Esther Williams dazzles in... This Time for Keeps (1947)
After my outing with Nick and Nora (and Asta!) yesterday, I'm really enjoying this 1947 Blogathon. For the other marvelous discussions, click here and don't look back. If you missed my previous entry for the blogathon, you can find it here. But at this moment, let's jump in the pool with my favorite mermaid...
Unfortunately, the job doesn't stop Dick from still sniffing around Nora, much to Ferdi's annoyance. Dick also keeps the gig a secret from his father, knowing that he hates that kind of music. This is only further proven when Richard arranges an audition for his son and Dick changes the music to something more jazzy, irritating his father to no end. It isn't long before Nora starts skipping rehearsals to run around with Dick (thanks to ol' doormat Gordon). Her performance is hardly effected, though, when you see her and Ferdi's number "Ten Percent." Dressed in white formal wear, the twosome tango ("Hope Gene Kelly saved his money!" Ferdi quips), and then Nora strips down to her bedazzled swimsuit. Diving into the pool, Williams and her talented crew of fellow swimmers entertain the audience beautifully. The ending is fun too: Durante's platform sinks into the pool until he's totally submerged, piano and all. Williams pops up wearing his top hat, pulling him up as well to acknowledge their audience.
Upon arrival back home, Dick finds out what his father did, as does Nora. Instead of blaming Dick, though, she takes all the credit for her heartbreak--she rushed him into meeting the family, she didn't ask enough questions, etc. I hate that the script makes Nora do this, especially since at any time, Dick could have and should have told her the truth. The moment she told him she loved him, he should have come clean. (Ferdi agrees with me, so I know I'm right.) Nora decides to go on a vacation, just missing Dick at the stage door. Ferdi confronts the guy, who confirms that he's engaged. His excuse for not ending it? "Did you ever try to break an engagement with a perfectly nice girl? It's a rotten thing to have to do." Um, I'm sorry, what? Of course it sucks, but you should still do it. Dick tries to be valiant and says that he couldn't ask Nora to "wait around while [he] crawls out from" the engagement. Ferdi has had enough of this kid's bullshit and refuses to tell him where Nora is.
Months go by. Richard realizes how wrong he was to push the wrong career and the wrong girl on his son, and he goes to Ferdi to ask where he can find Nora. He tells Ferdi that it was his fault the announcement went into the paper, but Ferdi still withholds Nora's location. Later that night, he stops by the Cugat Club to encourage Dick to visit his father, whom he hasn't seen in weeks. Dick would rather insist to Ferdi that he's been honest (yeah right) and he deserves to know where Nora is (don't think so). He then tells Ferdi that Cugat's band has a gig at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac, so he'll be spending the summer there, snidely adding "Even the stars are fighting against you," to which Ferdi beautifully replies:
Johnston may be Esther's worst co-star, ever. Sure, he can sing beautifully, but the guy was a jerk, on and off the screen. In her autobiography The Million Dollar Mermaid, Williams wrote that Johnston brought his tiny fan club of teenage girls with him on location in Mackinac Island, and he would read aloud the sometimes graphic love letters from Kathryn Grayson, who would become his wife that year (and his ex in 1950). Esther astutely noted that many of her male co-stars "had been given roles in my movies so they could get a bit of experience and become better known. I would have preferred stronger leading men, but it's quite possible that a more prominent actor wouldn't want to hold my towel; and sometimes that was literally in the plot" (153). She then compared her films to the Andy Hardy series, which MGM used to give their starlets a beginning role, including Williams herself. All of that may have clouded my judgment when it came time to watch the movie, but then I watched it a second time and paid more attention to Johnston's character and you know what? He was still horrible.
I don't want to discourage anyone from seeing the film, though. Despite Johnston, This Time for Keeps is a good way to spend 105 minutes. Plus, I would never tell someone to skip an Esther Williams flick. Like in Dangerous When Wet and others, her character is independent, sweet, and sassy. And how about that Jimmy Durante? I love Durante--not only is he funny, but he also displays vulnerability that would soften the hardest of hearts. It's touching to watch him be so protective of Nora. When Dick accuses Ferdi of being in love with Nora, it just makes you hate him more. Maybe I'm misreading things, but I find Ferdi and Nora's relationship to be that of a surrogate father and daughter more than anything romantic.
here.) Costume designer Irene wanted to evoke a cozy, country feel in the clothes that were worn in Mackinac Island, which led to plenty of plaid and flannel, including one of Esther's swimsuits. This swimsuit spelled disaster once Williams wore it in the pool on a day of shooting--it was so heavy, she could hardly keep her head above water! She quickly took it off before it drowned her, only to be left floating naked in a pool that was surrounded by tourists and the production crew. Luckily her wardrobe woman was nearby and they were able to fashion a towel into a makeshift poncho, and Esther's exit was greeted by applause. Williams learned her lesson: "From then on I would sit in on the swimsuit design meetings and participate in the decision making about fabric choice. Once a suit was made, I would go into the pool and swim in it. After that it went back to wardrobe for whatever had to be changed" (155). This experience would come in handy when Williams started her own swimsuit line years later.
I have to admit, one thing I don't understand about the movie is the title. A chorus sings "This Time for Keeps" over the credits, but it's never heard again. "Easy to Love," however, is played at least 54 times in the film, so why they didn't title it that is beyond me. It wasn't until 1953 that Esther starred in a film called Easy to Love. Minor quibbles, I know. You've probably had enough of my griping, so let me just finish by saying: This Time for Keeps is fun, beautiful, breezy, and very easy to
|I want this poster so bad. I would pay money for this in a heartbeat.|
|The Grand Hotel.|
|Does this not make life worth living?|