It's a cool woman indeed who keeps her poise when her husband brings a mermaid home. Googie Withers manages to carry it off when her husband carries home the beautiful Glynis Johns in 1948's Miranda
, a charming comedy that uses a mermaid as a metaphor for the foolish roving eyes of new and soon to be husbands.
A doctor named Paul (Griffith Jones) goes to Cornwall on vacation without his wife, Clare (Withers), and is promptly captured by a mermaid named Miranda (Johns).
She plans on holding him captive in her underwater cave forever until she's taken by the idea of spending some time among humans disguised as a woman paralysed below the waist, one of Paul's patients. She's worried she'll suffer the same fate as her aunt Augusta, who was pickled and exhibited in a sideshow, so she compels Paul to keep her identity a secret from everyone, including his wife.
But when Paul brings a beautiful young woman into the home, who seems delighted to be carried around by men whom she doesn't hesitate to call "beautiful" and shower with other compliments, Clare seems more bemused than angry and she chats knowingly with her best friend, Isobel (Sonia Holm), about Paul's likely ulterior motives.
But Isobel and the servant, Betty (Yvonne Owen), are less amused when both their fiancés--an artist named Nigel (John McCallum) and a butler named Charles (David Tomlinson)--become infatuated with her.
Tomlinson's character might have been comforted to know he and Johns would play husband and wife sixteen years later in Mary Poppins
The only woman who really likes Miranda is the only woman who knows she's a mermaid--the nurse Paul brings in to care for her played by Margaret Rutherford.
Paul had described Nurse Carey as an eccentric and had apparently decided not to employ her anymore but somehow thinks she's perfect for this job--explained when, upon seeing Miranda naked in the bath, Carey exclaims happily that she's always believed in mermaids.
1948 was a good year for mermaid movies--Miranda
was released in Britain the same year Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid
was released in the U.S. While Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid
is a gentle forerunner of Lolita
, lampooning how ridiculous the reality can be when a much older man tries to live out his fantasies with a real young woman, Miranda
is more about anthropomorphising those fantasies. Miranda is truly not human, her selfless ease with being a companion to all men, her constant even temper, and her complete inability to fulfil anyone's sexual needs make her very much like a breathing pin-up poster or, to put it in grander terms, like a muse. Indeed, given how much delight Nurse Carey takes in her the latter term might be more appropriate. But just like a pin-up, as much as she freely gives to men she's not troubled at all by her inability to fulfil their ultimate desires. And just like a pin-up, the men look extremely foolish when they want to leave their girlfriends and wives for her.