Jimmy (Edmund O’Brien), Eddie (Johnny Sands), Mike (Steve Brodie) and Ollie (Richard Erdman) are Army vets who live as members of the “52-20 club,” surviving on $20-per-week unemployment benefits afforded them as they re-adjust to civilian life after the war.
At the unemployment office one day, the men meet Jean Madison (Wanda Hendrix), an ex-WAVE who is also scrimping by on $20 a week. Jimmy quickly dubs Jean “The Admiral” and decides to show her how to make the most of her check.
Jimmy, Jean and the rest of the gang head to a bank to open brand new accounts with their checks, which they will close the same day. For opening the accounts they’re given free piggy banks, which they then sell to a pawn shop for a quarter. Since they live for free in an empty aircraft factory and get most of their meals from the club where Mike stands in for the lifeguard, $20.25 isn’t too shabby an amount to get by on each week.
Jean is thankful for the advice given to her by Jimmy and his friends, but all she really wants to do is catch a bus back to her hometown of Walla Walla, where she thinks her husband-to-be, Henry, is waiting for her.
Meanwhile, Jean has unknowingly been followed by private detectives, hired by a man named Peter Pedigrew, “The Juke Box King.” Peter threatens to put an end to their jobless lifestyle by hiring them all unless they find a way to keep Jean in town until Henry really returns.
Albert S. Rogell (The Black Cat, In Old Oklahoma) directs 1950’s The Admiral Was a Lady. The script was penned by John O’Dea (The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin) and Sidney Salkow (Twice-Told Tales).
Jimmy, Eddie, Mike and Ollie aren’t the most responsible bunch, but they’re quite lovable. The performances by all four actors are solid.
Wanda Hendrix is also very good as “The Admiral.” She has a ton of charm, though her character isn’t terribly multi-dimensional.
None of the characters in this film are too deep. The film is another piece of light, comedic entertainment from the Nifty Fifties set. It offers up some physical comedy, though most of the laughs are situational or through the dialogue.
The Admiral Was a Lady is an enjoyable addition to this collection of public domain flicks from the ’50s. Though of course it is no masterpiece, it’s still a good watch. The score: 3.8/5
Like Three Husbands, Mill Creek’s print of The Admiral Was a Lady runs a tiny bit short. The original run-time is listed as 87 minutes on IMDb, while this DVD runs at 86. One minute of film isn’t a huge loss, but when there’s any time discrepancy I can’t help but wonder what was lost!
As for quality, the picture is a bit fuzzy here, but it isn’t too bad otherwise. There isn’t a ton of distortion, and the sound quality is good.
For those of you who don’t own the Nifty Fifties set and are interested in discovering the adventures of the Admiral and her men, this film is available on the Internet Archive.