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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cinema Spotlight-Neptune's Daughter

If you are looking for summer vintage swimwear style inspiration you couldn't do better then to check out the 1949 film Neptune's Daughter starring swimming beauty Esther Williams.  The plot is perhaps a bit trite, even for a musical comedy, but the style, a brief moment when the glamour of the 40s met the atomic fun of the 50s is divine, and in the whole it makes for a completely enjoyable, utterly stylish film.

Esther plays Eve Barette a beautiful swim wear designer.  Eve whips up stunning suits, and models and swims expertly in them, which has her boss thoroughly smitten.

Love the hip detail on this amazing suit, Image Source

Eve however, is oblivious; business minded to the core she is to busy designing for romance. 

The grey suit here conveys the button up image, and very stylishly too, Image Source

This brown suit is one of my favorite looks in the film, I love the buttons and collar.  

Not so Eve's sister, Betty, a head in the clouds blonde who is desperate for a bit of romance and adventure. 

Image Source  I really like how Betty's girlish style in the film, exemplified in this jumper and ascot, contrasts with her sister's more sophisticate look, while still being pretty and stylish

Eve learns the south American polo team will be visiting
"Neptune's Daughter"  is one of the first films to prominently feature characters watching television, and look how stylishly Eve watches.  Everything about this image from the mid century modern TV and console, to the china, to the white dress with green polka dot detail is perfect.

  and suggests staging a fashion show in their.  The show features some of the most glamorous swim suits of all time presented on a gorgeous Tiki style set:

image source

Image Source

The culmination of the show features Eve clad in a white one piece executing a perfect dive into the pool in order to demonstrate the suits functionality in the water.

Image Source

Enter the South American Polo team captain, Jose, as played by Ricardo Montalban, of Khan fame.  (The Wrath of Khan is my all time favorite film so this gave me a thrill).  Jose takes one look at the glamorous and sporty Eve and its love at first sight.

Image Source  I love Ricardo's spiffy checked jacket.  He looks so stylish here, who could believe he would betray Captain Kirk in such a dastardly way, but that's another blog post.

 Betty meanwhile goes on the hunt for a polo player of her very own

but instead of meeting her target Jose she runs into the Polo teams massage therapist, Jack Spratt, as played bv Red Skelton.   Jack is smitten with Betty and they hit it off right away.  However, in the aim of holding her interest he continues to pretend to be Jose:

I love Betty's 1940s beach pajama look here.

When Betty tells her sister of her romance with the polo player.  Eve is decidedly displeased.  Convinced her naïve sister is being taken advantage off she sends for Jose.

image source

While wearing a divine yellow polka dot blouse that sets off Ricardo's check suit brilliantly, she lets Jose know in no uncertain terms that she is against his romance with her sister.  A confused Jose tries to turn the situation to his romantic advantage, by promising to  to leave her sister alone in exchange for a date:

For the date Eve is beautifully attired in a sequined snood, a fur wrap, and a three color sequin column dress.    Eve seems to be trying rather hard for a date she cares nothing about.    Back at Jose's apartment the two dance to Baby It's Cold Outside.  The gorgeous 1950s décor of Jose's apartment, I want to live there right now,  distracts somewhat from the confusing fact that prior to this scene the film seemed to be set in the summer months:

If I ever again in my life attend a formal event, this is the dress I want to wear.

As Ricardo and Esther deliver their elegant version of the song Betty and Rett do their screwball version:

After the date a confused Eve is now charmed by Jose but doesn't want to hurt her sister's feeling.  Adding to the romantic troubles Betty announces that she and Jose are now engaged:

I love both suits here, the more sophisticated tan number and the more playful blue with white details.

The mistaken identities, glamorous fashions, and gorgeous sets continue:

image source

Image Source

Eventually all the confusion is sorted out when the South American polo team wins the match  and everyone comes clean about who they really are.

I love the red polka dot detail on this white suit.

  A culminating swim spectacle seals the stylish show:

Watch the full clip at TCM here (trust me you want to see it).

image source


  1. Wow, they really did have swimsuit figures in those days!
    Lynne x

  2. Those clothes and those women are so beautiful, but we like your header the best.
    stella rose

  3. Great post! Those outftis and swimsuits are so dreamy and so is Ricardo...swoon! xox

  4. Those swimsuits are beautiful! And I love that tan suit. Very sophisticated looking indeed!

  5. Wow! So many great costumes (swimming and otherwise!). I try not to let a trite plot get in the way of my enjoyment of a movie :P

  6. What great photos of all those bathing suits

  7. So modern and sexy at that time
    Lily & Edward

  8. OMG some of those swimsuits are amazing!! I wish they made those today, I could see myself trying one of those out. :-)

  9. Lovely post!!! I saw this film as a youngster and remember swooning over the fashions in it back then. I just did so again now and am sooo coveting the suits and dresses all of the ladies you highlighted are wearing. The pinky-red vest + skirt combo in particular really appeals to me. If only repro brands would churn out styles like these based on fashions from our favourite vintage movies!

    ♥ Jessica


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