This is a really good, really entertaining musical. And it has more musical numbers than practically any other movie that isn’t a songwriter’s biography, like “Words and Music”, “Til the Clouds Roll By”, “Three Little Words”, or “Deep in My Heart”. It’s Esther Williams’s first big swimming movie, after 2 films that seem to have been mostly for letting her get used to the camera and to acting in general. She gets second billing under Red Skelton, and Basil Rathbone and Nana Bryant play supporting roles. The credits list Margaret Dumont, but I never found her. Two orchestras are featured: Harry James and his Music Makers with Helen Forrest, and Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra with Lina Romay. In additional there’s the terrific organist Ethel Smith, who never fails to charm with her athleticism and dance moves while she plays . But get a load of these musical numbers!
1. Xavier Cugat and Lina Romay – Bim Bam Bu
2. Carlos Ramirez – Te Quiero Dijiste
3. Esther Williams swims to an orchestral reprise of Te Quiero Dijiste
4. Harry James – Trumpet Blues
5. Ethel Smith – By the Waters of the Minnetonka
6. Ethel Smith – Tico Tico No Fuba
7, Ethel Smith and the girls’ music class – Loch Lomond
8. Red Skelton, Jean Porter, Carlos Ramirez, Janis Paige, Harry James, Ethel Smith, Helen Forrest, and a guy from Harry’s Music Makers – Red’s challenge version of Loch Lomond: You Take the High Note and I’ll take the Low Note
9. Xavier Cugat and Lina Romay – Alma Llanere
10. Studio Orchestra – Themes from The Nutcracker Suite for Red’s ballet lesson
11. Harry James – Hora Staccato
12. Harry James, Helen Forrest – I Cried for You
13. Both Orchestras with a women’s chorus of dancers synchronized with a women’s chorus of swimmers – The Aqua Ballet
14. Esther Williams swims to Strauss waltzes
I think the best number is You Take the High Note and I’ll Take the Low Note, because of the clever way they go from a duet to a quartet to a sextet to an octet, and even have Harry James and Ethel Smith in a high-kicking chorus line with the others.
With all the great singing, dancing, and swimming how did they have time for the plot? Great fun and good for many viewings.