Jupiter's Darling

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Jupiter's Darling
Film poster
Directed byGeorge Sidney
Produced byGeorge Wells
Screenplay byDorothy Kingsley
Based onRoad to Rome
1928 play
by Robert E. Sherwood
StarringEsther Williams
Howard Keel
Marge Champion
Gower Champion
George Sanders
Richard Haydn
Music byDavid Rose
CinematographyCharles Rosher
Paul Vogel
Edited byRalph E. Winters
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • February 18, 1955 (1955-02-18)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,520,000[1]

Jupiter's Darling is a 1955 American Technicolor musical romance film released by MGM and directed by George Sidney filmed in CinemaScope. It starred Esther Williams as the Roman woman Amytis, Howard Keel as Hannibal, the Carthaginian military commander and George Sanders as Fabius Maximus, Amytis's fiancé. In the film, Amytis helps Hannibal swim the Tiber River to take a closer look at Rome's fortifications.

The film features many historical characters, including Roman generals Fabius Maximus and Scipio Africanus who appears briefly, in addition to Hannibal. Carthaginians Mago Barca and Maharbal also appear.

Jupiter's Darling was based on Robert E. Sherwood's anti-war comedy play The Road to Rome (1927).[2]

The film was the last of three films Williams and Keel made together, the other two being Pagan Love Song (1950) and Texas Carnival (1951).



Esther Williams as Amytis in one of the film's underwater sequences

Williams had been on maternity leave for three months while pregnant with daughter Susan, and had assumed that she would get straight to work on the film Athena. She, along with writers Leo Pogostin and Chuck Walters created the premise for Athena while making Easy to Love, and Walters finished the script while Williams was on maternity leave. However, Athena had already begun shooting when Williams arrived back from leave, and the studio had changed the swimming sequences to dancing sequences and replaced Williams with Jane Powell. Williams was then assigned Jupiter's Darling.[3] Jo Ann Greer, who sang for Williams, also dubbed June Allyson in MGM's The Opposite Sex and Rita Hayworth in three films, including Pal Joey.

During shooting, Williams broke her left eardrum, which had already been broken in five other films. She was fitted with a prosthesis from latex that covered her nose and ears that prevented water from rushing in. As a result, she could barely hear, taste or smell while wearing it,[4] and her diving had to be limited. Stunt woman Ginger Stanley was Williams' body double in some of the underwater scenes.[5]

In one of the film's scenes, Amytis, while fleeing from Hannibal and his soldiers, rides a horse over the edges of a cliff on the Tiber River. Williams refused to do the scene, and when the studio refused to cut it, the director called in a platform diver that Williams knew, Al Lewin. The stunt took place one time; the studio got its shot, and Lewin broke his back.[6]


The film's world premiere was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[7] The cast, including a 350-pound baby elephant named Jupiter's Darling, embarked on a tour of nine U.S. cities.[8]

Box office reception was poor - according to MGM records it made $1,493,000 in the US and Canada and $1,027,000 elsewhere resulting in a loss of $2,232,000.[1][9]

Critical reception[edit]

A 1955 New York Times review of the film claimed that "Esther Williams must be getting bored with water. She goes swimming only three times in M-G-M's "Jupiter's Darling," which came yesterday to the Music Hall, and two of these times are forced upon her. She dunks only once for fun. And that, we might note, is the most attractive and buoyant thing in the film. It comes when Miss Williams, cast rashly as the fiancée of Emperor Fabius Maximus of Rome, peels off her stola and tunic after a long hot day in town and goes swimming in the pool of her villa, which is fancier than any pool in Hollywood." It also stated that "Miss Williams had better get back in that water and start blowing bubbles again."[2]


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. ^ a b New York Times review
  3. ^ Williams, pp. 257.
  4. ^ Williams, p. 260.
  5. ^ Hollis, Tim (2006). Glass Bottom Boats & Mermaid Tails: Florida's Tourist Springs. Stackpole Books. p. 21. ISBN 9780811732666. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  6. ^ Williams, p. 261.
  7. ^ TCM listing for Jupiter's Darling
  8. ^ Williams, p. 160.
  9. ^ Scott Eyman, Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, Robson, 2005 p 464

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]