Stars: Esther Williams, Red Skelton, Ricardo Montalban, Betty Garrett, Keenan Wynn, Xavier Cugat & His Orchestra
You know that song that pops up in every search for Christmas music, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside?” It’s always listed as being sung by Dean Martin and Doris Day, but the moment you download and open it, you invariably end up with a version by Paul Anka and a horse. It’s what we, of the jaded modern society, call “The Date Rape Song” because it is literally a mention of Rohypnol away from just being directions for getting into an unwilling girl’s pants. Well, this is where that song was born. In a swimming musical. Set in California. It is a tongue in cheek song about getting busy with a member of the sex of your choosing. IT IS NOT, IN ANY WAY, A CHRISTMAS SONG. This has been a Public Service Announcement. Now, please turn over.
Metro Goldwyn Mayer, reeling from not being the innovators behind ice skating musicals, decided to one-up the competition by creating the swimming musical. They were, for the most part, wildly successful, splashy (pun!) Technicolor extravaganzas, starring the one and only Esther Williams. You may also be familiar with Esther from… haha, no, I’m funning you. Esther IS the swimming musical. That is the only place you know her from, and you ALL know her. If you don’t, there was something severely wrong with your upbringing. Neptune’s Daughter was 5 years into her illustrious bathtime ballets, and is one of the few movies that I’m utterly obsessed with that other people actually like. It also boasts a support roster of brilliant human beings, such as Ricardo “KHAAAAAAAAN!” Montalban, Betty “Edna Babish” Garrett, and Red “Seriously He Needs No Introduction” Skelton. This movie can do no wrong. It is perfect.
Eve Barrett (Esther) makes bathing suits with her business partner, Joe (Keenan Wynn). I mean, my God, it took them how long to figure out that the perfect way to get Esther into a pool was to make her the creator of a bathing suit business? Anyway, her creatively named sister, Betty Barrett (Betty Garrett) is half of the comic relief, alongside Red Skelton. Those two are hilarious together and probably should have toured the US as a team. One of the best dry scenes in the movie is Betty performing “I Love Those Men” while Red does his best on various instruments. Check the scene, courtesy TCM.
Finally, the Really Big Show is performed at what looks to be the Cotton Blossom Water Park. I honestly think it was heavily edited because there are bits that don’t make sense. Yes, I’m the person that looks for coherency and story telling in a water ballet. Whatever. It’s still pretty, Esther is a delight, and Khan Ricardo Montalban shows that he’s got some pretty swanky skills in the pool, too. Check it out, too! Again, via TCM.
You can purchase Neptune’s Daughter as part of the epic 5 movie TCM Spotlight Esther Williams Volume 1 set, at Movies Unlimited. Make sure you follow the official Esther Williams twitter page, too, for lots of fun pictures and news!