Pop Culture

Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948)

Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid film poster (1948)

     Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid is an American fantasy film that was released in August of 1948. The classic film was directed by Irving Pichel and starred William Powell as Mr. Peabody and Ann Blyth as the Mermaid/Lenore. The film is based on the 1945 novel Peabody’s Mermaid written by Guy Jones and Constance Jones. 

      The film opens with Polly Peabody (Irene Hervey) telling a skeptical Dr. Harvey (Art Smith) that her husband, Arthur Peabody (William Powell) has fallen in love with the mermaid that he caught, while on vacation in the Caribbean. Arthur has a private consultation with Dr. Harvey and tells him what happened…

Film Still from Mr.Peabody and the Mermaid (1948)

     Polly and Arthur leave Boston and go on a tropical vacation to the Caribbean. Polly reminds Arthur that he will be celebrating his 50th birthday in a week and he doesn’t take it so well. Arthur gets depressed about being reminded of his age, so he wanders the resort and hears singing from a distance. He later takes out a boat and travels to a deserted key. There he climbs rocks and discovers a woman’s comb. Later that evening, Arthur meets Mike Fitzgerald, who works as a press secretary for the resort. Mike introduces Arthur to singer, Cathy Livingston and Arthur is intrigued to know if she is the one who he had heard singing earlier. As Cathy sings for Arthur flirtatiously,  it ignites Polly’s jealousy. 

     The next day, Arthur goes on a fishing excursion by himself and to his surprise, catches a beautiful mermaid. He takes the mermaid to his hotel room and places her in the bathtub filled with water. When Polly returns from a shopping trip, she smells her perfume in the bathroom and confronts Arthur about it. Arthur exclaims that he caught a mermaid and Polly scoffs at his story and tells him to get rid of the “fish” in the bathtub. 

    Arthur, unfortunately can’t return the mermaid back to the sea. He names the mermaid, Lenore and teaches the mute mermaid how to kiss. He accidentally releases Lenore into the resort’s large fishpond. 

Film Still from Mr.Peabody and the Mermaid (1948)

     The following day, Arthur goes to a boutique located in the hotel and purchases bikini tops for Lenore, so she’d be more modest. Later that day, Polly begs Arthur to stop seeing Cathy and in exchange, she’ll stop talking to her friend Major Ronald Hadley. Lenore sings her hypnotizing song and Arthur goes to the pool to be with her. Polly watches from a distance as Arthur and Lenore embrace. She becomes so angry, that she packs her belongings and leaves the resort without Arthur. 

     A week goes by and Polly’s car is found on the side on the road near the beach. Immediately, Arthur is accused of murdering his wife. Arthur denies any involvement in his wife’s disappearance. Mike tells Arthur that there were articles recently printed of him being seen with a mermaid. Arthur admits that the rumors are in fact true, and that he loves the mermaid, Lenore. Mike reports the story to Hadley and Mandrake and the police are notified immediately. A worried Arthur, takes Lenore back to the key and proclaims that he wants to run away with her.  Moments later, Arthur is ordered to board the boat by the police and that Polly safely returned home to Boston and is with their child. Lenore begins to sing her siren song to all the men. Arthur immediately jumps into the water to be Lenore and shares a passionate underwater embrace with the hypnotizing mermaid. Arthur almost drowns to death. 

     Back in Boston, Dr. Harvey advises Arthur, not to tell his mermaid tale to anyone. When Arthur returns home to Polly, he gives the comb that he discovered at the key, proving Lenore existence.