Petticoat Pirates (1961, Charlie Drake, Anne Heywood)


CHARLIE DRAKE stars in British comedy Petticoat Pirates about a party of WRENs, under the command of ANNE HEYWOOD, who strike a blow for women’s rights when they rebel against a naval command that says women cannot serve on battleships. To prove that they are at least as good as men, Heywood and 150 women mount a raid on a warship that has only a skeleton crew (including engine stoker Drake) and take control.

What follows is a screwball comedy in which the women enter the war games taking place between the British and American fleets and make the point that in war, women are as good as men. For Drake, it is an opportunity for him to engage in his unique blend of cheeky and slapstick comedy as he dresses up in drag and ogles the sunbathing WRENs. However, despite the women’s prowess at warfare, they – and Charlie – face their toughest challenge when the weather changes and the ship is besieged by fierce storms that threaten to sink it.

Petticoat PiratesThe majority of plaudits went to the supporting cast, although Variety noted that “Drake has a few bright comedy situations.” Of the rest of the cast, it said “CECIL PARKER [as the Commander in Chief] offers another of his well-timed studies in pomposity while JOHN TURNER [as Capt. Michael Patterson – Heywood’s love interest] makes a stalwart, pleasant hero.”

UK / 1961

Writers: Lew Schwartz, Charlie Drake, based on a story by T J Morrison / Director: David Macdonald

Cast: Charlie Drake, Anne Heywood, Cecil Parker, John Turner, Maxine Audley, Thorley Walters, Eleanor Summerfield, Victor Maddern, Lionel Murton, Barbara Hicks, Kenneth Fortescue