Reviews

The Esther Williams Collection Volume One DVD

Distributor: Warner Home Entertainment

Region 1 | NTSC | Not Rated
Available to buy

Extras: Yes

cast
Esther Williams, Red Skelton, Cyd Charisse, Jimmy Durante, Fernando Lomas (Esther’s real life husband)

See this is why the golden age of Hollywood beats hands every movie made today, where else would you get a collection of musicals featuring a champion swimmer turned glamour girl actress. The gorgeous Williams made quite a splash (pardon the pun) during the 1940’s and 1950’s in a whole raft of fun filled musical excursions that saw her become of the top ten box office stars of the day.

Fox had previously hit big with skating star Sonja Henie so MGM thought they’d have a try with a swimming star (Williams was a world champion swimmer and would have probably won gold at the 1940 Olympics which of course were cancelled with the outbreak of world war II) and in the process coined the phenomenon of Aqua Musicals!

From the start her movies were big budget Technicolor specials (her debut had been planned as a small scale black and white movie called Mr Co-Ed but the studio quickly realised her star potential and Bathing Beauty was born. Her biggest hit was probably 1953’s Dangerous When Wet (which is included in this box set and features Tom and Jerry amongst the co-stars) and she retired with great grace in 1961 to be a housewife and only emerged in the late 80’s and 90’s to participate in a few select projects (That’s Entertainment 3 amongst them).

If you like Hollywood musicals then you are going to love these, and like all the recent Warner’s classic movie releases they all come packed with vintage extras that help re-create that whole night at the movies feel.

THE MOVIES
Bathing Beauty (1944)
Rambunctious funnyman Red Skelton joins Esther Williams in this buoyant (literally) comedy about a lovesick songwriter who enrolls in a women’s college to woo 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.

Special Features:
Robert Osborne hosts TCM’s Private Screenings with Esther Williams, Oscar nominated Short Main Street Today, Academy Award winning Cartoon Mouse Trouble and the Theatrical trailer

On an Island with You (1948)
Moonlight swims, swaying palms, Technicolor sunsets and…cannibals?! Esther Williams, Peter Lawford, Ricardo Montalban and Cyd Charisse get the swimming, swaying and sunsets and Jimmy Durante gets the cannibals in this tune-filled paradise for fans of musical comedy. The frothy plot follows a swimming movie star (Williams, who else?) pursued by two handsome suitors on the set of her latest film, but the main point is mostly the songs, romance and Esther in a sizzling series of swimsuits and sarongs.

Special Features:
Vintage Romance of Celluloid series short Personalities, Classic cartoon The Bear and the Hare, Theatrical trailer,

Easy To Wed (1946)
In this fast-paced, romantic comedy – a remake of the screwball 1930’s classic Libeled Lady – the comic bits are legion, with two standouts: Van Johnson afloat with a baleful spaniel who knows a lot more about duck hunting than he does, and a laugh-out-loud drunk scene that uncorks the incomparable lunacy of Lucille Ball. When the local paper runs an untrue story claiming an heiress (Esther Williams) is a husband stealer, she prepares to sue for libel. So a newspaper honcho (Keenan Wynn) devises a counter scheme to compromise her image: He’ll arrange a sham wedding between his fiancée (Lucille Ball) and a newsroom Romeo (Van Johnson), send the Romeo to woo the heiress, and make the phony story come true!

Special Features:
Oscar nominated Pete Smith Specialty comedy short Sure Cures, Classic cartoon The Unwelcome Guest, Theatrical trailers of This Movie and Libeled Lady

Neptune’s Daughter (1949)
Longing for a Latin lover, boy-crazy Betty Barrett (Betty Garrett) mistakes girl-shy Jack Spratt (Red Skelton) for the South American polo team captain José O’Rourke (Ricardo Montalban). Meanwhile, the real O’Rourke pursues Betty’s elegant sister Eve (Esther Williams). Soon mistaken identities and romantic complications spin into a dizzy mix of slapstick and flirtatious fun. All is set to terrific Frank Loesser songs, including Baby, It’s Cold Outside, winner of the 1949 Best Song Oscar®. The film ends not only happily-ever-after but with (would a Williams fan expect anything less?) a stupendous water ballet.

Special Features:
Outtake musical number I Want My Money Back, Esther Williams cameo sequence from 1951’s Callaway Went Thataway, Oscar Nominated Pete Smith Specialty comedy short Water Trix, Oscar nominated cartoon Hatch Up Your Troubles, Theatrical trailers of this movie and Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Dangerous When Wet (1953)
The “just add water” formula works again in this lighthearted mix of romance, music and comedy directed by Charles Walters (Easter Parade). Williams plays Katy, a farm girl who finds romance (with Williams’ future real-life husband Fernando Lamas) while training for a swim across the English Channel. In the film’s key sequence, Williams swims, swirls and swoops with cartoon stars Tom and Jerry in a concoction “brimful of attractive people and attractive performances” (Clive Hirschhorn, The Hollywood Musical).

Special Features:
Outtake musical number C’est La Guerre, Pete Smith Specialty comedy short This Is a Living?, Classic cartoon Name to Come, Esther Williams musicals trailer gallery





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