From the periphery, someone might misunderstand why the forgotten 1956 Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn comedy "The Iron Petticoat" was put out of circulation after many decades. At the time the film came out, it likely pushed some buttons to see a Soviet pilot (played by Hepburn) trying to persuade an American Captain (Hope) to live in her homeland. Likewise, astute Soviets were undoubtedly miffed over the U.S. propaganda of showing Hope's character taking a financial bribe to persuade Hepburn's character to work for America.
The real reason for the film being stored away for decades is because of a feud Bob Hope had with the original writer of the story, Ben Hecht. The latter had written a different script tailored specifically for Katharine Hepburn. Hope's writers took over the production and essentially turned it into a Bob Hope comedy with his character as the main focus.
All of the above brought a war of words in the press that persuaded co-producer Hope to shelve the film by the 1970s. But the plot of the movie is one that had already been done a number of times before (mainly as nod to 1939's "Ninotchka"), with curiously no remakes after "Petticoat" was made. The Hepburn character (Vinka Kovelenko) could easily be altered today to a female pilot from a very different rogue country.
You could expect such a remake now that "The Iron Petticoat" is finally seeing the light of day after being hidden away for over 40 years. Turner Classic Movies is premiering it the evening this article is being written, plus a Blu-ray release this same month. It's a happily found missing piece of Hollywood history, if only to see what the chemistry was between the disparate personalities of Hope and Hepburn.
What could be done, though, to remake the project so it could fit closer to Ben Hecht's original intention? No doubt the original Hecht script is still in a file bin through the writer's estate. Should it see the light of day with a modern rewrite to update the country and situations, there's always the risk that the same battle could play out again with a new comedian.
Yes, when we see how much Hollywood repeats history, you can easily see a "Petticoat" remake being designed for a brilliant actress and then reformulated by studio suits as an Adam Sandler comedy.
If by chance they kept it the other way, there shouldn't be anybody else other than Meryl Streep who is the Hepburn of our time. The only question is what should the new rogue country be now that the Cold War has long warmed? Going by the mistake of the new "Red Dawn" remake, it shouldn't necessarily be North Korea.
Iran would be the logical pick, particularly because many of the people there don't have hate against America. Of course, that means Streep playing an Iranian military pilot (yes, in all fantasy), and perhaps knocking noses with a comedian. That doesn't necessarily mean the male lead absolutely has to be a comedian as Hecht perhaps originally intended.
No matter what would be done, it's an idea that's only been ignored due to lack of exposure. This time, it might cause real backlashes if the idea is kept of the U.S. military tempting money to a Captain if he persuades a perceived enemy to help win our war.