2016 Reviews · 5 Star Worthy · Classic · Favorites · movie · TCM

TCM 31 Days of Oscar – Million Dollar Mermaid

TCM 31 Days of Oscar

TCM 31 Days of Oscar

I’ve challeng.ed myself to watch a movie every day from Turner Classic Movie channel’s 31 Days of Oscar. I’ll be focusing on the movies I haven’t watched yet, with maybe just a few movies I’ve already seen.

Here is my 17th day and movie of my challenge to TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar.

Million Dollar Mermaid

Million Dollar Mermaid

9 out of 10 All Stars

1952 Biography, Drama film. Starring Esther Williams, Victor Mature, Walter Pidgeon, David Brian, Howard Freeman, William Bouchey and Donna Corcoran.

The 360° Game: stars off with The Sheepman starring William Bouchey, and she was in Million Dollar Mermaid with Howard Freeman who was in the next film, The Blue Dahlia.

And the Oscar did not go to… Best Cinematography, Color: George J. Folsey.

Million Dollar Mermaid

Short Synopsis: “Biopic of Australian swimming champ and entertainer Annette Kellerman. After overcoming polio, Kellerman achieves fame and creates a scandal when her one-piece bathing suit is considered indecent.” (115 min)

A note before I start watching this… why I chose this movie: Esther Williams. I’ve never seen a movie with her in it. I’ve only seen the bits of scenes TCM channel shows whenever they talk about this woman. And this one is supposedly Esther’s favorite film that she did.

My Thoughts: I ended up really liking this film. It was predictable, but at no time did it feel like I was watching a documentary. As for those amazing stunts that Esther did, well at the end of my post I’ve added a video, so you’ll have to see for yourself how great I think the stunts are. At one time she did injure herself during a 50 feet drop to a head dive. 50 feet! That’s big for me because I have a fear of falling from big heights. And as for Esther’s acting, she was good. I think she really did well in acting her part as Annette Kellermann and perform her aquatic shows. As for Annette Kellermann, this movie made her out to be a very inspirational feminist with that One-Piece Swim Suit scandal. And also an inspirational person because she wanted to because it seemed in this film that swimming was always at the top of her priorities, not swooning over guys or trying to get hitched. This is a must see movie. I loved it.


The Play by Play Thoughts

Million Dollar Mermaid

0:00 The great New York Hippodrome and Annette Kellermann‘s story. Another opening with details of the beginning of the plot and timeline. And then it’s of to Australia to meet Annette Kellermann.

Million Dollar Mermaid Sydney Australia

0:02 “This is lovely Sydney Harbour in the year 1900.” Definitely not the same Sydney Harbour I went to in 2003 (and 2004 and 2005) during my Navy Deployments service.

Michelle Australia 2003

Million Dollar Mermaid

And the Kellerman Conservatory of Music. Annette’s father runs a Conservatory in this grand house. For a while there the house looked familiar to me, don’t know what other movie I’ve seen this in.

Million Dollar Mermaid

0:04 Annette Kellermann… A young girl with polio and has to wear leg braces. Poor thing just wants to go outside and learn to dance with the other girls, but she’s stuck inside learning to play classical music.

Million Dollar Mermaid

“How can anything hurt when it makes you feel so good?”

That’s a very good reason to continue swimming. Especially if it helps a little girl that has to wear leg braces. Let the girl swim Pop.

Million Dollar Mermaid

And Annette’s gone from swimming in the pond to dancing to winning swim races.

0:08 Annette’s a young woman now. As Esther Williams. And a Champion swimmer now too. Unfortunately her father’s music business isn’t doing so good, so it’s off to London. Unfortunately her father wants her to use swimming as a hobby, while doing dancing and music as a career. And yet you can tell that she’d prefer to be a swimmer because she looks so happy when she told Jimmy about her championships.

Million Dollar Mermaid

Million Dollar Mermaid

0:11 Sydney the Boxing Kangaroo. And James Sullivan, the sly circus show and schemer. He’s either very sincere in wanting to be Annette’s friend, or he only thinks of her as a money ticket.

0:17 Poor Mr. Crocker of the Crocker Conservatory is dead. And it looks like his dream for his daughter to dance ballet and his music is gone. That’s fine for Annette I think because she looks more happy when she’s describing about her time swimming in races at Australia.

“Don’t worry. The Kellermann will always eat.”

0:20 Jimmy Sullivan is back to bargain again. The scheme this time? Swim down the Thames £5 And 50% of the first day proceeds. Annette suggests a 26 mile swim instead (similar swim to what Esther Williams does in the 1953 film, Dangerous When Wet). Amazing. Too bad they couldn’t stick around London to capitalize on that popularity.

Million Dollar Mermaid

“Greenwich? Did she say Greenwich?”

Million Dollar Mermaid

0:31 “Poor Sydney. Looks like you really put him out of business.” But yet Jimmy will sure to have big plans for Annette now. Money money.

0:36 More than poor Sydney for going out of business. Now the poor kangaroo is being sold to the circus.

And it’s of to New York for the Hippodrome. The thing is that in New York  Annette is an “unknown” and it will be just as tough finding a gig in America as it was in London.

Million Dollar Mermaid

0:41 The Revere Beach to wherever Swim. And Annette’s male one-piece bathing suit is causing a huge scandal on the beach. As for the women seeing this, I’d be jealous that she’s brave enough to pull this off too, what with those full-body “10 yards” of clothing they’ve got to wear. So what do these ladies do? Call her a hussy and other names of course.

“Did you see that? Her legs are bare!”

Million Dollar Mermaid

0:49 “The One Piece Suit Girl” on display at Sullivan’s Circus. She might have won the court hearing of indecent exposure at Revere Beach, but now she’s a swimming show girl.
A show now on it’s ninth week and every high dive is bigger than the other.

Annette Kellermann

And it looks like the real Annette Kellermann had to alter her bathing suit in America too.

0:53 And Sullivan’s bought Annette an Engagement Ring. Along with another show – “A Swimmer and a Flier.” He’s still thinking of the next big show. But it looks like she might want to accept Mr. Aldrich’s dignified lectures and ballet.

0:59 A Lover’s Quarrel. With a quote like this it hits the mark for Esther Williams who is marked as just being an “aquamusicals” performer.

“Baby, you’re a swimmer. You belong in the water. Wet, you’re terrific. Dry, you’re just a nice girl who ought to settle down and get married.”

1:06 The Million Dollar Mermaid. What Esther Williams is famous for. She even used this for the title to her biography book.

“The press portrayed me as a kind of post-World War II version of Martha Stewart — “the Mermaid Tycoon,” as I was dubbed on the cover of Life; the perfect homemaker; the Hollywood glamour queen; and a sex symbol in a bathing suit — all rolled into one.” – Esther Williams from her bio book.

Million Dollar Mermaid

1:13 Annette is a big star at the Hippodrome. And yet she wishes to see Jimmy again. Esther Williams is a remarkable swimmer. No wonder she was coined from here on as the “Million Dollar Mermaid.”

Million Dollar Mermaid

1:16 Annette’s father dies. And now we get to see what latest scheme Jimmy is up to… the Cross Country Air Race. At least Doc Cronnel came to see Annette. Of course it’s so that Annette can try to talk some sense into Jimmy, whom she hasn’t seen for months. Or years. Anyhow, she’ll talk to him after she performs this great show with the swings and hanging onto a ring and then diving into that little hole they’ve made and popping back up with sparklers and a kiss goodbye.

Million Dollar Mermaid

1:33 “Diving Star to Wed Hippodrome Producer.” It only took her 6 months to finally say yes to Alfred Harper. But first it’s off on a train ride to a film location – “Neptune’s Daughter” (which just happens to be the name of the 1949 movie Esther Williams starred in). The same train where Jimmy and Doc are playing schemes with Doc pretending to be an Indian, Chief Thunderbird and trying to sell “genuine” Indian items.

Neptunes Daughter 1914

“According to biographical sources, the accident dramatized in Million Dollar Mermaid actually occurred during production of Kellerman’s 1916 picture A Daughter of the Gods .” (TCM Movie Notes)

1:41 Annette’s Neptune stunt. And without Jimmy’s ring, which she calls her lucky charm. Alfred Harper should’ve had her wear the ring. But then there wouldn’t be an accident and Jimmy wouldn’t have come visit her at the hospital. And the accident is a spinal damage that may cause her to not move her legs. Almost like how she was when she was a kid.

And according with IMDb’s Trivia page, Esther Williams really did have a stunt injury during this film.

“Esther Williams broke her neck diving off a 50-foot tower during the sequence in which she wears a golden swimming costume. She spent six months in a body cast before recovering to complete the film.”

Million Dollar Mermaid

1:49 The End. Well after Alfred gives Jimmy a ring and says that this isn’t his, and then Annette tells Jimmy that it’s not his either, in which he slips it on her ring and they kiss. And it’s not a happily ever after because Annette is more happy in the water, so Esther Williams looks to the hospital’s window at the beach. Now it’s a happy ending.

And now, here’s a video I found of Esther Williams. It’s the best stunts from this movie.

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3 thoughts on “TCM 31 Days of Oscar – Million Dollar Mermaid

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