Fred Astaire: “Couldn’t I be the fellow who never gets his name mentioned? The one they call a friend? You know, uh, Ginger Rogers and friend?”
–The Sky’s the Limit
Here we are again for another Fred Astaire musical, the 1943 movie The Sky’s The Limit, also starring Joan Leslie and Robert Benchley.
In this movie set during the second World War, Fred Astaire plays Fred Atwell, a Flying Tiger on leave for ten days. Finding himself stuck going on a personal tour due to the success of his squadron, he decides to leave and have some fun instead. Going incognito as Fred Burton, he comes to New York, where he meets Joan Manion (Joan Leslie), a photographer for Eyeful Magazine, who wants to do more than just fluff photos of celebrities at the clubs. He follows her around, and tries to ask her out on a date. At first, she resists him, but she slowly warms up to him. While out working at the canteen for servicemen, Fred runs into some of his squadron, whom he tries to convince not to tell who he is. Running into them reminds him his leave is nearly over, and of what he has to return to, so Fred decides to try helping Joan’s boss, who also has feelings for Joan.
Admittedly, this movie barely qualifies as a musical, with only three new songs from the songwriting team of Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. These songs include My Shining Hour, A Lot In Common With You, and One For My Baby (And One More For The Road). My Shining Hour is first sung in a nightclub, and later used as background music for a romantic duet between Fred and Joan. A Lot In Common With You is a performance from Fred and Joan at the serviceman’s canteen, where she works sometimes. One For My Baby, however, is the highlight of the movie. It’s Fred’s tap solo, and it is considered one of his best solo routines. It’s done in a bar, as he is smarting over the loss of Joan, and ends up smashing up a lot of drinking glasses and the bar’s mirror, before paying the bar owner and leaving.
The movie itself was intended as a bit of a departure for Fred. Up to this point, critics complained that he was more or less playing the same type of character, and he attempted to change that. Obviously, he is a bit of a stalker for the first part of the movie, which may bother some of the ladies, but I’d like to think he makes up for it in the second half, when he is reminded of the war he has to go back to, and tries to help her boss out. This is a wonderful movie, and one I do recommend if you have the chance to see it!
The movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection, and is about one hour, thirty minutes in length.
My Rating: 10/10