Duchess of Idaho

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Duchess of Idaho
Duchess of idaho-poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Z. Leonard
Produced by Joe Pasternak
Written by Dorothy Cooper
Jerry Davis
Sid Fields
Starring Van Johnson
Esther Williams
Music by Albert Sendrey
George Stoll
Cinematography Charles Edgar Schoenbaum
Edited by Adrienne Fazan
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • July 14, 1950 (1950-07-14)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,705,000[1]
Box office $4,236,000[1]

Duchess of Idaho is a musical romantic comedy produced in 1950 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Directed by Robert Z. Leonard, it was the fourth film pairing Esther Williams and Van Johnson. It was filmed at the MGM Studios lot and exteriors shot in Sun Valley, Idaho.[2]


Christine Riverton Duncan (Esther Williams) attempts to play matchmaker for her lovelorn friend Ellen (Paula Raymond) by pursuing Douglas J. Morrissen, Jr. (John Lund), the man Ellen loves, all the way to Idaho. There, Christine decides to play a joke on Douglas. After boarding his train to Sun Valley, Christine wins the man's affections and then shocks him with hints that she expects a commitment. Once she's in Sun Valley, however, things become problematic when Christine falls in love with hotel bandleader Dick Layne (Van Johnson). During her time in Sun Valley, Christine wins the title of "Duchess of Idaho" in a dance contest.



In her autobiography, Million Dollar Mermaid, Williams called this a "re-hash of the Esther Williams formula: the mismatched lovers plot. It was enough to give one a case of cinematic deja vu."[4]

This marked Eleanor Powell's first film appearance in six years as well as her last film appearance. Williams reported that Powell had practiced her cameo's routine until her feet bled, claiming that it had to be perfect.[4]

Lena Horne's contract with MGM also ended with this film, though she would make several more MGM musical appearances later in the decade.


  • Let's Choo Choo Choo to Idaho; Written by Al Rinker and Floyd Huddleston; Sung by Van Johnson, Connie Haines and The Jubilaires
  • You Can't Do Wrong Doin' Right; Written by Al Rinker and Floyd Huddleston; Sung by Van Johnson and Connie Haines
  • Of All Things; Written by Al Rinker and Floyd Huddleston; Sung by Connie Haines
  • Baby Come Out of the Clouds; Written by Henry Nemo and Lee Pearl; Sung by Lena Horne

Deleted performances[edit]

Several musical numbers filmed for the movie were cut from the theatrical release. The deleted songs were:

These performances would later surface on a special DVD packaged in a 2004 box set of the That's Entertainment! films.

Box Office[edit]

According to MGM records the film earned $2,851,000 domestically and $1,385,000 foreign, making the studio a profit of $921,000.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Cue magazine found the film to be "a big, beautiful bore. The comedy is rapid and the pace is sleepy."[2]


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ a b Davis, Ronald L. (2001). Van Johnson: MGM's Golden Boy (1st ed.). ISBN 978-1-57806-377-2. Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  3. ^ Hanson, Patricia King; Dunkleberger, Amy, eds. (1971). "Duchess of Idaho". The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1941–1950. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 657. ISBN 0-520-21521-4. OCLC 468239657. 
  4. ^ a b Williams, Esther (1999). The Million Dollar Mermaid: An Autobiography (1st ed.). ISBN 978-0-15-601135-8. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 

External links[edit]