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Thrill of a Romance

Thrill of a Romance(1945)

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teaser Thrill of a Romance (1945)

Esther Williams finds romance on her honeymoon in Thrill of a Romance (1945) - but not with the man she expected. Williams plays a newlywed swimming instructor whose husband is called away from their honeymoon on business. Also vacationing at the same mountain resort is soldier on leave Van Johnson. Williams and Johnson do a little swimming and soon find themselves with a problem - they've fallen in love. Thrill of a Romance was the second of five movies Williams and Johnson made together. They first appeared together in the wartime romance A Guy Named Joe (1943). The success of their musical pairing in Thrill of a Romance led to three more song-filled movies -- Easy to Wed (1946), Easy to Love (1953) and Duchess of Idaho (1950).

Williams and Johnson find themselves surrounded by some impressive musical talent in Thrill of a Romance. Opera star Lauritz Melchior makes his presence known as soon as the credits roll. He opens Thrill of a Romance singing in close up over his billing as "The Metropolitan Opera Star." In this, his first film role, Melchior is cast as an opera star on a diet who plays cupid for Williams and Johnson. As Melchior's screen credit fades, the movie segues into the music of popular bandleader Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra.

Thrill of a Romance was one of a number of film appearances Dorsey and his orchestra made at MGM in the 1940s. Other Dorsey films include Girl Crazy (1943), DuBarry Was a Lady (1943) and Broadway Rhythm (1944). Dorsey first formed an orchestra in the late 1920s with brother Jimmy. Appropriately called The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, the band featured some big names such as trombonist Glenn Miller and crooner Bing Crosby. But the Dorsey brothers fought constantly and eventually split up in 1935, each forming his own orchestra. The brothers did come together for one film - 1947's The Fabulous Dorseys. They eventually reunited in 1953 and went on to have a popular variety show on CBS, called Stage Show, that featured the first television appearance of Elvis Presley.

Lauritz Melchior was 55 when he made his film debut in Thrill of a Romance. Melchior was born in Copenhagen on March 20, 1890. He first appeared with the Copenhagen Royal Opera in 1913 and made his U.S. debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 1926. MGM producer Joe Pasternak heard Melchior on the radio and brought the tenor to Hollywood where he made several films for the studio between 1945 and 1948. There was Two Sisters from Boston (1946) with Kathryn Grayson and June Allyson, This Time for Keeps (1947) again with Esther Williams and Jimmy Durante and Luxury Liner (1948) with George Brent and Jane Powell. Melchior was reportedly delighted with his film work, while the manager of the Metropolitan Opera was less than thrilled. Melchior did not renew his contract with the opera but he kept busy with TV guest appearances and concerts. And he appeared in one more film - for Paramount - The Stars Are Singing (1953).

Also worth noting in Thrill of a Romance are The King Sisters, one of the big band era's most popular singing groups. Another familiar face is Henry Travers who plays Williams' Uncle Hobart in the film. Travers is best know for playing angel Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

Producer: Joe Pasternak
Director: Richard Thorpe
Screenplay: Richard Connell, Gladys Lehman
Cinematography: Harry Stradling, Sr.
Film Editing: George Boemler
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Hans Peters
Music: Ralph Blane, Earl Brent, Sammy Fain, Ralph Freed, Jack Meskill, George Stoll, Axel Stordahl, Kay Thompson, Paul Weston
Cast: Van Johnson (Maj. Thomas Milvaine), Esther Williams (Cynthia Glenn), Frances Gifford (Maude Bancroft), Henry Travers (Hobart Glenn), Spring Byington (Nona Glenn), Lauritz Melchior (Nils Knudsen).
C-105m. Closed captioning.

by Stephanie Thames

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