Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


Fernando Lamas and Esther Williams
DANGEROUS WHEN WET (1953). Director: Charles Walters.

Katie Higgins (Esther Williams) belongs to a very healthy Arkansas family whose farm needs a lot of improvement. Along comes Windy Weebe (Jack Carson), who hawks a dubious product known as Liquipep. Katie is able to resist Windy's all-too-obvious advances, but she decides to let Liquipep sponsor her whole family in a race to swim the English Channel. While getting in training both in England and France, Katie meets a wealthy French playboy named Andre (Fernando Lamas of The Lost World), but his pursuit of her may endanger her chances of winning the race. Dangerous When Wet is a very entertaining and amiable pic with a funny script by Dorothy Kingsley and very good performances from Williams and the rest of the cast, which includes William Demarest and Charlotte Greenwood [Up in Mabel's Room] as Katie's parents; Denise Darcel as the very buxom French entry Gigi; and Barbara Whiting [Fresh from Paris] as Katie's younger sister, Suzie, who warbles "I Like Men." The bouncy, pleasant score is by Arthur Schwartz and Johnny Mercer, and also includes "I Got Outa Bed," "My Wildest Dreams;" and "Ain't Nature Great." Williams doesn't have a bad voice, and while Lamas can carry a tune, his tones are not exactly dulcet. The film has two major highlights: Charlotte Greenwood going into her dance with such obvious joy and kicking up her heels like she's double-jointed; and the suspenseful climax when Katie desperately tries to make it across the twenty miles of the channel, which is filmed in harrowing detail. Another bright moment is a sequence when Williams has a dream of being underwater with the cartoon characters Tom and Jerry, as well as a grabby octopus that is meant to represent Lamas. When the Higgins family first gets to England, the business with all of the fog is funny but causes eye strain after awhile.Williams married Lamas sixteen years after this film was made and they remained together until his death.

Verdict: Possibly Williams' best picture, and an unqualified delight. ***.


angelman66 said...

Have not seen this one In years, and now I need to again. it is indeed a charmer. Lamas is gorgeous...and I also have a little bit of a crush on Jack Carson too...he has always been one of my favorites.
I met Miss Esther Williams once years ago at the Red Cross Ball in Palm Beach. She was accompanied by her MGM cohorts Van Johnson and Kathryn Grayson. All were gracious, but Esther had a real devilish sense of humor.
- Chris

William said...

That must have been quite an evening, meeting Williams and Johnson and Grayson! I've never met Esther but I've heard that she was a real card and rather racy. Jack Carson was an excellent actor, although I can't say he "appealed" to me otherwise, although I always thought Johnson was cute, LOL! Funny that it took sixteen years for Williams and Lamas to get hitched, although I imagine they didn't wait that long for other things, so to speak!