Here I am again, to talk about the second Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire team-up, the 1946 musical Blue Skies, which also stars Joan Caulfield.
Fred Astaire plays Jed Potter, a dancer as part of a group that includes Mary O’Hara (Joan Caulfield). He tries to get her join a new show in New York instead of going on the road with the one they were doing. She refuses, until he takes her out to a nightclub owned by his friend Johnny Adams (Bing Crosby), with whom she immediately falls in love. While he likes her, he doesn’t quite share her interest in marriage, as he has a habit of buying and selling his nightclubs. After a while, they do get married, with him “promising” to stop buying/selling new nightclubs, although it doesn’t stop, even after they have a child. Meanwhile, Jed loves her from afar, although she never fully returns his affection.
This is the fifth of six movies that Fred Astaire did with composer Irving Berlin, and the second of three (that I know of) that Bing Crosby did with the composer. The music in this movie is a combination of old music, some new, and some songs given updated lyrics. There are two songs that I feel like discussing here.
“Putting on the Ritz” is the big highlight of the movie. It’s sung (and danced) by Fred Astaire. Originally written back in the early thirties, the song was given some updated lyrics specifically for this movie. At the time this movie was made, Fred had announced he was going to retire after this movie (but ended up coming back a few years later for Easter Parade), so this song was intended to be his final dance (well, it was the last one filmed). He did some tricks with his cane, mainly with it flying up into his hand from the floor. The big point, however, is the chorus at the end of the dance: they are ALL Fred! In this, we get to see just how exacting he was in his movements, since for the one section of the dance he did it THREE times (with different choreography)!
Another song worth mentioning is the song “Heat Wave.” Fred Astaire dances to this song with Olga San Juan. Now, what is worth mentioning here, is that Fred Astaire was himself a composer. While the majority of this song is Irving Berlin’s, apparently Fred did contribute some additional music to it. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only instance in Fred’s movies in which any of his music was used! Either way, it is a fun song, and worth seeing Fred’s feet still moving with great speed!
As far as what I think of this movie? I enjoy it very much! I admit, I don’t really think very highly of the plot, or the leading lady, but it is worth it just for Bing and Fred alone, especially with the song “Couple of Song and Dance Men!” So if you get a chance to see it, please do!
The movie is available on DVD from Universal as either a single release, a double-feature, or as part of the Bing Crosby Silver Screen Collection. The movie is one hour, forty-three minutes in length.
My Rating: 10/10