|Neptune’s Daughter (1949)
Run time: 95 min
Genres: Comedy | Musical | Romance
Director: Edward Buzzell
Writers: Dorothy Kingsley, Ray Singer
Stars: Esther Williams, Red Skelton, Ricardo Montalban
In this light and tuneful romantic comedy, Esther designs swimsuits (what else?); Red supplies the comic antics; and Ricardo joins Esther in the award-winning song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. Bubbly fun!
Release Date: June 1949 (USA)
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Esther Williams had some fairly amusing comedies in the ’40s that had her jumping into a pool every so often to keep her "Million Dollar Mermaid" label intact. She not only swims here, but joins in the fun and even lends herself to a funny rendition of "Baby, It’s Cold Outside" with Ricardo Montalban while Red Skelton is doing his own version of the song with Betty Garrett. It’s a wacky bit of fun about Red being mistaken for a polo player. He has some wild slapstick scenes–one of which has him joining a bevy of bathing beauties as he attempts to fit into a water ballet (reminiscent of his hijinks in "Bathing Beauty"). His partner in fun is Betty Garrett who delivers her own special brand of comedy with no strain at all.
Ricardo Montalban is an excellent foil for Esther’s romantic scenes as the wealthy polo player. The blurb on the video jacket offers a quote from the N.Y. Times: "The most entertaining of all the aquatic spectacles in which Esther Williams has starred."
‘Nuff said. Enjoy!
I am astonished about the low rating of this movie! There are of course many musicals which are boring and this one – I admit – does not feature very much. No great songs (despite "Baby it's cold outside – Oscar!), no great dancing and absolutely no great acting. But there is something to make the film special: The comedic timing is perfectly, the gags drop fluently. The supporting roles are fantastic: Red Skelton at his best and the absolutely wonderful Betty Garrett to team him (they should have made more movies!). Xavier Cugat and his orchestra play enthusiastic samba rhythms, the decoration of the picture is bright and joyful! There is no single boring moment, the whole film is like a short trip to the Caribbean sea with a fancy cocktail in your hand!
Hey, this is a topper. One of the best of WILLIAMS swim films, mainly because it has the great Betty Garrett. Her scenes are wonderful, and she and Red Skelton are wonderful together. The Red and Betty seduction scene where he's trying to act like a Spaniard is sensational and wait until he tastes Garretts appetizer. Sheer genius. The new DVD copy is terrific, sharp and clear. Yes, its MGM's clean-cut studio bound movie, but it's what MGM did best. Haven't seen the other WILLIAMS movies in the collection yet, but am looking forward. Also looking forward to another volume and hope that her best, yet under-rated SKIRTS AHOY is included. See this for pure fun.
Two of MGM's biggest box office attractions teamed once again for the film Neptune's Daughter in 1949. Esther Williams and Red Skelton certainly brought their own respective fan bases for this film. With these two MGM was fighting the good fight against the increasing drawing power of television which would certainly soon claim Skelton.
Esther Williams and scatterbrained mantrap sister Betty Garrett are peddling a new line of swimwear and no one could certainly model her own designs better than Esther Williams both in and out of the water. But she's constantly worried about all the boyfriends that Garrett is finding and then discarding. Better to keep a close eye on her.
Enter masseuse Red Skelton at the club resort that Williams and Garrett are staying. He's got no luck with women at all. So he seeks advice from South American polo player Ricardo Montalban who's a devil with the ladies. Red not only seeks advice, but he appropriates Montalban's character name of Jose O'Rourke. That causes some real problems when Montalban courts Williams and Williams learns somebody named Jose O'Rouke has been calling on Garrett.
Red has some really inventive comedy routines one involving tricking Mike Mazurki into thinking he needs a spinal adjustment while he's being held against his will. And the climax is a hilarious polo match where Skelton substitutes for Montalban in a polo match where gamblers are trying for a fix. I've seen many different sports lampooned in film, but Neptune's Daughter is the only film around that took to satirizing polo.
Frank Loesser who was really coming into his own as a writer of both music and lyrics did the score for Neptune's Daughter. Loesser had a big hit in Charley's Aunt running on Broadway and was working on another project when Neptune's Daughter came out, a musical based on Damon Runyon characters called Guys And Dolls. Played instrumentally, but not sung is his previous hit On A Slow Boat To China done during a fashion show sequence involving Esther Williams's swim suits.
And Loesser brought home the film's Oscar for best song with Baby, It's Cold Outside. Montalban and Williams do it first and later there's a comic obbligato from Skelton and Garrett. The big selling record for this song came from Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark in a duet recorded just before Clark was killed in a plane crash. It's a delightful and bouncy number that readily lends itself to satire. I have bootleg recording of a radio broadcast where Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester do it. Turn that one over in your minds.
Topping it all off is a water ballet by Esther and they typically got bigger and better in films as she tried to top herself. Williams was really fortunate that her career was with MGM because it would only be a major studio that would have invested the production values in her films.
Because of that this very charming musical comedy holds up very well for today's audience.