Neptune’s Daughter (1949)
Directed by Edward Buzzell and written by Dorothy Kingsley (who would share a Best Writing Oscar some years later for her work on Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)) this below average Musical comedy stars Esther Williams (in the title role?) Keenan Wynn Red Skelton Ricardo Montalban and Betty Garrett. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” earned Frank Loesser his only Oscar on his fourth try out of five nominations for Best Song. The scene in which it’s sung by Williams with Montalban and Garrett with Skelton (the two couples) is one of the film’s best. Otherwise it’s pretty chauvinistic fluff.
Williams plays a champion swimmer whom Wynn’s character finally convinces to partner with him to sell swimsuits. They are very successful. Garrett plays Williams’s sister who can’t wait to find a fella that ends up meeting goofy masseur Skelton who’s never even kissed a girl. Enter Montalban South America’s best polo player. After losing a radio callout contest Skelton winds up giving the injured Montalban a massage who in turn gives Skelton some romance advice. Wynn decides that arranging a show for the visiting polo players would be good business and Garrett decides to be the first girl to meet their star José O’Rourke (Montalban) for her own desires. Garrett mistakes Skelton for O’Rourke and wanting to impress her & try out his new “moves” Skelton pretends to be José.
Trouble arises when the standoffish businesswoman Williams believes the horse riding playboy O’Rourke begins courting her; she thinks he’s pursuing her and her sister at the same time! This well oiled case of mistaken identity theme is about all there is to sustain the rest of the film besides some singing dancing and music played by Xavier Cugat (as himself) and his band. Naturally this device only delays the inevitable each gal will end up with their guy though Williams puts up the most resistance with Wynn making his own play for her in a losing effort to Montalban.
There is a subplot involving a gangster (Ted de Corsia) and his dumb heavy (the always reliable Mike Mazurki) who figures capturing O’Rourke before the big polo match will be a good way to win a big gambling bet. Otherwise the only other feature of note is some humorous not politically correct scenes with Mel Blanc playing a South American named Pancho. Then of course there are the swimsuits and their models as well as the standard synchronized swimming routines which are typical of Ms. Williams’s films.