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THIS TIME FOR KEEPS (director: Richard Thorpe; screenwriters: Gladys Lehman/from a story by Erwin S. Gelsey & Lorraine Fielding; cinematographer: Karl Freund; editor: John Dunning; music: Calvin Jackson/George Stoll; cast: Esther Williams (Leonora ‘Nora’ Cambaretti), Jimmy Durante (Ferdi Farro), Lauritz Melchior (Richard Herald), Johnnie Johnston (Dick Johnson), Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra (Themselves), Dame May Whitty (Grandmother Cambaretti), Sharon McManus (Deborah Cambaretti), Dick Simmons (Gordon), Mary Stuart (Frances Allenbury), Ludwig Stossel (Peter), Dorothy Porter (Merle), Tommy Wonder (Himself); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joe Pasternak; MGM; 1947)
“It’s pleasant enough as a routine dimwitted time killer.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A featherweight Esther Williams swimsuit lavish Technicolor MGM musical comedy directed by Richard Thorpe (“Night Must Fall”/”Jailhouse Rock”/”Ivanhoe”) and produced by Joe Pasternak. It features 17 musical numbers that are mostly mediocre. Jimmy Durante sings his trademark tune “Inka Dinka Do.” Other songs include: “M’Appari” from “Martha,” “La Donna E Mobile” from “Rigoletto,” Cole Porter’s “You Are So Easy to Love,” “A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That,” “Chiquita Banana,” and “When It’s Lilac Time on Mackinac Island.” Gladys Lehman handles the screenplay from a story by Erwin S. Gelsey & Lorraine Fielding. It’s pleasant enough as a routine dimwitted time killer.

Wounded G.I. Dick Herald (Johnnie Johnston, popular crooner of the time) returns from the war and at a convalescent hospital falls for aqua star Leonora ‘Nora’ Cambaretti (Esther Williams) performing poolside for the wounded soldiers. He’s the son of the famous opera star Richard Herald (Lauritz Melchior, Danish-born famous Wagnerian tenor from the 1920s through the mid-40s). Later they meet in the city when Dick is discharged from the service. She’s unaware that Dick’s father is a famous opera singer and thinks he’s in need of a job, so tries to get her boss, wannabe suitor Gordon Coome (Dick Simmons), owner of the aquacade, to hire Dick.

Meanwhile Dick’s overbearing dad wants his son to join his opera company and marry Frances Allenbury (Mary Stuart), a childhood friend of Dick who is now a wealthy socialite. The only problem is Dick doesn’t love her and doesn’t want to be an opera star, instead he takes a gig singing with Xavier Cugat’s orchestra.

Ferdi Farro (Jimmy Durante), Nora’s pianist and nosy self-appointed protector, objects to Nora’s romantic interest in Dick. But Dick and the Aqua Caper star soon talk marriage until his controlling father announces Dick’s engagement to Frances, and she bolts. The rest of the pic has Ferdi, Nora’s ex-circus star mother (Dame May Whitty) and Dick’s dad, try to straighten out the mess he made for sonny boy by never consulting him. They arrange for them to meet at Mackinac Island, Michigan, where Nora’s vacationing. The lovers reconciliation takes place just before she was to elope with Gordon, and thereby the title is justified.

Incidentally, Stanley Donen did the choreography for the musical numbers.

REVIEWED ON 10/13/2009 GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”