The Admiral Was a Lady

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The Admiral Was a Lady
The Admiral Was A Lady (Movie Poster).jpg
The Admiral Was a Lady (1950) film poster
Directed by Albert S. Rogell
Produced by Edward Lewis (associate producer)
Albert S. Rogell (producer)
Jack M. Warner
Written by John O'Dea
Sidney Salkow
Starring See below
Narrated by Edmond O'Brien
Music by Edward J. Kay
Cinematography Stanley Cortez
Edited by William H. Ziegler
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • August 4, 1950 (1950-08-04)
Running time
87 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Admiral Was a Lady is a 1950 American comedy film directed by Albert S. Rogell. The working title of the film was Once Over Lightly that was the title of one of the songs in the film.

Edmond O'Brien co-stars with Wanda Hendrix, whose name inspired the movie's original poster: “The Admiral was a Lady but she taught these ex-GI’s maneuvers they’ll never forget!!! … it’s zany in a wandafull sort of way!”


She's in for a wild ride, when Jean Madison (Wanda Hendrix), a WAVE ensign, meets the crew of an Army Air Corps A-20 Havoc light bomber named Cynthia. The men are living high as members of the "52-20 Club," a program in which unemployed American veterans receive $20 unemployment benefits for 52 weeks.[1]

When receiving her own cheque, Jean meets their leader, Jimmy Stevens (Edmund O'Brien), who recruits her. Jimmy has proven his men are looking for work with a classified ad, "Combat Crew for hire; eager and willing to drop bombs", but has had no offers in post-war America.

Jimmy shows her how to avoid the cheque-cashing fees by opening an account with a bank where she is rewarded with a ceramic piggy bank, which they take to the pawn shop for some more money. The gang lives free and luxuriously in an empty aircraft factory, where Jimmy is a night watchman. Eddie, (Johnny Sands) artfully makes their furniture out of aircraft parts and other war surplus. They get their meals discounted, for stale stock, or in trade, as when Mike (Steve Brodie) stands in for the lifeguard at a private club. Former taxi driver Ollie (Richard Erdman) drives them around in a sound truck, from a local music store. Jimmy's fast-talking even gets them a ride on a speedboat for an ocean jaunt.

All she wants to do is get on the bus back home to Walla Walla. But things aren't quite that simple when Jean learns that her fiancé, Henry, is not waiting for her as expected.

The crew is summoned to juke box king (Rudy Vallee) Peter Pedigrew's office. Pedigrew has private detectives following Jean and the crew. He threatens to put them to work, ending their idyllic lifestyle, unless they keep Jean with them until her fiancé Henry arrives.

Pedigrew explains that his ex-wife Shirley (Hillary Brooke) intends to marry Henry. But the only way Pedigrew can remain solvent is to remarry Shirley, for the third time, and stop paying her alimony. So, he wants the crew to get Henry and Jean back together. Reluctantly they agree, under duress; they take the "Admiral" under their wing.

Jean, whom the gang has nicknamed "The Admiral,” is amazed, then disgusted by their spending more effort thinking of ways to avoid work than being productive members of society. However, she discovers that they are living a dark secret. Jimmy feels guilty for Mike's injuries when their plane crashed during the war. Jimmy, the former head of an employment agency, will not rest until all his crewmembers have resolved things. Jimmy even takes Mike's place in a boxing match, since the injuries could kill Mike, though Jimmy has never been inside a ring in his life before.

In the end, Pedigrew catches up with Shirley, Henry is waiting for Jean, and Eddie realizes he needs to go home to find out if his girlfriend will love him, even if he is poor. Finally, Pedigrew agrees to set up Mike and Ollie in business.

So, that only leaves Captain Jimmy, finding he's in love with the Admiral, just as she's about to ship out. It's been a wild ride; but, it's not over, yet.


Marvelle Andre, Jean Bane, Lane Chandler, James Conaty, Warren Douglas, Ralph Dunn, Sam Finn, Sam Flint, June Glory, John Halloran, Phil Harron, Eddie Kane, Mike Lally, Larry Mancine, Frank Marlowe, Spec O'Donnell, Eddie Parks, Bob Rich, Jack Roper, Brick Sullivan, Lurene Tuttle, and Ralph Volkie appears uncredited.


Once Over Lightly and Everything That's Wonderful composed by Al Stewart and Earl Rose.

Home media[edit]

The film is in the Public Domain, and readily available on DVD, or on-line, with various running times, between 83 –87 minutes.[2]


  1. ^ Monday, Aug. 01, 1949 (1949-08-01). "VETERANS: Halted Gravy Train". TIME. Retrieved 2012-01-26. 
  2. ^ "The Admiral Was a Lady (1950) - Overview". Retrieved 2012-01-26. 

External links[edit]