The Story

"The Skipper Surprised His Wife"

After a year at sea, young Commander William Lattimer (Robert Walker) is given leave from his destroyer in order to attend a two-months training course in San Diego.

This means a reunion with his wife, Daphne, (Joan Leslie), and his two small sons (Tommy Myers and Rudy Lee).

But his gala return home is marred when Daphne trips over a roller skate and breaks her ankle.

Bill volunteers to take over the housework and the youngsters between classes but after a few days of bedlam he sees that there is definite need for a systematic routine.

In the meantime, Daphne, who hopes to get Bill out of the Navy so that he can spend more time at home, invites the neighboring Rita and Joe Rossini (Jan Sterling and Anthony Ross) over to dinner. Joe, the owner of a fishing fleet, offers Bill a job but the latter turns his offer down.

Daphne now conspires with Agnes Thorndyke (Spring Byington), wife of Admiral Thorndyke (Edward Arnold), who is also secretly working to get her husband out of the Navy. The Admiral has been offered an executive post in a large airplane factory and by clever maneuvering the girls figure that Bill can become his assistant.

But, first he must succeed in making a good impression on the Admiral. To save time and energy in his housekeeping, Bill decides to apply Navy methods by managing the house as he would a ship.

Acting as commander, he appoints Daphne and the boys his shipmates and sees to it that they carry out his orders with maximum efficiency. But his strict, loveless routine soon begins to dampen their spirits.

When Bill unwittingly muffs his chance for the job with the aircraft plant, Daphne tells him off and walks out, taking the boys with her.

Now realizing that a home can’t be run like a ship, Bill eliminates his time-saving devices and promises Daphne that he will quit the service despite an offer to serve as Admiral Thorndyke’s operations officer.

Ready to compromise for the sake of Bill’s happiness, Daphne resigns herself to being a Navy wife and sends the man she loves back to sea.

M-G-M based its screen play on a true story which appeared in a national weekly. A Navy officer, Commander W. J. Lederer, took over the household duties when his wife fell and broke her ankle. By applying Navy methods for five weeks, he not only cared for his wife and two small sons, but ran all phases of household work, including cleaning, cooking, laundering and entertaining, in addition to working in an office from nine a.m. until five-thirty p.m.!

Copyright MGM


"Skipper Surprised His Wife"