June 10, 2013

Movie Monday: Esther Williams Tribute

I’m very glad to be resurrecting my Movie Monday series, however it is with sadness I am featuring this special event.

The beautiful and talented Esther Williams passed away last week. Selfishly, I am sad because this means I will never get to meet her. Not that the chances were ever good, but still, she was at least alive.

Of course, she’s most famous for wearing bathing suits, but she really was a great actress, very warm and with great comedic timing. Every movie of hers, even some of the “lesser” ones, are a treat to watch because she is a treat to watch.

I did a mini-bio on Esther Williams a while back, so I won’t repeat all of that here. It really is a Cinderella story and you should go read it. She wanted to go to the Olympics, but wound up becoming Silver Screen swimming sensation!

TCM is doing a mini-film marathon in tribute to her this Thursday featuring some of her best work, including my favorite of her films. You absolutely don’t want to miss it!

7:00 pm CST: Bathing Beauty (1944) – Caroline Brooks (Esther Williams) breaks her engagement to Steve Elliott (Red Skelton) after a horrible misunderstanding. She runs away to an all-female university to be an athletics teacher to forget about her broken heart. But Steve follows her and finds a legal loophole that lets him enroll as one of her students, in an effort to win back her love. Also starring Basil Rathbone, Donald Meek and Xavier Cougat.

9:00 pm CST: Neptune’s Daughter (1949) – My favorite Esther Williams film! Eve Barrett (Esther Williams) is a professional swimmer-turned-swimsuit designer who has devoted her entire life to her career and her younger, man-crazy sister, Betty (Betty Garrett). When a South American polo player (Ricardo Montalban) and a dimwitted masseuse (Red Skelton) get mixed up with the sisters, hilarity and romance put her business on the back-burner.

10:45 pm CST: Million Dollar Mermaid (1952) – The sentimentalized biopic of Annette Kellerman, an Australian swimmer who used swimming to overcome polio and went on to become an Australian athletic icon and a movie star in her own right. Without Annette Kellerman, there likely would have been no Esther Williams, so it’s appropriate she was able to pay homage to her forerunner. Also starring Victor Mature and Walter Pigeon.

12:45 am CST: Dangerous When Wet (1953) – Katie Higgins (Esther Williams) comes from a family of fitness enthusiasts who decide they will be the first family to swim the English Channel. Sponsored by traveling salesman Windy Weebe (Jack Carson), Katie trains under the supervision of Frenchman Andre Lanet (Fernando Lamas). Who will win her heart?

2:30 am CST: Andy Hardy’s Double Life (1942) – Esther William’s big screen premiere, one of the many installments in the Andy Hardy series. Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) is heading to college, and decides that being tied down to long-time girlfriend Polly (Ann Rutherford) isn’t something a college man would do. Polly decides to get revenge with a little psychological warfare, and enlists pal Sheila (Esther Williams) to teach Andy Hardy a lesson about taking women for granted.

4:15 am CST: The Thrill of a Romance (1945) – Cynthia (Esther Williams) is a swim teacher swept off her feet by businessman and workaholic Robert (Carleton G. Young). They get married and leave immediately for their honeymoon, but before the honeymoon can begin, he has to leave her for a business meeting, but promises to return in a few days. While Cynthia waits at the resort for her husband-in-name-only, she meets handsome, sweet WWII veteran Thomas (Van Johnson). Who will she end her honeymoon with?

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