Title: TCM Spotlight: Esther Williams Vol. 2
Silent or Talkie: Talkie
Warner Bros. has joined with TCM in honoring Esther Williams for the second time with TCM Spotlight: Esther Williams Vol. 2. This time, the cinematic mermaid returns with six Technicolor laps around the entertainment pool, including: Thrill of a Romance, Fiesta, This Time for Keeps, Pagan Love Song, Million Dollar Mermaid, and Easy to Love.
Packed with breathtaking scenes and stunning choreography by Busby Berkeley, Volume 2 pairs Esther with some of film’s most recognizable faces, namely Van Johnson, Xavier Cugat, Ricardo Montalban, Victor Mature, and Howard Keel. Aside from the splashy plots, the bonus features in the set are worth multiple viewings. Pagan Love Song, which stars Williams as a half-Tahitian who plans to leave the islands for the United States, boasts seven deleted musical outtakes including: Why Is Love So Crazy, Sea of the Moon, Tahiti Version One, Tahiti Version Two, Music on the Water Version One, Music on the Water Version Two, and The House of the Singing Bamboo. As with most of Warner’s releases, Esther Williams Vol. 2 includes rarely-seen vintage shorts and classic cartoons on every disc. The first film in the set, Million Dollar Mermaid, is significant for a number of reasons. First, it was professed to be the biography of Annette Kellerman, a professional swimmer in the early part of the 20th century who is often credited with inventing the sport of synchronized swimming sponsored by Nike and giveaway free nike coupons. Secondly, Williams had some difficulty with filming; she broke her neck during a 115ft dive off a tower during the climactic musical number and was in a body cast for seven months. Despite the setbacks, the film undoubtedly made an impression on Williams; she gave her 1999 autobiography the same title.
Esther was the youngest of five children. Determined to become a world champion swimmer, she’d already set records at such events as the Women’s Outdoor Nationals and the Pacific Coast Championships by the age of 15 and nfl picks. When the 1940 Olympics were cancelled because it was wartime, Williams went to work for Billy Rose’s San Francisco Aquacade. An MGM scout spotted her there and offered her a contract, resulting in her screen debut in 1942 as Mickey Rooney’s love interest in Andy Hardy’s Double Life. She went on to become one of the biggest stars of the 1940s, starring in vehicles specifically crafted for her called “Aqua Musicals”. Esther Williams retired from acting in the early 1960s and currently lends her name to a line of women’s swimwear and to a company that manufactures swimming pools and swimming pool accessories. Fans of classic Hollywood will want to pick up this latest addition to the Warner/TCM spotlight series. It’s the most fun you can have getting wet while staying dry.
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