Van Johnson gives Esther Williams the... Thrill of a Romance (1945)
When Esther Williams died in 2013, I was only blithely aware of her so when TCM aired a tribute to the million dollar mermaid a few days after her death, I snatched up the opportunity to see just what Ms. Williams was all about. Thrill of a Romance was my first introduction to the wondrous world of Williams, where Technicolor astounds, musical numbers pop up like little surprises, and Esther mesmerizes with the seemingly simple feat of swimming. I fell in love with it all, and the presence of Van Johnson certainly contributed to my feelings, him being a great partner for Williams. Shall we take a dip?
This Time for Keeps, Bob is the worst, a real slimeball who kind of tricks
When he sees Cynthia from across the room, he's instantly smitten. Meanwhile, the new marriage is already put to a screeching halt when Bob gets a call about an opportunity to help Mr. Bancroft close a big deal. He can't leave Cynthia's side fast enough, assuring her that it will only be for a few days and there's no point in her coming with him.
They continue their swimming lessons, where Cynthia gets to look fabulous and Tommy gets to be adorable as he tries to emulate her moves. The funny thing is that in real life, Williams had to discreetly hold Johnson up as they swam -- he really was a terrible swimmer. I always try to see if I can spot Williams doing this, but the water masks it very well. This is alluded to in Esther and Van's next collaboration Easy to Wed; Esther's character enjoys a swim while Van's enjoys staying out of the water and on a little pneumatic boat instead. He got better by the time of
Easy to Love. But back to Thrill of a Romance. In addition to all of the outdoor activities, Cynthia and Tommy spend their evenings dancing and having a pretty romantic time, which does not go unnoticed by Maude. She does a lot of observing that just makes you feel like she's up to something -- but more on that later.
Cynthia calls Bob to ask him to come sooner, but naturally the guy is awful and says he can't do it, lying that the business deal is still going on and he can't leave yet. (Side note: how stunning does Esther look on the phone there? Shots like these always make me sad that our phones don't look like this anymore. Hell, our movies don't even look remotely like this anymore. What happened to the soft lighting and the glamorous ladies? Sorry, that's a rant for another time.)
YouTube video, which someone thoughtfully put together. Thanks, whoever you are!
|Why can't restaurants look like this anymore?|
|This basically sums up their whole relationship -- she's sunny and happy while he's grouchy and awful.|
|My favorite dress in this movie. Just look at that!|
|An alternate title for this film could be "Maude Sees All."|
|Check out the black butterfly details on Maude's dress -- they're even in her hair!|
This post is in conjunction with the amazing TCM Discoveries Blogathon, hosted by the Nitrate Diva. Click here to see the other great, great posts!