On an Island with You

On an Island with You is a 1948 musical Technicolor romantic comedy film directed by Richard Thorpe.[3] It stars Esther Williams, Peter Lawford, Ricardo Montalbán, Cyd Charisse, Kathryn Beaumont and Jimmy Durante.[Note 1][4]

On an Island with You
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Thorpe
Produced byJoe Pasternak
Written by
  • Charles Martin
  • Hans Wilhelm
Screenplay by
Music by
CinematographyCharles Rosher
Edited by
Distributed byLoew's Inc.
Release date
  • May 3, 1948 (1948-05-03)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$5,282,000[1]


Rosalind Reynolds (Esther Williams), a swimming star goes to Hawaii to make a film set on a tropical island, bringing along her fiancé, Ricardo Montez (Ricardo Montalbán). A military technical adviser for the film, U.S. Navy Lt. Lawrence Y. Kingslee (Peter Lawford) falls in love with her. Yvonne Torro (Cyd Charisse), her best friend and fellow movie star, secretly wants Ricardo for herself.

Larry, who had met her three years before on a USO show at his Pacific base, makes it obvious that he is smitten with Rosalind, and after kissing her on the set, showing up Ricardo, plans to spirit her away on his aircraft. Later, at the Royal Aloha hotel, the film cast and crew are entertained by real-life orchestra leader Xavier Cugat and his orchestra. The next day, taking advantage of a scene where Rosalind flies over the set, Larry flies to the actual island where he first met her. After asking for a kiss, he knows that Rosalind is attracted to him. Returning to their aircraft, the two discover that the natives have stolen parts, effectively stranding them on the island.

Meanwhile, her fiancé and the search party he formed are captured by the cannibals who inhabit the tropical isle, but are saved by his rival. After everyone leaves the island, complications begin. With Larry facing a court-martial, Rosalind tries to help him by accepting blame for the unauthorized flight to the island. Eventually, they learn that Yvonne has become romantically involved with Ricardo, while Larry and Rosalind also realize they are in love.


As appearing in On an Island with You, (main roles and screen credits identified):[5]


Music by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Edward Heyman, except where noted:

  • "On an Island With You"
  • "The Dog Song"
  • "I Know Darn Well I Can Do Without Broadway" (music and lyrics by Jimmy Durante)
  • "Takin' Miss Mary to the Ball"
  • "I'll Do the Strut-Away (in my Cutaway)" (music and lyrics by Durante, Harry Donnelly, Irving Caesar)
  • "You Gotta Start Off Each Day With a Song" (Durante)


Principal photography took place on MGM lots and on location around Anna Maria Island, Florida from June 1 to early September 1947.[6] Williams disliked her director, and blamed him for an accident on set. During a scene she was supposed to walk along the jungle floor and fall into a hole camouflaged by vegetation, but there was no cushioning at the bottom to break her fall, and she did fall straight down to a hard landing, causing a sprained ankle. Williams thereafter, with the sprained ankle, had to finish the film on crutches.[7]

A similar fate befell Cyd Charisse who had completed the bulk of her work, including two dance duets with Ricardo Montalban, then tore ligaments in her knee during filming of the big ceremonial dance on the island. She ended up in a cast for two months and a substitute dancer finished her dance scenes, photographed from long distance.[4]

The aircraft that were used in the film included a U.S. Navy Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber that played a pivotal role in the plot, and a Grumman JRF-5 Goose flying boat.


Like all of Esther Williams' other films, On an Island with You was a moneymaker and did well at the box office as one of the most popular films of 1948. It earned $3,191,000 in the US and Canada and $2,091,000 overseas resulting in a profit to MGM of $816,000.[1][8]

Critics, however, recognized both the merits and shortcomings of the Williams format. The review in The New York Times indicated, "The shortcomings of 'On An Island' merit no serious invective, but to make the record complete, it should be observed that Richard Thorpe, the director, never helped the film to rise above its basic material."[9]

Radio adaptation

On an Island with You was presented on Musical Comedy Theater March 19, 1952. The one-hour adaptation starred Edward Everett Horton, Polly Bergen, and Earl Wrightson.[10]



  1. Van Johnson had originally been announced as the lead before Lawford was assigned to the film.[4]


  1. "The Eddie Mannix Ledger." Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study (Los Angeles).
  2. Another source puts the cost at $1.5 million ("109-Million Investment by H'Wood in Current Technicolor Features", Variety, February 18, 1948, p. 7).
  3. Eames 1982, p. 211.
  4. Miller, Frank. "Articles: On an Island with You." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: June 30, 2013.
  5. "Credits: On an Island with You (1948)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: June 30, 2013.
  6. "Original Print Information: On an Island with You." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: June 30, 2013.
  7. Williams and Diehl 1999, p. 196.
  8. "Top Grossers of 1948", Variety 5 January 1949 p 46
  9. T.F.B."On an Island with You (1948); The screen; Esther Williams and Peter Lawford head cast of 'On an Island With You,' at Capitol." The New York Times, July 30, 1948.
  10. Kirby, Walter. "Better Radio Programs for the Week." The Decatur Daily Review, March 16, 1952, p. 44 via Newspapers.com. Retrieved: May 23, 2015.


  • Eames, John Douglas. The MGM Story: The Complete History of Fifty Roaring Years. London: Octopus Books Limited, 1982, First edition 1979. ISBN 978-0-51752-389-6.
  • Williams, Esther with Digby Diehl. The Million Dollar Mermaid: An Autobiography. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. ISBN 978-0-15601-135-8.
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