Vintage Video:: Swimming with Esther Williams at the movies

Winter’s cool weather means more time spent inside, playing games, getting cozy and watching movies!  With that in mind, I thought it was the perfect time to continue my series on my favorite old movies that are super family friendly—as well as cinematically stunning!

My love of old movies started for me when my Dad scored press tix to the premiere of That’s Entertainment. I remember being in awe of the movies and didn’t understand that those old folks in the front of the theater were the stars that danced and sang on the screen. Ah, youth!  I was totally the weird kid that had a crush on Gene Kelly instead of Kirk Cameron–whatever, I still stand by that!  But it did kindle in me a life-long love of old movies and even led me to consider majoring in film history in college.  Let’s just say that Hitchcock class was one of the best course I took in college!

It has been wonderful introducing the Peach to my favorite vintage films when I was a kid as we dip our toe into watching films at home now that she can watch something longer than an 45 minutes.  Since the Peach had so much fun over the holidays swimming in my parents’ pool, I thought she would be interesting in Esther Williams.

Oh, Esther Williams! I think almost everyone is familiar with her name, but probably not her movies. Well, folks you are in for a technicolor underwater treat!

I think Esther Williams has one of the most interesting “discovered” stories around! The infamous cancellation of the 1940 Olympics during WW2 led to this bathing beauty’s career.  Since she didn’t have a goal of gold on her mind, she took a job at a department store, which led her to being plucked from anonymity by famous movie producer Billy Rose (who was married to Fanny Brice of Funny Girl fame) from her department store clerk position to star in Acquacade, an all swimming, all singing, all dancing spectacular at the 1939 World Fair. I KNOW!  There is so much awesomeness in that sentence… And of course Esther Williams made quite the splash! (Pun intended!)

And so started her glorious career as Hollywood’s favorite swimming sweetheart! MGM had a swimming pool built on its lot solely for her! And boy did she make good use of it, starring in some of the most marvelous eye shatteringly stunning movies ever.

Esther Williams is dazzlingly beautiful and I find her acting charming and she’s clearly super smart and very fun in real life.  She is a wonderful good sport/foil to some of MGM’s funniest leading men. I recommend checking out Neptune’s Daughter
in which Esther stars across Red Skeleton and a dreamy Ricardo Montalban! And Million Dollar Mermaid has the most insanely gorgeous swim numbers choreographed by wildly creative Busby Berkeley.

Another great one is Dangerous When Wet, which sounds so naughty, but features Esther swimming with Tom & Jerry!

And hoo boy, the costumes.  Or should I say bathing suits. Fabulous! Speaking of bathing suits, are you familiar with Esther Williams line of bathing suits? They are magnificent to say the least and must be made of magic because they turn you into an immediate glamour girl. ModCloth carries them as well. Seriously, they look good on every woman I know regardless of the different body type. And may we all look as great at 91 as Esther does today. Esther makes chlorine seem like an secret anti-aging serum!

Let’s take a peek at her magical swimming moves! (the magic begins :42 seconds in!)

If this doesn’t get your kiddo begging for swimming classes, I don’t know what will. In fact, I had the Peach watch it before her swim class and it made all the difference.

Have you ever watched any of Esther Williams’ films?

Catch some of my other Vintage Video reviews here!



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