TCM Spotlight: Esther Williams, Volume One (Bathing Beauty / Easy to Wed / On an Island with You / Neptune's Daughter / Dangerous When Wet)
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Included in the Bathing Beauty disc is a substantial interview Ms. Williams did with Robert Osborne for Turner Classic Movies. Ms. Williams comes across as somebody who has always been level headed, with a realistic view of life, aware of alternatives and skeptical of show-biz, always marveled at her good fortune (wondering when it would end), with the self-assurance gained from awareness of her personal worth. Nothing delusional there: underneath the Hollywood glamour, throughout her career and beyond, she has retained the mindset and integrity of a committed, champion athlete, i.e., it's the hard work, constancy and achievement that count, not the glitz or the noise (she was slated to participate in the 1940 Olympics had WWII not interfered). All these personal qualities come across in her films, and probably made her a star, unique in her genre. Before, during and after, there was no other. Though she was a fine craftsman and learned her trade well as an actress, she really only played one character, Esther Williams. Audiences flocked to "Esther Williams movies," with all fantasy such would entail (of course, production values count). It is difficult not to feel that she'd be a great friend to have. During the interview Robert Osborne can barely contain his delight.
Suspend disbelief, just enjoy. I hope we don't have to wait as long for Volume 2, which would include Million Dollar Mermaid and Easy to Love.
For fans, I would also recommend reading her down-to-earth autobiography.
So what's the big deal? Aside from the legendary aquatics and the intricately choreographed numbers, the films of Esther Williams are key examples of "They Don't Make Movies Like That Anymore" movies. They don't, and they can't, because the world is really a different place. The simplicity and innocence and sweetness are qualities that exist in a readically different form in 2007.
If your idea of cinematic romance is Tom Cruise telling Renée Zellweger that she "completes" him, or Renée telling Tom that he "had her at hello," these might not be the right films for you. They're more geniune, more honest, and warmer. They represent the absolute best that MGM had to offer.
While "On An Island With You" may not be Ms. Williams' signature film, it has all of the elements that made her films great. Ricardo Montalban, dressed in full navy uniform, strumming a guitar under a tropical tree and crooning the opening theme as Esther swims in a shady lagoon? Genius! The four-way, star-crossed lovers subplot featuring Williams, Montalban, Peter Lawford and Cyd Charisse? The Montalban / Charisse dance number? Jimmy Durante and Xavier Cugat? What's NOT to like in this movie?
The other four films are just as good, but "Island" is a personal favorite.
Thanks to TCM. Can't wait to see which films are included in Volume 2.
Bathing Beauty (1944)
Costars Red Skelton in a comedy about a songwriter who enrolls in a women's college to win back his estranged swimming-teacher wife. Highlights include music from both Harry James and his Music Makers and Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra, Skelton in a pink tutu doing unforgivable things to Tchaikovsky and a spectacular, trendsetting `chlorine-and-chorine' finale.
Robert Osborne hosts "TCM's Private Screenings with Esther Williams"
Oscar-nominated Short "Main Street Today"
Academy Award-winning cartoon "Mouse Trouble"
Subtitles: English (feature film only)
Easy To Wed (1946)
This is a remake of the 1930's screwball comedy Libeled Lady, although outside of the skeleton of the plot the comparisons are few. Particularly funny is Van Johnson afloat with a baleful spaniel who knows a lot more about duck hunting than he does, and a drunken scene featuring the antics of Lucille Ball. Actually, Lucy steals the show in more than a few scenes here. When the local paper runs an untrue story claiming an heiress (Esther Williams) is a husband stealer, she prepares to sue for libel.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Esther Williams is wonderful elegant swimmer she is like floating and dancing in the water she is also very beautiful and very good actress and in all her movies there are also... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lily Ben Yoseph
Great entertainment - Some of her best films! You will want to watch them one right after the other! High recommend these!Published 7 months ago by E. Myers
Esther Williams is 110° in the shade, she looks good in a bathing suit too.
These are all great, fun movies. The video and audio quality is excellent. Read more
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