Sunday, September 29, 2013

Skirts Ahoy: A Musical Movie Featuring the WAVES

I watched this on TCM recently. Now, I confess I'm not that into the old musicals. The musical scenes are really cheesy. This was no exception. I found myself fast forwarding most of them. I mean, let's be realistic, who is going to start singing, dancing, and swinging around chairs in the middle of an upscale restaurant? OR even sillier, put on some sudden underwater performance with two children? (And singing to a water toy was a bit much.)

But...I watched this because it's a comedy about WAVES (the first ladies in the Navy). The WAVES were started during WWII, 1942 to be exact. This is not a biographical movie, however, but a comedy and musical. It follows three women during basic training.

Whitney Young (Esther Williams) is a runaway bride with a reputation for making trouble. Even though her uncle can pull strings to get her an officer position, she say she "doesn't want it to be easy" and wants the same privileges or lack of as the other ladies. She rises based on her own merits and starts a romance--really rocky at first--with the base doctor. She's a cool character and does the gist of the singing. As I said, I fast forwarded those.

Mary Kate (Joan Evans) is a jilted bride. She is really spineless at first, wants nothing more than to go home and play house. I didn't like her...but then when her former beau pays her a visit, whoa, the claws come out!!! LOVE the scene in which she says she no longer thinks him good enough, or something along those terms. You'd have to see it, but I guarantee you'll be delighted to see this gal grow a backbone.

Yancy (Vivian Blaine) is a girl who joined the WAVES just to find a man she's crushing on. Can't say she ever grew on me but she was funny sometimes.

Liked: Some of the funny bits. Watching Mary Kate grow. The rocky romance between Young and the doctor. Enjoyed watching these ladies try to get their men... Liked the uniforms. Got a kick out of it when they misbehaved and got punished for it.

I've never seen another WAVE movie before, but I imagine life as a new WAVE was pretty similar to this--minus the dancing. They had to do chores, get up early, taking swimming lessons, and they got leave here and there. They also faced reprimand and chose squad leaders.

Disliked: The theme and especially the song about "what's a gal without a guy?" Too much of the tale implied these women HAD to have men to be complete. The musical scenes were cheesy. As I said above, nobody just starts singing and dancing in the middle of a pool or restaurant. Also didn't care for the sudden love confession at the end, when there was no inkling whatsoever he felt anything for her...hum. 

Fun fact found on IMDb's trivia page for this movie:
Esther Williams "designed the swimsuits in the film (with the help of Cole of California), after seeing the Navy's swimsuits for women. Esther describes the old ones as "cotton sleeveless T-shirts" that were not at all good for swimming. She spoke to the director of the Navy, who then made the swimsuit the new official swimsuit of the US Navy."

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