It’s typical for most Esther Williams‘ films to start with some sort of swimming number.
The film doesn’t necessarily need it, but since Williams was an ex-swimmer it’s shoehorned into the film anyway.
On an Island With You is no different.
Directed by Richard Thorpe, and co-starring a talented cast that boasts the likes of Cyd Charisse, Peter Lawford, Richardo Montalban, Leon Ames, and Xavier Cugat, On an Island With You is your quintessential MGM musical.
With a flowery set, endless musical numbers and an impromptu cameo from a bandleader, the movie tells the story of a swimming star Rosalind Reynolds (Williams) and her efforts to film a movie in the lush jungles of Hawaii.
Stringing along her fiancé, Ricardo Montez (Montalban), on the island (hehe) the movie’s technical director, Lt. Lawrence Y. Kingslee (Lawford) falls in love with her instead. If the plot can’t get any wackier, Rosalind’s best friend, Yvonne Torro (Charisse) gets enamored with her friend’s almost husband, thus leading to a love rectangle, of sorts.
The rest of the movie sees Lawrence attempting to wine and dine Rosalind despite her being very involved with another man. It isn’t until he kidnaps her on a prop jet, whisking her away to different Hawaiian island that the plot really starts to kick into high gear.
While this is happening, Rosalind’s fiancé and the search party he brings together gets kidnapped by a group of cannibals who inhabit the island Lawrence took Rosalind on. Luckily, by the time Lawrence confesses his feelings for Rosalind and her fiancé finds them, in traditional classic Hollywood fashion, the problem gets fixed in the end.
Yvonne gets involved with Ricardo and Lawrence finally has his love reciprocated by Rosalind.
To be quite frank, when I initially watched this film, I really enjoyed it. Re-visiting it 3 years later, it didn’t leave the same impression it did a couple of years earlier.
I will admit, it’s a great movie, but compared the classic MGM greats, it’s hard to have On an Island with You stick out in your head.
Of course, there are people who enjoy the film, I can’t say I’m one of them. That’s not to say this movie doesn’t have great moments – because it does. Peter Lawford, for example, is a great actor. I’ve always loved him in whatever role he took on, this film is no different.
All in all, On an Island with You has a great premise but fails to make any lasting impact. Maybe, I’ll revisit it again in the future, who knows?
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