey Rooney. The screenplay is by Blake Edwards, Jed Harris, and Arthur Carter, based on an unproduced play by Carter.
In a hospital unit in the U.S. Army in Europe after World War II, Private Hogan (Jack Lemmon) does not believe that a blue-stocking can be good-looking, but the first sight of dietetic nurse Lieutenant Betty Bixby (Kathryn Grant) sets him straight. When he picks her cigarette lighter up and puts his weapon aside, he is surprísed by security officer Paul Locke (Ernie Kovacs) who admonishes him for putting down his weapon while on guard duty and confines him to quarters preliminary to a court martial. The Colonel in charge of the unit (Arthur O'Connell), however, would prefer to keep everything "in the family" and avoid a court martial.
Soon, Hogan plans to organise a ball at an off-limits hotel with all the prettiest nurses and his fellow soldiers. Hogan and Cpl. Bohun (Dick York) go through all sorts of mishaps to make sure that the secret Mad Ball goes ahead. Hogan uses a General's X-ray and pretends it belongs to him to win the sympathy of Lt. Bixby, whom he wants to take to the ball. Hogan claims to be suffering from heartburn and an ulcer, and Bixby recommends dietetic changes. When Betty finds out that the X-ray doesn't belong to Hogan, she falls out with him, leaving both Betty and Hogan secretly sad to have lost each other.
On the night of the ball, each soldier has been paired with a pretty nurse, except Hogan. He waits for Bixby, hoping that she has forgiven him, but he ends up going to the ball on his own. When he arrives, he sees Betty with the Colonel. She takes off her long coat to reveal a pretty dress. At the end, she shares the last dance with Hogan.
This film marks the first time that Jack Lemmon received top billing in a film, and was also the first major screen role for Ernie Kovacs.
Awards and honors
1958 Golden Laurel Award - 2nd place - Top Male Comedy Performance - Jack Lemmon
1958 WGA Award (Screen) - Nominated - Best Written American Comedy - Arthur Carter, Jed Harris, Blake Edwards