Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Radio review – Lux – “Million Dollar Mermaid” (1953) **1/2

Most Esther Williams vehicles didn’t have enough plot to warrant adaptation on radio, but this one did – a biopic of Australian swimming star, Annette Kellerman. It’s highly fictionalised and not very Australian – her life there is dealt with very quickly, although they keep a gag from the film where she says she’s cooking Australian stew, “it’s just like Irish stew except the beef’s down under”. She does this on the trip to England, where she meets a promoter, who makes her a star with some well-publicised swims. He falls in love with her but when she wants to try other businesses he sooks off and is mean to her – I think we’re supposed to find this cave man stuff charming. She falls into the arms of a rival promoter but can’t forget the sook. Victor Mature wasn’t on hand to reprise his film role but Williams and Walter Pidgeon do – only Pidgeon plays her false love interest instead of her father (as in the film), which is a bit yuck. More of this was truthful than I thought: she did swim at the hippodrome, help pioneer the one-piece, marry her manager, become a film star. No mention of her being the first established film star to do a nude scene, though!

(NB MGM also enjoyed success in the 50s with a biopic of another famous Aussie, Interrupted Melody, the story of Marjorie Lawrence.)

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