Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past! On Sundays, I will be reviewing the made-for-television movies that used to be a primetime mainstay. Today’s film is 1989’s Swimsuit. It can be viewed on Tubi!
Mrs. Allison (Cyd Charisse, in what is basically an extended cameo) is determined to make Saltare Swimsuit Company the most popular swimsuit brand in the world. And, as we all know, the key to popularity is picking the right models. She assigns her second-in-command, Brian Rutledge (William Katt, giving off a pure Malibu vibe), to find the most beautiful women and men on the beach. Joining Brian on this mission is his goofy assistant, Willard Thurm (Tom Villard).
Brian and Willard quickly manage to gather a group of potential models, all of whom will now compete for the chance to represent Saltare. Among the hopefuls:
Maria (Nia Peeples) is hoping that she will not only become the body of Saltare but that she’ll also be able to launch an acting career. Complicating matters is that she used to be married to Brian and he tends to get upset whenever an audition causes her to be late to a photoshoot.
Jade (Catherine Oxenberg) wants to be famous and rich and she’s already living a wealthy lifestyle. Everything about Jade suggests that she’s probably doing massive amounts of cocaine but, since this is a made-for-TV movie, we don’t get to see any of that. Instead, she ends up having a very unlikely romance with Willard.
Romella (Ally Walker) is Hungarian and speaks mangled English, which this film plays for cringey laughs. She befriends a male model named Scott (Paul Johansson) and schemes to make money.
Finally, Rosy (Cheryl Pollak) is an innocent and naïve waitress who, like all good Americans, has always dreamed of being a model. As she competes, she finds herself torn between two potential suitors. Chris Cutty (Billy Warlock, showing off the blue collar beach style that landed him the role of the troubled lifeguard on Baywatch) is working class but honest and he has big plans of opening up his own business. Hart Chadway (Jack Wagner) is slick and wealthy and older. Gee, I wonder who Rosy will end up with?
You know all the horror stories that you hear about the modeling industry? The sexual harassment? The eating disorders? The constant pressure to be perfect? The drug addiction and the depression and the stalkers and the cancel crowd watching your every move? Well, absolutely none of that is present in Swimsuit, which basically portrays modeling as perhaps the most earnest and wholesome industry to be found in the United States. Mrs, Allison wants the best for all of her models and Brian and Willard are complete gentlemen. You’ll be able to guess, from the minute she first appears onscreen, who is ultimately going to be the winner of the model search but, in the end, everyone gets something to be happy about. This is a film without any real conflict, beyond Rosy trying to decide whether to date a working class hunk or a slightly more wealthy hunk.
You may have guessed that there’s not a huge amount of depth to Swimsuit. It’s a movie about good looking people posing in swimsuits. It’s the type of film that you can play in the background while you do other things. Whenever someone starts singing a song on the soundtrack or you hear the sound of waves hitting the beach, you know that it’s time to look at the screen. No one in the film makes a huge impression, though Cyd Charisse is properly eloquent as Mrs. Allison and William Katt is likable as Brian. Tom Villard and Catherine Oxenberg make for an unexpectedly cute couple, which just goes to show that it’s never a bad idea to temper beauty with goofiness and vice versa. Otherwise, this is an inoffensive but slightly forgettable fantasy of what it’s like to be a model.
I will have to check this out
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