Million Dollar Mermaid (1952) - Rotten Tomatoes

Million Dollar Mermaid1952

Million Dollar Mermaid (1952)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Who else but Esther Williams could star in a romantic drama (with musical numbers) bearing a title like this? In Million Dollar Mermaid, Williams plays Annette Kellerman, a real-life Australian swimming star who took up the sport as a child to strengthen her legs, which were severely weakened by a birth defect. The treatment proves effective, and as she grows to adulthood, Annette shows that she has the talent to be a champion swimmer, though she prefers to follow her dream of becoming a ballet dancer. When Annette's father Frederick (Walter Pidgeon) accepts a position in London teaching music, Annette opts to go with him, and along the way she meets James Sullivan (Victor Mature) and Doc Cronnol (Jesse White), the joint-owners of a boxing kangaroo they intend to exhibit in London. James is already aware of Annette's abilities as a competitive swimmer, and he offers to be her manager and help her earn a living from her aquatic skills. At first Annette isn't interested, but when Frederick's job falls through and she can't find work as a dancer, Annette reluctantly agrees to work with James. He arranges a publicity stunt in which Annette swims 30 miles down the Thames River, which attracts the avid attention of the British press and wins her some work as a dancer. Convinced that the big money is in America, James persuades Annette to travel with him to the U.S., where she creates a scandal in Boston by staging another long swim in a one-piece bathing suit, considered shockingly-revealing at the turn of the Century. The stunt nearly lands Annette in jail, but she escapes the long arm of the law and becomes the star of a water ballet revue. Annette had fallen in love with James, but after an argument, he resigns as her manager and Annette takes up with Alfred Harper (David Brian), the male lead in her show. Annette and Alfred agree to marry while working on a movie together, but James returns on the last day of shooting, determined to win back the heart of the woman he loves. Legendary choreographer Busby Berkeley staged the film's elaborate water-ballet sequences.

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Esther Williams
as Annette Kellerman
Victor Mature
as James Sullivan
Walter Pidgeon
as Frederick Kellerman
David Brian
as Alfred Harper
Donna Corcoran
as Annette (age 10)
Jesse White
as Doc Cronnel
Charles Watts
as Policeman
Frank Ferguson
as Prosecutor
James Flavin
as Conductor
Charles Heard
as Official
Queenie Leonard
as Mrs. Graves
Wilson Benge
as Caretaker
Al Ferguson
as London Bobby
Thomas P. Dillon
as Process Server
Vernon P. Downing
as Newspaper Man
James L. Kelly
as Policeman
Pat Flaherty
as Policeman
Paul Bradley
as Defense Attorney
Jimmy Aubrey
as Pawnbroker
Patrick O'Moore
as Master of Ceremonies
George D. Wallace
as Bud Williams
Louis Manley
as Fire-eater
Pat O'Moore
as Master of Ceremonies
Edward Clark
as Elderly Man
Rod Rogers
as Marcellino the Clown
Harry Hines
as Watchman
Tom Dillon
as Process Server
Mack Chandler
as Robbie the Prop Man
Paul H. Frees
as Band Leader
Gail Bonney
as Outraged Woman
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Critic Reviews for Million Dollar Mermaid

All Critics (7)

Esther Williams, cinema's singular swimming sensation, landed one of her best roles in this biopic about aquatic Australian star Annette Kellerman.

August 5, 2020 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Truly one of the most beautiful films of the 1950s, and it's a pleasure to watch Berkeley indulge his more expressionistic tendencies with a full palate of breathtaking color.

August 1, 2020 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

If you know [Esther] Williams only from clips in That's Entertainment, see this splashy epic to get an idea of what all the excitement was about.

July 28, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The renowned Australian swimmer, Annette Kellerman, gets Hollywood's respectful biographical salute in a draggy but spectacular water-musical, starring Esther Williams.

October 7, 2019 | Full Review…

If you can get past the tedious love story, then you will be rewarded in seeing the absolute best water-ballet routines ever filmed.

September 20, 2005 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

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