Esther Williams

Simpson Sunday — Lisa Simpson: Million Dollar Mermaid

Esther Williams Million Dollar Mermaid

Season 6, Episode 1: Bart of Darkness

During a major heatwave, Bart and Lisa beg Homer and Marge to get a swimming pool at home. When they finally relent, the swimming pool has the unintended effect of making Bart and Lisa the two most popular kids at Springfield Elementary. But after Bart breaks his leg, he’s forced to watch Lisa and all the other kids have fun in the pool from his bedroom window, which includes an homage to the elaborate Busby Berkeley-directed musical numbers from various Esther Williams movies, featuring Lisa as a stand-in for Esther.

Simpsons Busby Berkeley Musical Parody

Lisa Simpson as Esther Williams

What’s on TCM: April 2015

Anthony Quinn

Happy April, everyone! Ready for a new line-up of movies to look forward to?

Anthony Quinn will be TCM’s Star of the Month for April and his movies will be featured every Wednesday night this month. The theme for this month’s Friday Night Spotlight is A. Arnold Gillespie, MGM’s top visual effects artist. He helped bring some of MGM’s most famed movies to life, including The Wizard of OzSan Francisco, and Forbidden Planet, just to name a few.

One thing that will definitely be worth setting your DVR for is on April 14. TCM will be airing an all-star tribute to Robert Osborne, which was taped at the 2014 TCM Film Festival. I didn’t get to see it in person, but I heard it was one heck of an event, so I’m excited to finally see it for myself.

Now, let’s get on to the schedule!

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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.

What’s on TCM: May 2011

It looks like May is going to be a pretty busy month on TCM!  Esther Williams is the Star of the Month and since her movies tend to make me want to spend some time in the pool, I’d say she’s a good choice to help get you in the mood for summer.  This month you will also get a chance to catch the series Moguls and Movie Stars again.  If you missed it when it premiered back in November, it’s very much worth checking out.  Near the end of the month will be TCM’s annual Memorial Day weekend marathon of classic war films.  There are also a lot of great birthday tributes coming up including Jimmy Stewart, Katharine Hepburn, Bing Crosby, Henry Fonda, Audrey Hepburn, and Rudolph Valentino.

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Ziegfeld Follies (1945)

Part 3 of my Ziegfeld in Hollywood series.

In a way, Ziegfeld Follies is kind of like Man With a Movie Camera: they’re both movies that are rather difficult to write about since neither one has a real plot.  They’re both concept movies.  In the case of Ziegfeld Follies, the concept is Florenz Ziegfeld (played once again by William Powell) in Heaven planning a show featuring some of the greatest film stars.  The movie is a true all-star extravaganza featuring the likes of Judy Garland, Esther Williams, Lena Horne, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Fanny Brice, Kathryn Grayson, Red Skelton, and Lucille Ball in a series of musical numbers and comedy sketches like you might see in the Ziegfeld Follies.

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