Thrill of a Romance

Thrill of a Romance (5/28/15) TCM (1945 ***) Directed by Richard Thorpe, starring Van Johnson, Esther Williams, Frances Gifford and Lauritz Melchior. A newlywed gets abandoned by her jerk husband on their honeymoon and in his absence she falls in love with a G.I. First off, to really enjoy this film, it helps if you love opera, because Thrill of a Romance features lots of operatic singing. If that’s not your thing, never fear: It also features quite a few scenes with Ms. Williams swimming, very nearly becoming a swimsuit fashion show. The film doesn’t have much of a plot, but then you wouldn’t really expect one from light fare like this. That Williams would wind up with her five times co-star Van Johnson was a foregone conclusion, but since her character was technically married… well, there remained the question of how it would happen without crossing 1940s codes of morality and infidelity. Since Williams’ husband exited for business dealings before their first night together as a married couple, I wondered if the film would somehow address the unconsummated state of their marriage and use that for grounds of annulment. Instead, the writers took another, not-nearly-as-satisfying solution.

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