TCM Spotlight: Esther Williams Vol. 2
Six New-to-DVD ‘Aqua-Musicals’
from America’s Favorite Mermaid.
The ravishing bathing beauty who pioneered a new genre of
moviemaking -- “Aqua Musicals” -- splashes once more in
Warner Home Video and Turner Classic Movies’ TCM Spotlight:
Esther Williams Volume 2. This highly anticipated follow-up to
the 2007 TCM Collection includes the DVD debuts of six
Technicolor films from classic Hollywood’s swimming superstar.
Each of these MGM musical favorites have been newly
remastered especially for this DVD release.
About the Films
Thrill of a Romance (1945)
Van Johnson and Esther Williams headline this frothy musical,
just the ticket for a World War II-weary nation yearning for
laughs, romance and glamour. And that’s exactly what they got,
plus swinging Technicolor„¥ tunes from Tommy Dorsey and his
Orchestra and operatic grandeur from famed Wagnerian tenor
Lauritz Melchior in his film debut.
Newlywed swimming teacher Cynthia Delbar (Williams) has
everything a girl could want for her honeymoon: a posh
mountain lodge, glorious weather and a drop-dead trousseau.
The only thing missing is her tycoon groom, who chose closing a
deal in DC over cuddling with his brand-new missus.
A pretty sorrowful situation – until a good-looking war hero
staying at the hotel decides he needs swimming lessons.
Glamorous Williams forsakes her trademark swimsuit for a
matador’s red cape and black montera in the colorful film Fiesta.
Williams portrays Maria, disguising herself as her twin brother
Mario (Ricardo Montalban in his first credited U.S. film) and
enters the ring in his place after he abandons bullfighting for
classical music studies. An Oscar-nominated score* (including a
restyling of Aaron Copland’s “El Salon Mexico”) spices up this
gender-bender tale. Lovely Cyd Charisse plays Mario’s partner
in dance and romance.
This Time For Keeps (1947)
Whether soaring from the high board or redefining grace in
a lavishly choreographed water ballet, Esther Williams is at her
radiant, swim-suited best in this lighthearted aquatic musical
centered on her romance with an ex-GI (Johnnie Johnston).
Settings include Michigan’s picture-perfect Mackinac Island,
with notable supporting stars providing specialty numbers.
Famed tenor Lauritz Melchior brings his artistry to La Donna
È Mobile, Xavier Cugat (with signature tea-cup Chihuahua
at hand) adds big-band élan to the proceedings and
Jimmy Durante delightfully dismantles his piano.
Pagan Love Song (1950)
Esther Williams and Howard Keel share the bliss of this
eye-filling musical excursion which includes the rhapsodic title
tune and a charming Rita Moreno (in her third movie role as a
spunky islander). Pristine Hawaiian locations fill in for the story’s
Tahitian setting. Of course, where there’s an island, there’s
water, and Esther swimming in it. But in one fanciful sequence
she also swims among the clouds, sending viewers’ spirits aloft
Half-Tahitian beauty Mimi Bennett (Williams) is eager to leave
the easygoing life of Tahiti for the excitement and bustle of the
United States. But when Ohioan Hazard “Hap” Endicott arrives
to manage his late uncle’s coconut plantation, the sparks flying
between them may turn Mimi’s travel plans into wedding plans.
Million Dollar Mermaid (1952)
Glamorous, amphibious Esther Williams portrays real-life
Australian swimming champ Annette Kellerman, in a splashy
biopic co-starring Victor Mature. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
and Oscar® nominated for Best Color Cinematography, the movie
is loaded with stunning spectacle, including a must-see Busby
Berkeley choreographed water ballet extravaganza.
Is this lovely Esther’s signature film? Well, she called her 1999
autobiography The Million Dollar Mermaid.
Easy to Love (1953)
With the Cole Porter classic as the title tune, it’s ‘easy to
love’ this romantic comedy starring Esther Williams and
Van Johnson in their fifth film together. Julie Hallerton (Esther
Williams) knows how to win the affection of indifferent Ray Lloyd
(Van Johnson): Be his office secretary; be the star of his Florida
aquacade and the heart’s desire of a Manhattan crooner to
make Ray jealous. The ploy works, as does everything else in
this aquamusical. Tony Martin lends his smooth vocal styling;
Razzle-dazzler Busby Berkeley guides Esther’s aquatic routines,
including a legendary sequence involving Florida’s Cypress
Gardens, dozens of water skiers, ramps, pyramid formations,
gushing geysers, a helicopter, a trapeze and Esther in the air.
Also fun to note is film’s young Carroll Baker’s (Baby Doll)
Also included are a boat-load of special features, including
rarely-seen deleted musical outtakes, vintage shorts and
classic cartoons. The films will be available only as a
complete collection, in a collectible digi-pak gift set.