|Thrill of a Romance|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard Thorpe|
|Produced by||Joe Pasternak|
|Written by|| Richard Connell |
|Starring|| Van Johnson |
Carleton G. Young
|Music by|| Calvin Jackson |
|Edited by||George Boemler|
|May 23, 1945|
Thrill of a Romance (also known as Thrill of a New Romance)is an American Technicolor romance film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1945, starring Van Johnson, Esther Williams and Carleton G. Young, with musical performances by Tommy Dorsey & his Orchestra and opera singer Lauritz Melchior. The film was directed by Richard Thorpe and written by Richard Connell and Gladys Lehman.
The film tells the story of Cynthia Glenn, who, after a whirlwind romance, marries a rich businessman. However, on the first day of their honeymoon, her new husband is called away to Washington, leaving her alone at a resort. During this time, she meets and falls in love with a war hero, Tommy Milvaine, played by Van Johnson.
This was the second of five films that paired Williams and Johnson together. Made over a period of eight years, those that followed were Easy to Wed (1946), Duchess of Idaho (1950) and Easy to Love (1953).
Thrill of a Romance was a box office success, becoming the seventh-highest-grossing film of 1945.
Cynthia Glenn (Esther Williams) is a swimming instructor in Los Angeles, where she lives with her scatterbrained aunt and uncle Nona and Hobart (Spring Byington and Henry Travers). While demonstrating a dive, she catches the eye of an interested stranger, Bob Delbar (Carleton G. Young). Cynthia receives flowers from the stranger. The two court for one month, then get married.
On their honeymoon at the hotel Monte Belva, they encounter the famous opera singer, Nils Knudsen (Lauritz Melchior). Major Thomas Milvaine (Van Johnson), also staying at the hotel, notices Cynthia. A rich colleague, J. P. Bancroft, insists that Bob come to Washington, D.C. to complete a deal. While Cynthia cries over Bob's departure, Tommy, staying next door, comforts her.
Next day by the pool, she and Bancroft's daughter, Maude (Frances Gifford) speculate as to which hotel guest is Major Thomas Milvaine, the decorated war hero, who shot down "16... or was it 26 war planes?" and was stuck on a deserted island for a month. After Maude teases Cynthia about being at the hotel without her husband, Cynthia performs an elaborate dive and runs into Major Milvaine himself, who can't actually swim, so she teaches him how.
For the rest of the week, Cynthia and Tommy continue accompanying each other to dinner and other activities around the hotel, including swimming. On the last day, Cynthia receives a telegram from Bob informing her that he can't return for another week. Tommy is leaving the next morning, and Cynthia is distraught, so she retires to her room. Tommy realizes he loves her, rushes to their adjoining balcony, confesses his love and that he will stay for another week. Cynthia reiterates that she's a married woman, and therefore won't let him hop over the hedge separating their two balconies and make love to her. She calls Bob and begs him to return, but he can't.
Cynthia looks for Tommy the next morning, but is told that he has checked out. She goes for a walk on the Sunset Trail. Tommy sets off after her on the trail. Bob telephones the hotel and leaves a message that he will arrive the following morning. Tommy and Cynthia spot a tree with initials engraved on it. Cynthia tells Tommy that she loves him but wants to give her marriage a chance, so they should never see each other again. However, they lose their way and are forced to spend the night in the woods.
The next morning, Bob can't find his wife in the hotel. When they do return, Tommy tries to explain their disappearance, while Bob realizes that the two are in love. He becomes angry with Cynthia, and announces he wants an annulment. Bob calls his lawyer, learning he was never actually divorced from his previous wife. Tommy leaves to become an instructor at Darwin Field, and Cynthia returns home to her aunt and uncle.
Nils Knudsen telephones Tommy, and the two go to Cynthia's house late at night, where they serenade her. Tommy lip-synches Knudsen's voice to a love song to Cynthia. She runs outside to Tommy, and the two share a kiss while Knudsen continues singing, leaving Nona, and a bemused Hobart, to wonder how Tommy can sing and kiss at the same time.
Drummer Buddy Rich (uncredited, except for the 'BR' logo on his bass drum) notably performs a short solo in one scene, as well as playing with the Dorsey Orchestra in several others.
Sixteen-year-old Jerry Scott sings a beautiful rendition of Because (You Come to Me with Naught Save Love).
It was Esther Williams' first film following her debut as a star in Bathing Beauty. MGM described the film as "primarily a human comedy with musical trimmings".Johnson's casting was announced in March 1944. Robert Z. Leonard was meant to direct but he fell ill so Richard Thorpe took over.
When attempting to create the right shade of blue for the swimming pool, the set decorator discovered that the paint he had used to color the cement had dissolved after adding the chlorine to the pool, creating a mess with the consistency of homogenized milk. The pool had to be drained and refilled.
In her autobiography, Williams said that the studio attempted to put her and costar Van Johnson together in public as much as possible, even though she was involved with future husband (and ex-husband) Ben Gage. When asked why they didn't date, Johnson replied "because I'm afraid she can't get her webbed feet into a pair of evening sandals."
While filming, Williams and Thorpe rarely got along. After Williams forgot several lines during one take and the cast and crew began to leave for lunch, Williams notified Thorpe of her mistake. He called the entire crew back to the stage, saying "Turn the lights back on, boys. This lady wants to act." Williams locked herself in her dressing room for the rest of the day. After that episode, Thorpe stopped picking on her.
When filming the backstroke scenes in the swimming pool, Williams had to place her hand under Johnson's back to keep him afloat.
The Office of War Information voiced concern that the film, set in an elegant resort, would pose problems with overseas distribution. A memo from the agency claimed that films boasting of American opulence would be resented by the allies closer to the fighting front.
The film wrapped on October 1, 1944, and was released the following year. It was previewed in a small neighborhood outside of Los Angeles. Cards filled out by the audience were filled with comments such as "Van is a darling" and "I love that boy...I love him more than Frankie."
The film premiered at the Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, with the proceeds going to the war wounded. Johnson was overcome by female fans upon his arrival and exit to the theater. Fans stole his handkerchief, boutonnière and buttons from his shirt. They also yanked his tie, tore his collar and ripped his red hair from his head, leaving his scalp bleeding.
Bosley Crowther's review in The New York Times claimed that "the minutes drag on here unthrillingly" and that "as for Miss Williams, she models a bathing suit handsomely and cuts a fine figure in the water. But right there her talent ends."
A reviewer for the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Thrill of a Romance is all bright colors but the luster is only glaze deep. But its gaudiness will carry it through, especially with the fans."
When the film opened at the Capitol Theater in Manhattan, the critic from the New York Herald Tribune remarked that Johnson gave "the type of performance that has endeared him to the younger set. He is the antithesis of the 'wolf'...clean cut, amiable, a little shy, and needing aid and comfort."
Thrill of a Romance was the seventh top-grossing film of 1945 in the US and Canada, earning $4,338,000.It also earned $2,682,000 in other countries, resulting in a profit of $3,259,000.
On October 6, 2009, Turner Entertainment released Thrill of a Romance on DVD as part of the Esther Williams Spotlight Collection, Volume 2. The 6 disc set was a follow up to the company's Esther Williams Spotlight Collection, Volume 1, and contains digitally remastered versions of several of Williams's films including Fiesta (1947), This Time for Keeps (1947), Pagan Love Song (1950), Million Dollar Mermaid (1952) and Easy to Love (1953).
Thomas Francis Dorsey Jr. was an American jazz trombonist, composer, conductor and bandleader of the big band era. He was known as the "Sentimental Gentleman of Swing" because of his smooth-toned trombone playing. His theme song was "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You". His technical skill on the trombone gave him renown among other musicians. He was the younger brother of bandleader Jimmy Dorsey. After Dorsey broke with his brother in the mid-1930s, he led an extremely popular and highly successful band from the late 1930s into the 1950s. He is best remembered for standards such as "Opus One", "Song of India", "Marie", "On Treasure Island", and his biggest hit single, "I'll Never Smile Again".
James Francis Dorsey, professionally known as Jimmy Dorsey, was an American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, composer and big band leader. He recorded and composed the jazz and pop standards "I'm Glad There Is You " and "It's The Dreamer In Me". His other major recordings were "Tailspin", "John Silver", "So Many Times", "Amapola", "Brazil ", "Pennies from Heaven" with Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, and Frances Langford, "Grand Central Getaway", and "So Rare". He played clarinet on the seminal jazz standards "Singin' the Blues" in 1927 and the original 1930 recording of "Georgia on My Mind", which were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Esther Jane Williams was an American competitive swimmer and actress. Williams set multiple national and regional swimming records in her late teens as part of the Los Angeles Athletic Club swim team. Unable to compete in the 1940 Summer Olympics because of the outbreak of World War II, she joined Billy Rose's Aquacade, where she took on the role vacated by Eleanor Holm after the show's move from New York City to San Francisco. While in the city, she spent five months swimming alongside Olympic gold medal winner and Tarzan star Johnny Weissmuller. Williams caught the attention of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer scouts at the Aquacade. After appearing in several small roles, alongside Mickey Rooney in an Andy Hardy film, and future five-time co-star Van Johnson in A Guy Named Joe, Williams made a series of films in the 1940s and early 1950s known as "aquamusicals," which featured elaborate performances with synchronised swimming and diving.
The Dorsey Brothers were an American studio dance band, led by Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. They started recording in 1928 for OKeh Records.
Richard Thorpe was an American film director best known for his long career at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Charles Van Dell Johnson was an American film, television, theatre and radio actor, singer, and dancer. He was a major star at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer during and after World War II.
Joseph Herman Pasternak was a Hungarian-born American film producer in Hollywood. Pasternak spent the Hollywood "Golden Age" of musicals at MGM Studios, producing many successful musicals with singing stars like Deanna Durbin, Kathryn Grayson and Jane Powell, as well as swimmer/bathing beauty Esther Williams' films. He produced Judy Garland's final MGM film, Summer Stock, which was released in 1950. Pasternak worked in the film industry for 45 years, from the later silent era until shortly past the end of the classical Hollywood cinema in the early 1960s.
A Stolen Life is a 1946 American drama film starring Bette Davis, who also produced it. The film, based on the 1935 novel "A Stolen Life" by Karel Josef Benes, and was directed by Curtis Bernhardt. Among the supporting cast are Glenn Ford, Dane Clark, Peggy Knudsen, Charlie Ruggles, and Bruce Bennett. The movie is a remake of a 1939 British film Stolen Life starring Elisabeth Bergner and Michael Redgrave.
Duchess of Idaho is a musical romantic comedy produced in 1950 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Directed by Robert Z. Leonard, it was the fourth film pairing Esther Williams and Van Johnson. It was filmed at the MGM Studios lot and exteriors shot in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Million Dollar Mermaid is a 1952 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer biographical musical film of the life of Australian swimming star Annette Kellerman. It was directed by Mervyn LeRoy and produced by Arthur Hornblow Jr. from a screenplay by Everett Freeman. The music score was by Adolph Deutsch, the cinematography by George Folsey and the choreography by Busby Berkeley.
"How About You?" is a popular song composed by Burton Lane, with lyrics by Ralph Freed. It was introduced in the 1941 film Babes on Broadway by Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.
Bathing Beauty is a 1944 musical film starring Red Skelton, Basil Rathbone, and Esther Williams, and directed by George Sidney.
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Neptune's Daughter is a 1949 Technicolor musical romantic comedy film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer starring Esther Williams, Red Skelton, Ricardo Montalbán, Betty Garrett, Keenan Wynn, Xavier Cugat and Mel Blanc. It was directed by Edward Buzzell, and features the debut of the Academy Award–winning song "Baby, It's Cold Outside" by Frank Loesser.
Dangerous When Wet (1953) is a Technicolor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical film starring Esther Williams, Fernando Lamas, and Jack Carson, directed by Charles Walters, and featuring an animated swimming sequence starring Williams with the cat-and-mouse duo, Tom and Jerry.
Fiesta is an American Technicolor musical-drama film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1947, starring Esther Williams, Ricardo Montalbán, Mary Astor and Cyd Charisse. The film was directed by Richard Thorpe and written by George Bruce and Lester Cole.
Easy to Wed is a 1946 Technicolor American musical comedy film directed by Edward Buzzell, and starring Van Johnson, Esther Williams, Lucille Ball, and Keenan Wynn. The screenplay by Dorothy Kingsley is an adaptation of the screenplay of the 1936 film Libeled Lady by Maurine Dallas Watkins, Howard Emmett Rogers, and George Oppenheimer.
Easy to Love is a 1953 Technicolor musical film directed by Charles Walters. It stars Esther Williams and Van Johnson. It was Williams' final aquatic film with a U.S. setting.
On an Island with You is a 1948 musical Technicolor romantic comedy film directed by Richard Thorpe. It stars Esther Williams, Peter Lawford, Ricardo Montalbán, Cyd Charisse, Kathryn Beaumont and Jimmy Durante.
Up Swing is a compilation album of phonograph records released by bandleaders Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and Artie Shaw in 1944 as a part of the Victor Musical Smart Set series. The set, a progenitor to greatest hits releases, features some of the most popular Dance Band Era recordings by the four bandleaders.