Take 3: Easy to Wed Review

As the dawn of August arrives, so does the Esther Williams blogathon! Like last year, I have decided to review another movie from Esther’s filmography. But this time, I selected the 1946 title, Easy to Wed! Similar to the previous year, Easy to Wed was recommended to me. However, this film was suggested by a reader named Becky. That’s not the only reason why I’m reviewing the movie. I’m also participating in The Sixth Van Johnson Blogathon. Since Van happens to star in Easy to Wed, this is a good segue to that event. In the 1946 film, the characters’ trip to Mexico contained the “summer vibes” one would expect from the season. This is an interesting coincidence, as the movie I’m reviewing for the Van Johnson Blogathon is In The Good Old Summertime! My readers will have to wait a little while for that review. For now, though, it’s time to talk about Easy to Wed!

Easy to Wed poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Loew’s Inc.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: In Easy to Wed, Esther portrayed Connie, a socialite who is wrongly accused of stealing another woman’s husband. Before she meets Van’s character, Bill, the employees at the New York newspaper that accused Connie label her as “spoiled” and “arrogant”. But when Bill meets Connie, he, and the audience, sees she is the complete opposite. In fact, Esther’s on-screen personality was very sweet! I enjoyed watching Connie and Bill’s interactions. The gentle sweetness of Connie’s personality and the charming yet cunning personality of Bill worked, as opposites attracted. Connie’s wittiness also helped this relationship’s favor. One of my favorite scenes is when Bill is riding on an inflatable raft in Connie’s pool. In an attempt to get him to join her in the pool, Connie tries to deflate the raft. Since she wants to catch Bill off guard, she deflates the raft with her foot during their conversation. Not only do Esther’s and Van’s acting abilities add to this on-screen relationship, so does their on-screen chemistry!

When it comes to Lucille Ball’s filmography, I’ve, so far, stuck with I Love Lucy. Therefore, I had an idea of what to expect in her portrayal of Gladys, the fiancé of Warren. Expectations aside, Lucille’s performance was enjoyable to watch! Not only did she work well with the other cast members, she used comedy to her advantage. During Bill’s stay in Mexico, he learns how to use a duck call whistle. While attempting to make a duck call, Gladys opens the door to Bill’s main sitting room and loudly yells “Happy New Year”. Personally, I found this scene hilarious, as the moment itself was unexpected. Speaking of Warren, let’s talk about Keenan Wynn’s performance. His portrayal reminded me of a more dramatic version of “Rooster” from the 1982 adaptation of Annie. What I mean by that is Warren was a cunning man who had a way with words. Another scene I liked was when Warren visited Bill about the newspaper’s libel suit. Because of how cunning both Warren and Bill are, they went toe-to-toe with each other, never missing a beat. What also helped was the quality of both Van’s and Keenan’s talents!

Lucille’s and Esther’s wardrobe: I loved Lucille’s and Esther’s wardrobe in Easy to Wed! However, there were three outfits that absolutely stole the show! Lucille wore the first outfit in the aforementioned duck call scene. A shiny gold top was covered by a velvety blue suit jacket. Deep blue slacks match the jacket, with the outfit complimented by shiny gold shoes. The blue and gold color palette paired beautifully with Lucille’s red hair and blue eyes! During a hunting trip, Connie wore fishing boots over a pair of black pants. A gray turtleneck shirt is under a red and orange plaid jacket. Finished with a maroon cap, the outfit is a classy ensemble that reminded me of the fall season. A few scenes later, Esther wore a light green sweater with cattails on them. A medium length black skirt compliments the cattails on the sweater, as well as Esther’s headband. A pair of brown boots helps pull off a look that would look great during fall or winter.

The “Boneca de Pixe” musical number: Toward the end of Easy to Wed, Connie and Bill perform in a musical number at a party. This number reflected their time together in Mexico. Both Esther and Van sung in Portuguese, dancing alongside each other and a large ensemble of dancers. The dancers’ costumes are so vibrant and colorful, boasting shades of red, yellow, and green. A small orchestra provided the sound, teaming up with Ethel Smith on the organ. Leading into this musical number, Ethel performed an organ solo that was fun to watch! This solo added the energy and excitement this piece needed. Overall, this number made me wish Easy to Wed was a musical.

The Third Esther Williams Blogathon banner created by by Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood

What I didn’t like about the film:

A drawn-out conflict: Easy to Wed’s conflict revolves around Warren and Bill’s plan to prevent the libel suit from going to court. While it was interesting to see this plan unfold, it was drawn out for most of the story. In fact, this conflict was drawn out for so long, its resolution was delivered in a rapid-fire style within the last ten minutes of the movie. Had this script been a little bit tighter, the resolution’s delivery could have been more satisfying.

An inconsistent use of music: As I’ve said before, music can elevate the mood or tone of a given scene. It can also help make a scene more memorable. The film’s first half featured less music than its second half. Because of this, the memorability of some scenes was weaker. One example is when Bill is hosting a dinner party in his hotel’s sitting room. If music had been playing in the background, it would have heightened the anticipation of Connie’s arrival. The accompanying melody would highlight the growing feelings Bill and Connie have for one another as well. Instead, the scene felt mundane, slogging along to the next part in the story.

No subplots: Like I already mentioned, the conflict in Easy to Wed was drawn out for most of the movie. There are no subplots in this film, as the script focuses on the aforementioned conflict. Personally, I wish the story received a subplot. It would have given the audience additional intrigue to carry them through the film. The newspaper’s photographer could have formed a romantic relationship with the female organist. Maybe his camera goes missing and he has to find it. To me, the lack of subplots felt like a missed opportunity.

Since I loved the outfits described in this review, I decided to share screenshots of them, so my readers could see how great these outfits are! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

My overall impression:

In my opinion, Easy to Wed is a mixed bag. On the one hand, there are things about the movie I liked. The acting was strong, the “Boneca de Pixe” musical number was great, and I loved Lucille’s and Esther’s wardrobe. On the other hand, the script could have been stronger. Tighter writing might have helped the conflict reach a satisfying resolution. The conflict could have also been paired with at least one subplot. As I watched Easy to Wed, I was reminded of another movie with a drawn-out conflict: Anchors Aweigh. Because that movie’s musical numbers were more consistent, the audience had something to occupy their time until the conflict could be resolved. As I mentioned in this review, the music was inconsistent in Easy to Wed. Therefore, parts of the story felt longer than necessary. So far, I’ve seen three of Esther Williams’ films. Out of those titles, Easy to Wed is my least favorite. Hopefully, the next picture of Esther’s I watch will be better.

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

Have you seen any of the Esther Williams’ films? Are you looking forward to my review of In The Good Old Summertime? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Bathing Beauty Review

Since I participated in last year’s Esther Williams Blogathon, it made sense for me to join the 100 Years of Esther Williams Blogathon. Hosted again by Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood, I wanted to review one of Esther’s films this time. I try to watch and write about as many movie recommendations as I can. Because Rebecca from Taking Up Room suggested I check out Bathing Beauty, that’s the film I chose to review! In 2020, for a different blogathon, I saw my first film of Esther’s; 1949’s Take Me Out to the Ball Game. That film gave Esther only one swimming scene, with the majority of her scenes taking place on land. With a movie titled Bathing Beauty, I was excited to see more of Esther’s swimming routines! Also, in 2020, I saw my first movie of Red Skelton’s; 1953’s The Clown. So, I was looking forward to talking about one of his earlier films! Now, let’s dive into this review of Bathing Beauty!

Bathing Beauty poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Things I liked about the film:

The costume designs: One thing I noticed while watching Bathing Beauty was the use of vibrant colors. This can definitely be seen within the film’s costume designs! At the very beginning of the film, Esther wore a hot pink swimsuit with a matching bow. The show-stopping piece, however, was her over-the-shoulder cape! This cream-colored piece was adorned in colorful flower appliques, adding touches of bright green, yellow, and pink. Besides pink, red was a common color found among the costumes. The students at Victoria College wore a uniform that consisted of a khaki dress. Red berets and neck ties provided a pop of color, not only pairing nicely with the khaki material, but also complimenting light and dark hair colors. During the performance of “I Cried for You”, Helen Forrest wore a rusty red colored dress. While the shape and style of the dress itself was simple, there was a sparkly belt and neckline. This small detail helped Helen’s dress appear elegant and appealing to the eye.

Red Skelton’s comedy: As I mentioned in my review of The Clown, I am familiar with Red Skelton as an entertainer. This knowledge caused me to be disappointed by the limited use of comedy in that film. Because Bathing Beauty is a romantic comedy, the material gave Red Skelton more opportunities to showcase his comedic talents. The ballet lesson from The Clown also appeared in Bathing Beauty. This time, Red’s character, Steve, took the lesson because it was a part of the college curriculum. Even after a year of first seeing it, this scene is still hilarious! The slapstick nature of Red’s comedy and the graceful reputation of ballet creates a funny oxymoron. Sometimes, Red’s comedy could be heard within the script. While at a local bar, Steve and a fellow patron explain their problems using nearby fruit. When Steve chooses to represent himself through a pineapple, he makes a comment about how he needs a haircut. Little comments like that one help include comedy into conversations among the characters!

The cinematography: An element within Bathing Beauty that stood out was the cinematography! It surprised me how good it was, especially for a film released in 1944! Anytime Esther swam underwater, those scenes were captured very well, presenting a clear view of what was happening under the surface. This added to the appeal of the swimming/water related scenes within the movie. In one scene, Esther’s character, Caroline, kisses Steve by the poolside. As she slowly dips under the water, Steve’s face follows her, with a close-up shot of his face shown under the water as well. Keeping in mind the limited technology of the ‘40s, these scenes were, to an extent, ahead of their time. A few scenes featured Harry James and His Music Makers. During these scenes, Harry was captured in close-up and medium shots. The camera also moved with him, presenting the illusion that Harry was floating among the orchestra. Because he was the star of those performances, this was a interesting way of highlighting Harry’s importance in those scenes!

100 Years of Esther Williams blogathon banner created by Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A somewhat misleading title: This movie is not only called Bathing Beauty, but it also stars Esther Williams. Therefore, certain expectations are placed on the film for those reasons. While we do see Esther in the pool, this was shown for two scenes: toward the beginning and end of the movie. The rest of the film shows Esther spending more time on land. Even when Basil Rathbone’s character, George, mentions a water pageant on several occasions, this was not the main focus of the overall story. After having Take Me Out to the Ball Game as my introduction to Esther’s filmography, I was left a little disappointed.

Red and Esther’s on-screen chemistry: While I have seen at least one film of Esther’s and Red’s, this was my first time seeing a movie starring both of them. Throughout the movie, they had nice on-chemistry. However, I thought Red had stronger on-screen chemistry with Jean Porter. Portraying one of the students at Victoria College, Jean displayed an on-screen personality that was similar to Red’s, coming across as easy-going and spunky. During the musical number, “I’ll Take the High Note”, Red and Jean performed so well together. I wanted Steve and Caroline to work out their relationship issues. But because of “I’ll Take the High Note”, I wish Jean and Red had led a film together.

A weak connection between the story and musical numbers: Musicals can be an enjoyable experience. Songs and instrumentals can progress a story forward, as well as help the audience get to know the story’s characters. With Bathing Beauty, there were several musical numbers sprinkled throughout the film. But anytime a musical number took place, it caused the story to pause. Even though these musical numbers were entertaining, the only one that directly connected to the film’s narrative was “I’ll Take the High Note”. This is because the number was a part of an assignment Steve had to complete in order to pass his music class. As I mentioned earlier, a water pageant is brought up on multiple occasions. However, this was the only water related spectacle in the movie. Because Esther was one of the stars of the film and because the story takes place in two states surrounding water (California and New Jersey), this feels, to an extent, like a missed opportunity for more water related numbers.

String of musical notes image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/pentagram-vector_710290.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundvector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

The end of any Olympics is an exciting time. A closing ceremony filled with spectacle and awe give athletes, fans, and people from that host country something to look forward to. As this year’s Tokyo Olympics come to a close, I can’t help but think of blogathons being similar to the Olympics. Think of it like this: the athletes that represent a particular country share one common goal. That goal is to bring home as many medals as realistically possible. The Olympics themselves have a start and end date, taking place in a different location. While there are typically no prizes involved in blogathons, participants share a common goal: talk about and celebrate the chosen subject. In this case, that subject is Esther Williams. Like the Olympics, Michaela’s event is an annual one that has a clear start and end date. Yes, it is known that Esther never went to the Olympics as planned. But I’d like to think she became a champion in her own right. An Olympic podium turned into an aqua-musical stage. Gold medals became a thirty-three project filmography. Instead of hearing the National Anthem after an Olympic win, show tunes are the chosen sound within Esther’s performances. I’d also like to think Esther paved the way for swimmers that came after her. Maybe aquamusicals haven’t made a comeback, but swimmers have been able to find own their success, almost like Esther did.

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

Have you seen any of Esther Williams’ films? If so, which one would you want me to review next? Tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly Blogathon Part 1)

Because Heidi’s new blogathon celebrates two classic film stars, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, I decided to write a double feature in their honor. I’m starting with one of Gene Kelly’s movies first, as my movie selection had a shorter run-time. On 18 Cinema Lane’s Pinterest account, there is a recommendation board where people who visit the blog can make a suggestion for future reviews. That board hosts some Gene Kelly titles, so I had plenty of options to choose from. In the end, I picked the 1949 film, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, which was recommended by Kristen from KN Winiarski Writes! The idea of a musical surrounding an athletic sport was a fascinating concept. It also gave me an excuse to finally watch one of Esther Williams’ films, as I had not seen one up until this point. 2020 has become the year of Frank Sinatra films on this blog, as Take Me Out to the Ball Game is now the fifth film from Frank’s filmography I’ve reviewed. An interesting coincidence I just noticed is how most of these movies have had a musical element included.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I said in the introduction, I reviewed Anchors Aweigh back in September. In that review, I said that Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly were one of the best on-screen duos I’ve ever seen because of how different their characters were from each other. Because of Frank and Gene’s experience working together, it allowed them to be familiar with the other performer and know what to expect from them in Take Me Out to the Ball Game! Like Anchors Aweigh, their characters in the 1949 film, Dennis and Eddie, were opposites of one another. This time, however, it was for different reasons. While Eddie was interested in the night life of his world, Dennis has a quieter soul that seems to notice the finer details within his surroundings. While I wrote a list article about the travels of Esther Williams, this was my first time watching one of her films. Even though Esther spent more time on land than in the water, she appeared at ease in her role as K.C. Higgins! When people tried to stand in her way, K.C. always stood her ground. At the same time, she tried to instill fairness into the situation. One great example is when she insists on a curfew penalty for every member of the Chicago Wolves. On the surface, it seems like K.C. is being unfair toward the team. In reality, she is looking out for their best interests by making sure they get a good night’s sleep so the team can perform better on in their baseball games.

The set design: Because a significant amount of time in Take Me Out to the Ball Game takes place in Florida, the sets surrounding the characters are going to reflect the Sunshine State. This is done through a variety of design choices. What made me like these sets so much was how appealing they were! When Dennis and Eddie arrive in Florida for Spring Training, the audience is introduced to the stadium, located right on the beach. With fair weather in the scene and the sandy shore taking center stage, the beach looked inviting! At night, when K.C. is interacting with both Dennis and Eddie near the pool area, lights illuminated this location to show off its exterior design. The white balcony of K.C.’s hotel room complimented the dark sky shown in the background. Light colored outdoor furniture consistently carried the color scheme this set was striving for! In an outdoor sitting area occupied by K.C. and Eddie, tan wicker chairs were paired well with green plants placed in various spots. This design choice showcased a good color combination!

The majority of the musical numbers: For the most part, I liked seeing the musical numbers in Take Me Out to the Ball Game! They were well choreographed and each performer looked like they truly enjoyed what they were doing. Like I said earlier, Frank and Gene’s experience working together helped them become familiar with the acting/performance style of the other actor. This certainly worked in their favor when it came to the musical numbers! In the opening number, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, both actors wonderfully pull off a tap-dance duet! Even though tap was out of Frank’s creative comfort zone, he was able to hold his own throughout the routine. Like I also said in this review, Esther spends more time on land than water. However, she was given one scene where she swam and sang the song from the movie’s opening number. Because of Esther’s experience with musicals, she was able play her own unique role in the film’s musical department that allowed her to stand out. Esther also appeared comfortable with the performance material given.

With Glamour & Panache: A Fred Astaire & Gene Kelly Musicals Blogathon banner created by Heidi from Along the Brandywine.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Two songs that didn’t age well: In Take Me Out to the Ball Game, there are two songs that have aged poorly. The first song, “Yes, Indeedy”, is performed by Frank and Gene when their characters are telling the Chicago Wolves about the females they met during their traveling talent tour. The lyrics reveal how one woman committed suicide and another female was 11 years old. Because the song itself is faster paced and upbeat, it almost sounds like Dennis and Eddie make light of the woman’s passing. Even though they say they didn’t interact with the 11-year-old for long, it makes me wonder why this child would have anything to do with Dennis and Eddie in the first place? The second song, “It’s Fate Baby, It’s Fate”, is performed by Frank Sinatra and Betty Garrett. The purpose of this song is for Betty’s character, Shirley, to share her feelings for Dennis. How she does it is very forceful, with the musical number showing Shirley blocking Dennis’ path, chasing him through the stadium, and picking him up against his will. Because of her aggression in the situation and her lack of accepting rejection, it feels like a unhealthy relationship in the works.

The character of Shirley: While Betty Garrett did a good job with the acting material she was given, I was not a fan of her character. Personally, I found Shirley to be a selfish individual who didn’t seem to care about the feelings of others. As I just mentioned, Shirley is very forceful when it comes to expressing her feelings for Dennis. If her musical number, “It’s Fate Baby, It’s Fate”, wasn’t bad enough, she wants to treat Dennis like she’s his mother. The way she talks to him in a scene where she blocks Dennis’ path with her horse and buggy shows Shirley talking to Dennis like she has more authority than him. More often than not, Dennis expresses how he doesn’t like Shirley in a romantic sense. He goes out of his way to avoid her and shows displeasure when she’s nearby. However, everyone surrounding him overlooks Shirley’s actions and encourages Dennis to spend more time with her.

An unclear time period: According to Wikipedia, Take Me Out to the Ball Game takes place in 1908. Certain aspects of the movie reflect this, with the various modes of transportation being one example. But there were some outfit choices that appeared to belong in a different decade. Whenever the Chicago Wolves are spending time in the hotel, all the team members wear team sweaters featuring their team logo. This style of sweater looked like it came from somewhere between the ‘30s and ‘50s. Like previously said, Esther has a swimming scene in this film. Her swimsuit resembles the style she wore in her “aqua musicals” of the ‘40s and ‘50s. These costume choices prevented me from getting fully immersed in the movie’s world.

Baseball game image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/baseball-game-illustration_2871359.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/man”>Man vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:  

Even though Take Me Out to the Ball Game is the second Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly collaboration I’ve seen, I’d still prefer Anchors Aweigh over the aforementioned film. While Take Me Out to the Ball Game is a fine movie, I feel the 1945 film was a stronger picture overall. However, I’m not going to dismiss the movie completely. One of the strengths of the 1949 project is the acting performances! Musical experience from Frank, Esther, and Gene definitely worked in this movie’s favor, with each actor appearing comfortable in their roles! I also enjoyed most of the musical numbers! They were certainly entertaining and fun to watch! Even though I didn’t mention it in my review, I feel the film’s conflict was underutilized. Within the last thirty minutes, Eddie tries to juggle baseball and performing in a café. Eventually, he learns that he can’t have everything he wants. Story wise, I think the film’s main conflict should have been Eddie’s struggle to fit his love of performing and baseball into his life. I actually found this part of the story more interesting than the Chicago Wolves dealing with a new team owner.

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

Have you seen Take Me Out to the Ball Game? Which Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly collaboration is your favorite? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Oh, The Places She’ll Go: A Map of Esther Williams’ Travels

When I think of Esther Williams, the pool at Michigan’s Grand Hotel always comes to mind! As one of the hotel’s many amenities, the pool is named after one of Hollywood’s most popular stars because the movie, This Time for Keeps, was filmed at the hotel. As I thought about this beloved place in the Great Lakes State, I started to wonder if there were other places across the country or the world where Esther left her legacy. I also thought about the places where Esther visited or frequented. This became the inspiration for my entry in Michaela’s Esther Williams Blogathon! My list consists of nine locations that share a connection with the actress herself. Each listing will feature facts and insight about that specific spot. I wasn’t able to visit any of these places due to the Coronavirus. Because of this, I had to include screenshots from my phone of photos I found on the internet. Most of the information in this list is from Esther’s Wikipedia page.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esther_Williams

The Esther Williams Blogathon banner created by Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood. Image found at http://loveletterstooldhollywood.blogspot.com/2020/06/esther-williams-blogathon-announcement.html.

Manhattan Beach

Location: Los Angeles County, California

Status: Active

If we’re going to talk about the places in Esther’s life, we need to start with the beginning of her story. Born in Inglewood, California, Esther visited Manhattan Beach with her sister, Maurine, according to Wikipedia. While it’s unknown which specific places Esther frequented, it’s safe to assume she would have found a way to partake in the sport that brought her joy. On the Parks and Recreation site for Manhattan Beach, I came across the page for Begg Pool. Offering classes and times for lap and recreational swimming, the Begg Pool provides swimmers with a place to learn new skills and grow as athletes. As I was explored Manhattan Beach’s Park and Recreation site, I discovered the offering of performance arts classes. I also came across the page for the annual Shakespeare by the Sea event. Having these acting opportunities available in Manhattan Beach makes a lot of sense when it comes to discussing Esther Williams. Because she became an actress after she became an established swimmer, the inclusion of acting and swimming in Manhattan Beach serves the best of both worlds.

https://www.citymb.info/departments/parks-and-recreation/aquatics

https://www.citymb.info/departments/parks-and-recreation/special-events/shakespeare-by-the-sea

https://www.citymb.info/departments/parks-and-recreation/cultural-arts/events-camps-and-classes

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://www.citymb.info/departments/parks-and-recreation/aquatics.

Los Angeles Athletic Club

Location: Los Angeles, California

Status: Active

On Wikipedia, there is a picture of Esther at the Los Angeles Athletic Club that was taken in 1939. The site also lists her as one of the club’s notable members. When I explored the official website of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, I got the impression the club served as a place for athletes to take their sport seriously. It would make sense for Esther to spend her time at this location, especially since she was an Olympic hopeful. Similar to Manhattan Beach’s Begg Pool, the Aquatics facility at the Los Angeles Athletic Club offers swimming classes. They also provide a conditioning club and a clinic.  Looking at the photo of the pool itself, the main takeaway is the simple style this space boasts. The black and white color palette makes the area seem like it is frozen in time, with the design choice of stripes bringing a sense of elegance. These elements create a facility that feels as timeless as the actress who went there!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_Athletic_Club (the club’s official website is included in this Wikipedia page)

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://laac.com/athletics/aquatics/.

Treasure Island

Location: San Francisco, California

Status: Active

In the year, 1940, Esther starred in a water spectacle called ‘Aquacade’. This show was held during the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco. The official location of this exposition was Treasure Island, “an artificial island in the San Francisco Bay and a neighborhood in the City and County of San Francisco”, according to Wikipedia. If you’ve never visited this island or had no idea this location existed until you read this article, you might think of the famous ‘Pleasure Island’ from the beloved classic Pinocchio. However, Treasure Island is nothing like the island from Pinocchio’s story. In fact, it serves as a community that could be similar to your own backyard. The island’s official website lists many resources that will sound familiar, such as a bike shop and restaurants. What I find interesting is how an extraordinary event like the Golden Gate International Exposition was held on an island that seems ordinary. It would be fun to travel back in time to see Treasure Island transformed into an elaborate world stage!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_Island,_San_Francisco

https://sftreasureisland.org/treasure-island-businesses-attractions-and-recreation

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://www.kqed.org/forum/2010101854779/massive-redevelopment-underway-for-treasure-island.

The Beverly Hills Hotel

Location: Beverly Hills, California

Status: Active

Wikipedia states that one of the clauses in Esther Williams’ contract with MGM was “that she receive a guest pass to The Beverly Hills Hotel where she could swim in the pool every day”. After watching a video featuring this pool on the hotel’s website, I definitely see the appeal of this location! Similar to the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s Aquatics facility, stripes are a design staple around the pool. They can be found in the seat cushions and the table umbrellas. Pink, green, and white serve as the the pool area’s color palette. Cabanas surrounding the pool showcase this palette beautifully. With the accent wall boasting a green leaf pattern, the two surrounding walls are a solid pink. A crème sofa and chair serve as seating options in this space. Wood furniture completes the overall look, capturing a classic style that has stood the test of time!

https://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/los-angeles/the-beverly-hills-hotel/the-pool/

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Image originally found at https://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/los-angeles/the-beverly-hills-hotel/the-pool/.

The Esther Williams Pool

Location: Mackinac Island, Michigan

Status: Active

Another hotel pool Esther frequented that joins this list! Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel was the filming location for the 1947 film, The Time for Keeps. Because of Esther’s involvement in the movie, the pool has been officially named the Esther Williams Pool!  Tanda Gmiter from MLive writes how Esther Williams and her film benefited the hotel’s longevity. The years when World War II took place were difficult for Mackinac Island’s crown jewel. The article states “during those lean war years, the Grand Hotel faced the same dismal predicament shared by many resorts: A long-term lack of paying guests”. However, a chance encounter would change the course of history for the hotel and those associated with the movie. Tanda says “someone connected to the film had seen a little 10-minute travelogue featuring the island that was done in 1944. When they were scouting sites for the Williams’ film, Mackinac seemed like a natural fit”. Since the release of The Time for Keeps, Grand Hotel has experienced years of success and has become an icon in Michigan.

https://www.mlive.com/travel/2018/07/how_a_hollywood_star_in_a_swim.html

https://www.grandhotel.com/activities/esther-williams-pool/

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://www.mlive.com/travel/2018/07/how_a_hollywood_star_in_a_swim.html.

Cypress Gardens

Location: Winter Haven, Florida

Status: Preserved

The 1953 movie, Easy to Love, was filmed in this particular destination, “where a swimming pool in the shape of the state of Florida had been built specifically for the film”. Wikipedia says “Cypress Gardens was a botanical garden and theme park near Winter Haven, Florida that operated from 1936 to 2009”. It was the Sunshine State’s first theme park, boasting attractions like water skiing, dinner cruises, and garden tours. This location was included in a 2014 list from the National Register of Historic Places.  Easy to Love was not the only Florida-filmed project Esther worked on, as she starred in multiple movies and television programs from the ‘50s and ‘60s. While the theme park has been closed and replaced with another one, Legoland Florida, the botanical garden is preserved inside the new park. In fact, it is included as one of their featured attractions!

https://web.archive.org/web/20070713205521/http://www.cypressgardens.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cypress_Gardens

https://web.archive.org/web/20140426235832/http://www.nps.gov/nr/listings/20140425.htm

https://www.legoland.com/florida/map-explore/land-views/cypress-gardens/attractions/botanical-gardens/

While the Florida shaped pool still takes residence in Legoland Florida, it’s now used as a fountain. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Image originally found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiBkULOrf7Y.

Wembley Arena

Location: London, England

Status: Active

According to Wikipedia, Esther “starred in an aqua-special at Wembley Stadium in London”. A photo from 1956 reveals the event actually took place at Empire Pool, which is located near Wembley Stadium. The website Television Obscurities shares how this event was meant to serve as a part of an on-going tour lasting from 1956 to 1958. Poor reviews for the 1957 show caused this tour to be cut short. While I wasn’t able to find any photos of this event and a recording of the event itself hasn’t resurfaced, the Empire Pool is still part of the English community. Now known as the Wembley Arena, this venue hosts concerts covering a variety of musical genres. The arena is located in Wembley Park, a hub for attractions, entertainment, and leisure activities.

https://www.ssearena.co.uk/your-visit/wembley-park

If you want to learn more about the aqua-special, you can visit the website, tvobscurities.com, and type Esther’s name into the search bar located at the bottom of the page.

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://wembleypark.com/attractions/the-sse-arena-wembley/.

The Raleigh Hotel

Location: Miami Beach, Florida

Status: Active

2010 saw the introduction of the Raleigh Hotel’s Esther Williams suite. This room “incorporates a beach summer theme”, with a basic color palette of white and beige allowing pops of color to be seen. Bright hues of blue, peach, and teal are found in pillows, towels, and curtains. There are three separate areas within the suite: the bedroom, the bathroom, and the main sitting area. Like the pool at The Beverly Hills Hotel and the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s Aquatics facility, the overall design of the suite captures a moment in time. While the style in this space is simple, it does help carry the consistency of the hotel. Its chic and vintage aesthetic make this location appear photogenic.

https://www.suiteness.com/suites/united-states/florida/miami/the-raleigh-hotel/the-esther-williams-suite

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g34439-d85180-Reviews-The_Raleigh_Miami_Beach-Miami_Beach_Florida.html

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mercedes-benz-fashion-week-swim-lets-the-sun-in-98595984.html

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://www.suiteness.com/suites/united-states/florida/miami/the-raleigh-hotel/the-esther-williams-suite.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

Location: Los Angeles, California

Status: Active

As we come to an end in our journey through Esther’s travels, we return to the place where we began: California. When Esther attended the first annual Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival, there was a screening of her film, Neptune’s Daughter, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s pool. This choice was fitting, since she spent a lot of time around pools during her life. The style around this area is much simpler than The Beverly Hills Hotel’s pool area. However, it works with its respective hotel’s interior designs. The white pool chairs with the hotel’s official monogram promote a more classic flare that is carried throughout the hotel. It lets the pool itself be the focal point, with the light and dark shades of blue complimenting the chairs surrounding it. This space provides a memorable view from the various suites that are offered. With the hotel itself surrounding the pool, it makes this feature as celebrated as Esther Williams herself.

https://www.thehollywoodroosevelt.com/pool/tropicana-pool-cafe

Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Photo originally found at https://www.thehollywoodroosevelt.com/pool/tropicana-pool-cafe.

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen