I've heard that this movie was not a completely accurate story of the life of Annette Kellerman. Since I don't really know her story, I cannot say, but I did enjoy this film, as I've enjoyed all of Esther Williams' films. Esther Williams is the most wonderful, beautiful, sweetheart of a girl to watch. Even when she gets upset (which is never that often cause she always has such good spirits), she still seems so nice and innocent. And her swimming is always a joy to watch. In "Million dollar mermaid", Esther starts off as a little girl who is overcoming polio. She still can't walk straight, but she tries to swim. And she does it pretty well for the first time. Her father is concerned at first, but then really admires her determination and decides he will be right there with her.
As she's grown up, we see Esther as a terrific swimmer and diver. One scene in particular, Esther gets in trouble on a NY beach for indecent exposure. She is wearing a one piece bathing suit that shows all of her arms and about 75% of her legs, but nothing else. I know that this film takes place at the turn of the 1900s, but it's still jarring to see a woman making such a scene and getting arrested for that when today you've got topless women all over the beaches of Europe (and the Caribbean and Miami) wearing absolutely nothing but the tiniest g string bikini bottoms.
As the film continues, we see her achievements, first as Esther swims all the way down the Thames in London to Greenwich, and then her performing at the Hippodrome in New York. She does some dazzling numbers there such as flipping around underwater, sitting in a giant clamshell with a pearl, jumping off a 50 foot high platform ( the platform itself is so beautiful, it's like a tall thin vertical waterfall). I heard somewhere that she badly injured herself one time rehearsing that scene when she jumped from that platform. And they had to stall film production while she recovered. Esther's father was the maestro of the orchestra playing during her water shows. One night, there's a tragedy with her father during one of her shows just while she was getting in the clam. Another time, a tragedy happened with Esther while in a water tank and the glass of the tank cracked and broke. Thank God, she recovered. There's also a subplot in this film of a friend of Esther's who's trying to fly his plane around the world, and there's also a part with a kangaroo. And the very best of all of Esther's water ballets is here. Starting with a lot of her crew and herself jumping from these high flying trapeze bars just swinging out of these pretty colorful clouds, some brilliant overhead patterns of Esther and the girls in the water, along with other terrific plays such as Esther and the girls wearing dazzling, sparkling crowns as they're slowly coming out of the water. This was a great film. There has never been anyone else quite like Esther Williams. She was amazing and wonderful. And like Mickey Rooney, she only left us a few years ago (both in 2013), both living into their 90s. There were sadly, the last of the wonderful surviving Golden age celebrities. Esther Williams and Judy Garland were both the most wonderful women ever to grace this earth. They were both angels. Judy, sadly hasn't been with us since 1969, and Esther, now sadly has left us too. Dear God, please take the best care of these two wonderful angels in heaven. Someday when it is my time for God to take me, perhaps I will see both Judy and Esther up there.