Dangerous When Wet (1953)
For this technicolor Esther Williams musical we get our swimming star fending off the advances of the cocky, loud and boisterous Jack Carson only to settle into the arms of Latin lover type Fernando Lamas.
Williams plays a farm girl this time out living a peaceful life in the country. Her father played by William Demarest is a health nut and leads his family in daily exercise and swims at the local swimming hole. Into their life comes the bigger than life promoter Jack Carson. He represents the drink/medicine Liquapep and after seeing Williams is inspired to enter her into a contest to swim the English channel.
Once the family arrives overseas Carson tries his best to win over Esther and go about his Don King style of promoting her. Little does he know that Lamas has entered the scene and our singing swimmer has lost her heart to him.
Near the midway point we are treated to cartoon favorites Tom and Jerry turning up here frolicking underwater with Esther while doing a song and dance routine.
There’s also a fun scene of Lamas buying Esther a rather scandalous bathing suit that plays out to a good laugh for the viewer although Esther pulls the shade on us.
The best musical bit in this Charles Walters directed film would have to be the song and dance number “Ain’t Nature Grand.” What’s nice about musicals from yesteryear is how even the supporting roles get to join in the fun. I had no idea that William Demarest would be joining in song as well as trying his best at being a hoofer. Same goes for Carson. In the studio days, everyone pitched in when called upon.
Charles Walters specialized in light comedy musical features and would go on to work with Frank, Bing and Grace on High Society as well as the Debbie Reynolds hit The Unsinkable Molly Brown. This is the second feature I have watched from the TCM collection Volume 1 on Esther. The other being Neptune’s Daughter. They both make for an enjoyable viewing with talented performers surrounding Miss Williams.
Of note is the fact that 16 years later our two leads, Williams and Lamas would be married in real life and remain so until Lamas passed in 1982.