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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

THIS TIME FOR KEEPS -- Movie Review by Porfle

After the muted Southwestern hues of Esther Williams' previous film FIESTA, 1947's THIS TIME FOR KEEPS (photographed by Karl Freund) is a colorful confection.

If you can get past Esther's arresting picture on the disc menu, the film opens with her as "Aqua Capers" star Nora Cambaretti, simultaneously torturing and delighting some injured WWII soldiers by prancing around the pool looking gorgeous.

She meets Dick (Johnnie Johnston), temporarily blinded by an eye injury, who falls in love with her just her voice. Too bad she's already sorta engaged to her boring producer, Gordon (Dick Simmons), although we know this relationship's totally doomed. (Sorry, Gordo.)

Dick, meanwhile, is in a bit of a JAZZ SINGER-type mess, since he wants to croon popular swing tunes while his dad, famous opera singer Richard Herald (Lauritz Melchior again), insists that his son follow in his footsteps. (Come to think of it, this is mighty similar to Ricardo Montalban's dilemma in FIESTA.)

Dick's also expected to marry the dour, bland socialite Frances Allenbury (Mary Stuart), which we also know ain't a-gonna happen. Sometimes it's nice to watch a movie where you don't have to worry about stuff like that.

THIS TIME FOR KEEPS is loaded with music, with Melchior serving up the opera while Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra make with the swing (including the ever-popular "Chiquita Banana" song).

Here also we finally get one of those elaborate water-follies numbers that Esther Williams is known for, choreographed by Stanley Donen. As the great Jimmy Durante (playing her performing partner Ferdi Farro) croons some cringe-inducing lyrics about taxes and "taking off ten percent for your agent", Esther struts around the pool doing an alluring striptease from evening gown to bathing suit before taking the plunge amidst dozens of synchronized water sprites.

(If you love a good wallow in pure, undiluted kitsch, this is it.)

Esther's character seems a little aloof in this one until she takes Dick to meet her grandmother (Dame May Whitty) and cute little niece Deborah (Sharon McManus) on Michigan's Mackinac Island. There we get to know the real Nora in a homey setting amidst beautiful snow-covered scenery.

Later the island is seen in its multi-colored spring glory as Nora and Dick hash out their conflicts caused when Frances' mother runs a premature engagement announcement in the paper.

Needless to say, Ferdi, Dick's father, Grandma, and Deborah eventually cook up a plan to make things right between the two lovebirds again.

THIS TIME FOR KEEPS drags a little in its overlong trudge toward the inevitable ending, but there's still a lot of fun along the way.


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