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

Thursday, August 16, 2018


Esther Williams and Van Johnson
DUCHESS OF IDAHO (1950). Director: Robert Z. Leonard.

Ellen Hallet (Paula Raymond) is madly in love with her playboy boss, Doug Morrison (John Lund of The Perils of Pauline), but he doesn't know she's alive. He consistently has Ellen pretend to be his fiancee so he can dump other women in a very cruel fashion. While any woman with sense or self-respect would tell Doug to go screw himself, Ellen has to have him, and her sister, Christine (Esther Williams) -- a theatrical swimming star, of course -- comes up with an idea. This idea, which doesn't make much sense, is for her to go to Sun Valley where Doug is staying and romance him, apparently with the hopes of opening his eyes to Ellen's charms. Say what? As only can happen in the movies, this ploy apparently works until Doug finds out about it, and we mustn't forget the complication of band leader and singer Dick Layn (Van Williams), who falls for Christine but is put off by her attentions to Doug. Oy vey. The plot for this flick is pretty stupid, but it has its charms, mostly due to a winning cast. Paula Raymond [The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms] has one of her most memorable roles, and is on screen almost as long as Williams. (In fact, there are times when our gal almost seems crowded out of her own movie.) Johnson makes a handsome and adept leading man for Williams, Lund is also good, and Williams swims with distinction and plays with her usual saucy and sexy attitude. Eleanor Powell dances in a guest bit, Red Skelton cameos for a minute or two, and Connie Haines, as singer Peggy Elliott, is merely mediocre. Mel Torme plays a bellboy named Cyril and looks 14, Lena Horne warbles a number, and Amanda Blake [Counterspy Meets Scotland Yard] is effective as the slinky Linda, who tries to drag Doug to the altar. Clinton Sundberg makes his mark, as usual, as Doug's slightly acerbic butler. The song numbers, mostly be-bop or a lesser variation on swing music, are not memorable.

Verdict: The script is nothing to crow about, but the cast puts it over with aplomb. **1/2. 


angelman66 said...

Must have been one of MGM's lesser musicals because it doesn't ring a bell. Williams and Johnson were frequent costars and remained close friends for life...they did have good chemistry.

William said...