On an Island With You (1948)

Navy Lieutenant Larry Kingslee (Peter Lawford) is one of actress Rosalind Reynolds’ (Esther Williams) biggest fans.  He even had a chance to meet her during World War II when she was doing a USO show and chose him to do an act with her.  During her act, she kissed him, but even though it was just part of her job to Rosalind, it meant a whole lot more to Larry.  Luckily for Larry, though, he gets to meet Rosalind again a few years later when she films a movie where he’s stationed.  Since the movie is about Rosalind’s character falling in love with a Naval officer, Larry is asked to serve as a technical consultant.  The only problem is that Larry is still carrying a torch for Rosalind and her fiance Ricardo Montez (Ricardo Montalban) is playing the Naval officer her character falls in love with.

While shooting one day, Larry feels like Ricardo isn’t playing the scene with enough passion, so he tries to demonstrate how he thinks the scene should be played (because apparently technical consultants have directorial authority over a movie).  During his demonstration he kisses Rosalind and decides that he’s going to get Rosalind away from Ricardo if it’s the last thing he does.  His love of Rosalind is hardly a secret, though.  When the crew goes out to a nightclub one night, Rosalind turns down his offer to dance so she doesn’t lead him on and Buckley (Jimmy Durante) tries to get him to go after fellow actress Yvonne (Cyd Charisse) instead.  Even though Yvonne is Rosalind’s friend, she’s secretly got a thing for Ricardo.

Back on the set, Larry is needed to circle his plane around with Rosalind on board.  However, he doesn’t just circle around once like he’s supposed to.  Instead, he flies off with Rosalind to the secluded island where they first met years earlier.  At first, he just intends to be gone for an hour so he can make Rosalind dance with him and declare his love for her.  But then some of the island natives take some parts from his plane and they’re stranded.  Rosalind is furious and tries to explain that she was just doing her job at that USO show.  To prove that she can kiss someone without feeling anything, she kisses him again, but this time she does feel something.  The next day, Larry sets out to find the natives and get his parts back, but while he’s gone, Ricardo, Buckley, and a search party come and rescue Rosalind.  Buckley stays behind to find Larry and finds him having a feast with the natives.  When they get back, Larry finds himself in plenty of hot water for this stunt.  Not only is he fired from the movie, but he’s also in trouble with the Navy for improper conduct.  Rosalind tries to save him, saying going to the island was her idea, but he insists on taking the blame.  The relationship between Rosalind and Ricardo just isn’t the same after she returns and he begins to go after Yvonne instead.  When Larry comes to apologize to Rosalind, she kisses him and they live happily ever after.

On an Island With You just fell flat all around.  It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t remarkable either.  There was nothing noteworthy about the story and the way Larry dragged Rosalind off to an island and made her dance struck me as creepy and stalkerish rather than romantic.  Esther Williams, Ricardo Montalban, and Peter Lawford all have made far better movies, but if you’re a Jimmy Durante fan, you might want to see this one.  Even though Esther, Ricardo, and Peter were the stars, Jimmy Durante was a total scene stealer.  Even during Esther’s swimming scenes, I was more eager to see Jimmy again.    I’d watch it again if nothing else was on, but I’d be hard pressed to highly recommend it to anybody other than Jimmy Durante fans.

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