On an Island With You (1948): Routine Esther Williams Star Vehicle

Richard Thorpe directed On an Island With You, a musical Technicolor romantic comedy, starring Esther Williams, Peter Lawford, Ricardo Montalbán, Cyd Charisse, and Jimmy Durante.

Grade: C+ (** out of *****)

On an Island with You
Theatrical release poster featuring caricatures of Esther Williams, Peter Lawford, Ricardo Montalbán and Jimmy Durante.

Theatrical release poster

Williams plays Rosalind Reynolds, a swimming star who goes to Hawaii to make a film set on a tropical island, bringing along fiancé Ricardo Montez (Ricardo Montalbán).

Complications arise when a military technical adviser for the film, U.S. Navy Lt. Lawrence Y. Kingslee (Peter Lawford) falls for her her, while Yvonne Torro (Cyd Charisse), her best friend, secretly wants Ricardo for herself.

Larry, who had met her three years before on a USO show at his Pacific base, is smitten with Rosalind, and plans to spirit her away on his aircraft.

At the Royal Aloha hotel, the film cast and crew are entertained by real-life orchestra leader Xavier Cugat and his orchestra.

The next day, Larry flies to the actual island where he first met her, knowing Rosalind is attracted to him. Returning to their aircraft, the two discover that the natives have stolen parts, effectively stranding them on the island.

Meanwhile, her fiancé and the search party are captured by the cannibals inhabiting the tropical isle, but are saved by his rival. With Larry facing a court-martial, Rosalind tries to help him by accepting blame for the flight to the island.

In the happy ending, Yvonne gets romantically involved with Ricardo, and Larry and Rosalind finally realize they are very much in love.

Cast

Esther Williams as Rosalind Reynolds
Peter Lawford as Lt. Lawrence Y. Kingslee
Ricardo Montalbán as Ricardo Montez (singing voice dubbed by Bill Lee)
Jimmy Durante as Jimmy Buckley
Cyd Charisse as Yvonne Torro
Leon Ames as Commander Harrison
Kathryn Beaumont as Penelope Peabody aka Pineapple
Dick Simmons as George Blaine
Xavier Cugat as himself

Songs
Music by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Edward Heyman, except where noted:

“On an Island With You”
“The Dog Song”
“I Know Darn Well I Can Do Without Broadway” (music and lyrics by Jimmy Durante)
“Takin’ Miss Mary to the Ball”
“I’ll Do the Strut-Away (in my Cutaway)” (music and lyrics by Durante, Harry Donnelly, Irving Caesar)
“You Gotta Start Off Each Day With a Song” (Durante)

Credits:

Directed by Richard Thorpe
Produced by Joe Pasternak
Screenplay by Charles Martin, Hans Wilhelm, Dorothy Kingsley, Dorothy Cooper, Story by Martin and Wilhelm

Music by Albert Sendrey, George Stoll

Cinematography Charles Rosher
Edited by Douglass Biggs, Ferris Webster

Production: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed by Loew’s Inc.

Release date: May 3, 1948

Running time: 107 minutes
Budget $2,527,000
Box office $5,282,000

Note:

TCM showed this movie (and other Williams pictures) on May 4, 2021.