Finally we get to see Esther Williams flicks in radiant colors and updated sound! Not that the DVD transfers are perfect, Criterion-league: there are specks and scratches from time to time, and blacks tend to bleed, particularly in the early ones (e.g. Bathing Beauty). But what a pleasure it is to have this joyful entertainement back, put together with care and intelligence. There's bonus material galore, though not all of it dealing with the star.
Included in the Bathing Beauty disc is a substantial interview Ms. Williams did with Robert Osborne for Turner Classic Movies. Ms. Williams comes across as somebody who has always been level headed, with a realistic view of life, aware of alternatives and skeptical of show-biz, always marveled at her good fortune (wondering when it would end), with the self-assurance gained from awareness of her personal worth. Nothing delusional there: underneath the Hollywood glamour, throughout her career and beyond, she has retained the mindset and integrity of a committed, champion athlete, i.e., it's the hard work, constancy and achievement that count, not the glitz or the noise (she was slated to participate in the 1940 Olympics had WWII not interfered). All these personal qualities come across in her films, and probably made her a star, unique in her genre. Before, during and after, there was no other. Though she was a fine craftsman and learned her trade well as an actress, she really only played one character, Esther Williams. Audiences flocked to "Esther Williams movies," with all fantasy such would entail (of course, production values count). It is difficult not to feel that she'd be a great friend to have. During the interview Robert Osborne can barely contain his delight.
Suspend disbelief, just enjoy. I hope we don't have to wait as long for Volume 2, which would include Million Dollar Mermaid and Easy to Love.
For fans, I would also recommend reading her down-to-earth autobiography.