Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Tonight's Movie: Neptune's Daughter (1949)

NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER is a perfect example of 1940s MGM escapism: It has a wonderful cast, fun storyline, gorgeous costumes, glowing Technicolor, lovely sets (that swimming pool!), and bright songs including the Oscar-winning "Baby, It's Cold Outside." All this, and Cugie too! Not to mention a glorious Esther Williams swim finale to wrap the whole thing up with a bow.

The movie stars a cast of real favorites of mine, Esther Williams, Ricardo Montalban, and Betty Garrett.

The plot is some nonsense about a swimsuit designer (Williams) who's pursued by a polo player (Montalban), while the designer's goofy, man-hungry sister (Garrett) mistakes a masseuse (Red Skelton) for the polo player, with amusing results.

I'm not usually much of a Skelton fan, but he's quite good in this one, perfectly teamed with Garrett in one of her best film roles. They have a number of amusing moments. The juxtaposition of Montalban and Williams' sophisticated rendition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with the giddy performance by Skelton and Garrett is delightful.

The other songs by Frank Loesser include the lilting "My Heart Beats Faster" and the bouncy "I Love Those Men." There's also a truly spectacular "Jungle Fantasy" orchestra sequence staged at "Casa Cugat." This number and the final swim ballet are each reminiscent of Busby Berkeley numbers.

The supporting cast includes Xavier Cugat, Keenan Wynn, Theresa Harris, Ted de Corsia, and Mike Mazurki. There's also the fun of seeing Mel Blanc performing onscreen; the voice is unmistakeable! Bit parts are played by recognizable faces such as Dee Turnell and Bess Flowers.

NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER was directed by Edward Buzzell from a screenplay by Dorothy Kingsley and others. Charles Rosher (SCARAMOUCHE) was responsible for the attractive Technicolor cinematography. The especially lovely wardrobe for this film was by Irene.

The movie was released on VHS in 1995. Most recently it was released to DVD as part of the TCM Spotlight Collection titled Esther Williams, Volume 1

NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER is also shown on Turner Classic Movies. The trailer can be seen here.

I've been recovering from some surgery this week, and as was the case a few years ago, I've found that MGM musicals, which I first came to love as a child, are great "go to" films when I'm not feeling 100%! There's just nothing like MGM fun to perk up the spirits. But there's certainly no need to wait for illness or surgery in order to enjoy one of these wonderful films! Highly recommended for 95 minutes of Technicolor bliss.

2023 Update: NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER is now available on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection.  My review of the disc may be found here.


Blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Hope you're feeling better soon, and that you have an arsenal of such movies to help. I suspect you do.

6:29 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

You've got it, Jacqueline, I've sure got a stack! :) It was real progress I could stay awake long enough to watch an entire movie (grin), from here on out it should be smooth sailing thanks to that, LOL. Your good wishes are very much appreciated.

Best wishes,

7:52 AM  
Blogger Jazmin's said...

I'm an infrequent commenter, but I read almost every post of yours for the past year and half. Thanks for all the reviews and it's a great blog.

Sorry to hear about your surgery and I hope you take it easy.

Neptune's Daughter is a joy to watch and I love Ricardo with Esther almost as much as I loved him with Jane Powell in the delightful Two Weeks With Love.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Jazmin, I'm so delighted to know you've been enjoying my blog, I appreciate you letting me know very much. And it's great to hear from another fan of NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER! I'm also a big fan of TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE. :)

Thank you as well for the good wishes!

Best wishes,

1:43 PM  
Blogger Kevin Deany said...

Laura: Hope you feel better soon. Best of luck in your recovery. And yes, you are absolutely right about the glories of the M-G-M musicals. take care of yourself.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Kevin,

So glad to know you appreciate MGM musicals too. :) Thank you very much indeed for the good wishes!

Best wishes,

9:35 AM  

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