(It’s not what you think it is!
Image from “Neptune’s Daughter” (Yes, it really is a young “Mr. Roark.”)
“Baby, it’s Cold Outside” is an evergreen seasonal favorite, and deservedly so. It’s a standard on holidays albums, and every great, and not-so-great, singer has recorded it. Sometime during the “Me Too” movement, though, it has been put on Santa’s “Naughty List.” Social critics have decried it, radio stations have banned it from playlists, and friendships have fizzled between its insistent defenders and its indignant detractors.
We need to rescue this song and return it to the panoply of popular holiday standards, where it belongs.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’RE THINKING. I’LL GET THERE.
Frank Loesser, who wrote the music for Guys and Dolls, created “Baby” as a “good night” song he and his wife performed at their parties to signal to guests that it was time to go. It was more subtle, and more humorous, than pretending to yawn, and they got invited to lots more parties. Loesser borrowed the tune from his private life and used it for a comic scene in the 1949 film, “Neptune’s Daughter.” It won the Academy Award for best song, and it is remembered far better than the film.
“Neptune’s Daughter” is an Esther Williams swimming vehicle with Technicolor shots of Williams and the traditional bevy of bathing beauties performing water ballet and modeling sleek beachwear. I know. I know. The more I say about it, the more offensive it seems.
Here’s what you’re saying. How could anyone possibly defend this song?
The lyrics are suggestive and hint at sexual coercion. It pits Latin lover, Ricardo Montalban, in his seductive bachelor pad, against Esther Williams, who is, purportedly, trying to leave.
I want you to see it for yourself and make up your own mind.
The song is not about a cat-and-mouse game. It’s not “The Perils of Pauline.” The pair is playing a cat-and-cat game, or even a tiger-and-tiger game…