getTV Mickey Rooney Blogathon: OPERATION MAD BALL (1957)

Jack Lemmon got his first leading role in Richard Quine‘s OPERATION MAD BALL (1957), a screwball military comedy with an entertaining cast that includes Ernie Kovacs, Kathryn Grant, Arthur O’Connell, Mickey Rooney, Dick York and James Darren.


With a screenplay co-written by Arthur Carter, Jed Harris and Blake Edwards, OPERATION MAD BALL is about a group of American GIs stationed at the 1066th General Hospital in Normandy at the end of World War II.  Led by Private Hogan (Lemmon) the group puts together a complicated plot they call “Operation Mad Ball” to throw a huge party in hopes of quelling their boredom, which is no easy task given their commanding officer is the by-the-book Captain Locke (Kovacs).  Hogan is determined, however, to make the Mad Ball a reality despite military rules and regulations and sets forth to recruit the assistance of many of his fellow servicemen who are hungry to party with the nurses.  Among those whose talent and resourcefulness Hogan enlists are his partner in crime, Corporal Bohum (York) and crafty transportation officer, Sergeant Yancy Skibo (Rooney).  Rooney’s contribution to OPERATION MAD BALL is small, but memorable…

Hogan and Bohun visit Skibo to get the Commanding Officer shipped back to the U.S. so the coast is clear for the mad ball…
The jive-talking Skibo says “no can do” to the scheme…
York, Rooney and Lemmon
Until he learns he’ll be invited to the Mad Ball and imagines his moves with the nurses.

In order to make Operation Mad Ball a success, Hogan and his troupe stop at nothing, including feigning serious diseases and injuries.  While little in this mad cap story is believable, a great cast led by the talented Mr. Lemmon whose brisk timing sets a wild pace makes for an enjoyable time in OPERATION MAD BALL.

If you’re interested in watching OPERATION MAD BALL you can do so on getTV tonight (September 1st) at 8 pm est. and twice on September 18th as part of the network’s themed Thursday nights dedicated to Mickey Rooney, who would have celebrated his 94th birthday on September 23rd.  You can access the entire getTV schedule here and check to see if getTV is available in your area here.

This post is part of The getTV Mickey Rooney Blogathon hosted by Once Upon a ScreenOutspoken & Freckled and Paula’s Cinema Club taking place throughout the month of September. Please visit the getTV schedule for details on Rooney screenings throughout the month and any of the host sites for a complete list of entries.


13 thoughts

  1. Aurora, OPERATION MAD BALL may not be a classic, but it sure works fine for a likeably goofy service comedy with a swell cast, including Lemmon, Team Bartilucci fave Ernie Kovacs, Dick York, Mickey Rooney, Grant (later Mrs. Bing Crosby in real life). And Blake Edwards on the screenplay, to boot! It might not have won Oscars, but it’s good fun all the same! 😀

    1. Hi Dorian – I agree. BTW, I was too lazy to look it up, but Grant looked very familiar to me, but I couldn’t place her. I don’t remember her from movies, but from the Christmas specials with Bing on TV! THANKS! Now I can sleep. 🙂 This was Kovacs’ first feature too. Anyway, thanks much for stopping in!


  2. Hi, Aurora:

    I had a chance to take a long, deep glance at ‘Operation: Mad Ball’ when I was critiquing Mr. Lemmon’s talents for Ruth at Flixchatter last year, An exception service comedy that hits all the right notes. Not just with using back lots as very passable ‘Tent Cities’ for myriad G.I.s. But also for letting a young Jack Lemmon romp and play in the kind of characters he would hone to perfection in later films. Opposite a contemplative, rubbery faced Ernie Kovacs.

    His Pvt. Hogan is spot on for many celluloid and real life schemers I’ve met and rubbed elbows with in real life. Backed up by the perfect “Gofer” in Cpl. Bohum. And his over the top, rhyming, flip side of Andy Hardy
    cousin, Sgt. Yancy Skibo.

    Mr. Rooney excels at fast talking. And in this film, he’s given every opportunity to wallow and slosh around and be an overgrown, lecherous kid! Physically loose and fluid. While being wound up tighter than a drum on the inside. As he juggles diverse parts of supplying the musical entertainment into something that rocks out loud at the film’s end!

    Very nicely done!!!

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