A Lemmon a Day Keeps the Kovacs at Bay
September 1945 and the war is over although for the men of a US army detachment stationed at a hospital in France stickler for discipline Capt. Paul Lock (Ernie Kovacs) makes sure there is no slacking from his men especially anyone he sees fraternising with a nurse. That doesn't stop quick talking Pvt. Hogan (Jack Lemmon) from bending the rules as he sets about putting on a secret dance for the men and women before Capt. Lock gets his way and has him court martialled after catching him fraternising with the pretty Lt. Betty Bixby (Kathryn Grant) whilst on guard duty.
Thank you Jack Lemmon for being such a quick talking comic genius for it is your talent which can turn just another day in to something special. I say that because having started my day with "Operation Mad Ball" it raised my spirits and put me in a good mood as it is one of those sorts of movies where the exploits of a quick talking soldier makes you smile. In fairness it's not just Jack Lemmon who makes "Operation Mad Ball" as Ernie Kovacs is as much fun as a stickler for the rules and everyone of the cast has great comic timing but Jack Lemmon playing it slick is what makes the movie.
But here is the thing about "Operation Mad Ball" and the reason why for me it is not up there with the likes of "Operation Petticoat", the story is small. Now that doesn't make the storyline bad but the whole humour of Hogan and his buddies organizing a secret dance is better suited to say an episode of a sitcom such as "Sgt. Bilko" or "M*A*S*H". As such there are times when you get a sense the writers were clutching at straws for some scenes to try and draw this out to movie length.
What this all boils down to is that if you are a fan of war comedies involving a quick talking rule bender you are going to enjoy "Operation Mad Ball" as thanks to Jack Lemmon and the great cast assembled around him it is a lot of fun with lots of great lines. But the premise is slim and as such this does occasionally feel like the writers have had to drag some scenes out to get this to movie length.