Very nice comedy that doesn’t rely on slapstick to tell the story of a man having a midlife crisis. He goes fishing and hooks a mermaid. 1984’s “Splash” is not a remake.
Polly Peabody (Irene Hervey) takes her husband Arthur (William Powell) to see a psychiatrist. She tells him her husband is in love with a mermaid. Arthur tells his story. It all started when he decided to leave a snowy Boston for a Caribbean vacation villa.
Arthur is depressed that he’s a week away from turning fifty. While wandering around he hears a vocalise coming across the water. He sails out to a barren key and finds a woman’s comb. That night he goes to a beach party and meets the resort’s PR man Mike Fitzgerald (Clinton Sundberg). While Polly is flirting with Englishman Major Hadley, Mike introduces Arthur to singer Cathy Livingston. Arthur hears her sing and knows that’s not the voice he heard. Polly gets jealous about Cathy’s behavior.
The next day Arthur goes fishing and after a struggle brings his catch on board. All he can see is a tail. Then he takes a look. It’s a mermaid (Ann Blyth). He takes her home and puts her in the bathtub. Polly comes home and wants to take a bath. All she sees is a tail and tells Arthur to get the fish out of there.
Arthur can’t bring himself to take her back to the ocean. He teaches her how to kiss, names her Lenore and drops her into the villa’s pond. There’s a sign advising not to feed or annoy the fish. Lenore moves into the underwater castle in the pond. It’s love at first human and for him it’s love at first fish.
Polly doesn’t like the attention Cathy pays to him and tells him to break it off. She doesn’t believe there’s nothing going on. Cathy comes over and takes her dress off and jumps into the pond. A jealous Lenore grabs her and bites her and then steals the dress from the side of the pond.
Cathy leaves and Polly braces him again about her. She’s concerned about how he was looking at the bite on Cathy’s leg. A bit later he’s sitting pond side with his arm around Lenore. She’s wearing Cathy’s dress. Polly spots him. Next thing Arthur knows Polly is leaving. She gets in the car and drives off.
Arthur is starting to like the fact that she’s gone and he can pay more attention to Lenore. A week later the car is found abandoned. Major Hadley starts to think Arthur murdered Polly.
There’s more flashback to come before returning to the psychiatrist’s office. It’s fun and also poignant and completely successful.