Dangerous When Wet (1953)
Directed by Charles Walters (Lili (1953)) and written by Dorothy Kingsley (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)) this Esther Williams film also stars her future husband Fernando Lamas who swims with her during this musical romantic comedy. Though absent much of the spectacular synchronized swimming that’s a staple in virtually all of her other films this one does feature an extended animated sequence in which Ms. Williams swims with Tom & Jerry and other cartoon characters. Also appearing are Jack Carson Charlotte Greenwood and William Demarest.
The Higgins family is a healthy one the family that swims together stays together. Unfortunately their family farm isn’t doing so well. What they really need is a prize bull to breed better dairy cows than they currently have and a few repairs here and there. Enter Windy Weebe (Carson) a vitamin serum (“Liquapep”) traveling salesman that meets the farmer’s daughter Katie Higgins (Williams). When he happens upon the fit family and learns that Ma (Greenwood) Pa (Demarest) Junior (Donna Corcoran) and Suzie (Barbara Whiting) recently swam in a 14 mile river race along with Katie who won it he knows he’s found a perfect promotion for his wares. He convinces “the Colonel” (someone we never see who Windy speaks to via the telephone) to sponsor the family in an attempt to cross the English Channel. The family is willing to go along with it because of their financial need and because Windy tells them the distance is only 20 miles.
Once in France the Higgins family learns that crossing the channel is really a 30 to 40 mile swim because of the route one must take to traverse its currents. However they begin their training in earnest anyway which occasionally involves promoting Liquapep the vitamin product none of them can stand to swallow. On one particularly foggy day Katie meets rich playboy André Lanet (Lamas) while he’s rowing to his yacht; Windy meets another swimmer Gigi Mignon (Denise Darcel). Of course a romance begins between Katie and André (and Windy & Gigi) which threatens her training schedule and the possibility that she’s be fit enough to accomplish the task. Additionally Pa mortgages the family farm and bets it all on someone in their family winning the race. It also becomes clear that only Katie will be able to attempt the crossing among the family. I’m sure you can guess the result.