review for Bathing Beauty on AllMovie

Bathing Beauty (1944)
by Craig Butler review

Bathing Beauty gave birth to the Esther Williams aquacade film and is one of the better examples of that genre, perhaps because it features a winning and engaging performance from Red Skelton. Indeed, Bathing Beauty was initially conceived of as a starring vehicle for Skelton (minus all of the aquatics, of course), and he actually has much more responsibility for carrying the picture than Williams, whose debut as a lead performer this was. Skelton is a delight throughout, reining in his tendency to overplay and coming across as quite touching in several moments. He also gets plenty of opportunity to let loose, most memorably in a comic ballet sequence. Williams is fine when on land and a winner when wet, and the big ballets that open and close the movie are highlights, the fire-and-water finale especially being memorable. The plot is so much nonsense, the dialogue rarely more than serviceable, and the supporting actors are largely wasted, with Basil Rathbone sleepwalking through his negligible part. But the musical guests range from good to great (with the notable exception of the big-voiced but boring Carlos Ramirez) and director George Sidney keeps the whole silly affair bubbling along nicely.