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Innocuous swimming musical comedy with some zesty Technicolor toppings. 3.5 Stars

MGM musicals don’t come much lighter and breezier than Edward Buzzell’s Neptune’s Daughter, Esther Williams’ second starring role of 1949, and with some tuneful Frank Loesser songs and gorgeous Technicolor in tow, she’s in very fine company indeed.

Neptune's Daughter (1949)
Released: 01 Jun 1949
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 95 min
Director: Edward Buzzell
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance
Cast: Esther Williams, Red Skelton, Ricardo Montalban
Writer(s): Dorothy Kingsley, Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat
Plot: A swimsuit fashion designer is determined to protect her scatterbrained sister from a South American heartbreaker, but a case of mistaken identity complicates matters.
IMDB rating: 6.4
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: MGM
Distributed By: Warner Archive
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 35 Min.
Package Includes:
Case Type: keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: All
Release Date: 03/14/2023
MSRP: $21.99

The Production: 3.5/5

MGM musicals don’t come much lighter and breezier than Edward Buzzell’s Neptune’s Daughter, Esther Williams’ second starring role of 1949. It’s her second film with Red Skelton, too, though unlike in their first movie Bathing Beauty, he’s not her love interest in this one. Here, she’s paired much more amenably with Ricardo Montalban and with some tuneful Frank Loesser songs and gorgeous Technicolor in tow, she’s in very fine company indeed.

Swimsuit designer Eve Barrett (Esther Williams) and her business manager Joe Backett (Keenan Wynn) have a thriving swimwear operation, but she’s constantly having to run interference for her daffy younger sister Betty (Betty Garrett) who falls for practically anything in pants. Reading about polo superstar José O’Rourke (Ricardo Montalban) visiting America for a championship match, she sneaks out to meet him only to mistake his American masseur Jack Spratt (Red Skelton) for the actual sportsman and falls for him. Trying to cool her sister’s ardor, Eve makes it a point to visit the real O’Rourke to beg him to give up his courtship though José knows nothing of Betty but is certainly interested in pursuing Eve. The comedy of mistaken identity continues almost to the bitter end when Jack must play in the championship match when the real O’Rourke is kidnapped by gangsters (Ted de Corsia, Mike Mazurki) who have bet heavily on the South American team losing the game.

Dorothy Kingsley’s screenplay is no great shakes, a simple matter of mistaken identity that three of the four participants have no idea is going on despite lots of evidence surrounding them that something is amiss (the fourth participant – Skelton’s Jack Spratt – is simply grateful to finally have any female interested in him so he continues his feeble impersonation to the conclusion). The plot is so fluffy and insubstantial that the players find themselves several times at Xavier Cugat’s nightclub where extended Latin American numbers consume plentiful screen time. One of MGM’s most reliable house directors Edward Buzzell is at the helm here, and he stages a quite hilarious sequence where three people attempt to help the hapless Spratt to mount his polo pony. More substantial are the three song and dance numbers all penned by legendary stage and screen composer Frank Loesser: Betty Garrett’s lively shenanigans with the orchestra in “I Love Those Men” which recalls some of her Broadway comic turns in Call Me Mister which had landed her the MGM contract, Ricardo Montalban’s amorous “My Heart Beats Faster” (sung with his own voice, his previous MGM song numbers having been dubbed), and the Oscar-winning “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in which all four of the stars participate with an enamored tone for Montalban-Williams and a farcical one for Skelton-Garrett. Naturally, the film ends with a water ballet though Esther is joined in the Jack Donahue-staged pageant by Ricardo who matches her stroke for stroke and proves himself probably her most adept swimming partner (this was their third film together).

Esther Williams found herself pregnant during the production of the movie perhaps explaining why she’s in less of the film than in almost any of her other MGM starring vehicles. Red Skelton and Betty Garrett make perfect foils for one another with their zaniness while Ricardo Montalban continued getting the MGM build-up to stardom being clothed in expensive, form-fitting suits and allowing the audience ample amounts to time to examine him in various states of undress (when he sustains a shoulder injury, he strips to the waist for a rubdown showing his powerfully developed upper body. Little wonder MGM would thrust him into a soldier’s uniform later in the year for Battleground and star him as a boxer in Right Cross the following year). Keenan Wynn has the thankless role of the man lucky-in-business/unlucky-in-love carrying the torch for Esther’s Eve while she falls for someone else. Mike Mazurki plays his usual dimwitted gangster but with some élan. Mel Blanc has a substantial supporting role as Pancho doing his patented Mexican accented persona that later became an entertaining foil for Jack Benny for decades.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film’s 1.37:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. As usual, Warner Archive has done wonders with their three-strip Technicolor masters delivering an image that’s breathtakingly colorful with perfect registration and gorgeous hues. There are no glimpses of dirt, debris, splices, or tears in this beautiful presentation. The movie has been divided into 28 chapters.

Audio: 5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix has excellent fidelity for the era. Dialogue has been well-recorded and is beautifully presented mixed expertly with the songs and background score and the various sound effects. There are no distracting anomalies like hiss, crackle, flutter, and pops.

Special Features: 3.5/5

Calloway Went Thataway excerpt (2:03, HD): Esther Williams’ brief cameo moment is presented.

Water Trix (8:37, HD): a Pete Smith Specialty

Theatrical Trailer (3:22, HD)

“I Want My Money Back” (4:26, HD): Betty Garrett outtake musical number

Hatch Up Your Troubles (7:42, HD): Tom & Jerry animated short

Radio Interview (4:48): Esther Williams is interviewed by Dick Simmons

Song Selection Menu: immediate access to nine musical moments in the film.

Overall: 3.5/5

There is lots of charming tomfoolery in the lighter-than-air fluff musical Neptune’s Daughter, all delivered with expert professionalism by Esther Williams, Ricardo Montalban, Red Skelton, and Betty Garrett. The Warner Archive Blu-ray is a stunner, another of their zowie Technicolor presentations that takes one’s breath away.


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Published by

Matt Hough


View thread (9 replies)

Will Krupp

Senior HTF Member
Oct 2, 2003
Real Name
breathtakingly colorful with perfect registration and gorgeous hues.

You can say THAT again!! Esther's fuchsia bathing suit made my eyes bleed (and they were happy to do so!)

Great review of a great disc, Matt. While it doesn't quite leap off the screen like the blu-ray of Take Me Out to the Ballgame (from the same year) did, it's mighty mighty close and I couldn't be more satisfied with it.

And such a fun time!
Last edited:

Robert Crawford

Senior HTF Member
Dec 9, 1998
Real Name
Aren't these films 17.99 by now? At 24.49 on Amazon this is a surprise to me.
Amazon pricing is affected by customer demand and other retailers pricing. I'm thinking the sales figures on this particular title is doing well. Be patient and just wait for the demand to drop which will also cause a price reduction.


Jul 10, 2018
Real Name
vincent parisi
Esther only gets one big number at the end and it's far too short. Disappointing. You get a lot of Red Skelton and unfortunately I'm not as enamored of him as when I was a boy. Though the hoary getting on a horse routine is terrific. A fair amount of Xavier Cougat which is always a good thing. Mel Blanc who would never get away with this today is also very funny.


Jul 10, 2018
Real Name
vincent parisi
As soon as you said Showgirl was down to 14.99. I grabbed it. Next day it was 17.49. The logarithms are odd.