Apr 27, 2007

Divine in the Briny

Wash your towels, perfect your pedicures, and stir your poolside lemonade, because a sea-worthy revelation is set to hit shelves on Tuesday, July 17, 2007: After spewing forth innumerable Cagney, Bogart, Davis and Crawford box sets, Warner Brothers Home Video is finally lavishing some overdue attention on The Million Dollar Mermaid herself, MGM darling Esther Williams.

A champion diver in her early teens, Williams revolutionized the film industry in the 1940s by using her films to showcase her extraordinary aquatic abilities - she not only swims in beautiful costumes amongst lavish underwater sets, but she dives, performs extended water ballets and acrobatics, water-skis, and choreographs complicated numbers for her myriad "chorus girls" to perform (Williams is credited with co-authoring the sport of synchronized swimming). Though retired from film and running her own line of swimwear from her California home, Esth still remains a fan favorite - she still signs autographs and recently published her autobiography, Million Dollar Mermaid (a scandalously good read) - but curiously enough, the advent of The Esther Williams Collection will mark the initial release of any of Williams' water-related films on dvd (1949's Take Me Out to the Ball Game is definitely dry-land fare).

Complete with featurettes, film trailers, musical number outtakes, and TCM's original Private Screenings with Esth herself, a five-disc box set will include:

Bathing Beauty (1944), with Red Skelton and Harry James
Easy to Wed (1946) with Van Johnson, Lucille Ball and Keenan Wynn - easily my favorite flick of the set!
On an Island with You (1948) with Peter Lawford, Ricardo Montalban and Cyd Charisse
Neptune's Daughter (1949) with Betty Garrett, Red Skelton and Ricardo Montalban - again
Dangerous When Wet (1953) with Fernando Lamas - let the real-life love affair begin!

Though these five flicks aren't entirely representative of Esther's unquestionable underwater appeal (where, exactly, is Million Dollar Mermaid?), fear not, swimfans...the "Volume 1" subscript on the case's cover is a sure guarantee that more mermaid is on the way!

The July-released Esther Williams Collection is available from Amazon.com for an astoundingly low $34.99 USD.

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