Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… The Band Wagon (1953)

If you’re not going your way by yourself, then let’s all get on The Band Wagon, the classic 1953 musical starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse!

Washed-up movie actor Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire) decides to leave Hollywood and go to New York City to do a Broadway show written by his friends Lester (Oscar Levant) and Lily (Nanette Fabray) Marton. Lester and Lily have convinced actor/ director Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan) to do their show, and he quickly signs ballet dancer Gabrielle Gerard (Cyd Charisse) as the leading lady, along with her boyfriend/ manager Paul Byrd (James Mitchell) as the show’s choreographer. However, Tony and Gabrielle don’t hit it off well at first, and Jeff quickly gets out of control making the show quite different than what Lester and Lily had written. When the show opens out-of-town, they find just how badly out-of-control Jeff had gotten, and they all regroup to figure out how to salvage the show.

Similar to the previous year’s classic musical Singin’ In The Rain, The Band Wagon is a celebration of the music of composers Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz. The movie shared the title of the final Broadway show that Fred Astaire did with his sister Adele, but the movie was far different, being given a plot, instead of being a musical revue. Only a few songs from the show were retained for this movie: “I Love Luisa,” “Dancing In The Dark” and “New Sun in The Sky.” All the other songs were pulled from other stuff that Dietz And Schwartz did (with the exception of the song “That’s Entertainment,” which was written for this movie). However you look at it, the movie has a lot of wonderful music and dancing, including the song “Shine On My Shoes,” which featured Fred working with a real dancing shoeshine man, Leroy Daniels, and many others (I plan on commenting on some of the others in another post).

As much as I enjoy Fred Astaire’s films, this is one that took multiple viewings before I appreciated it. But I do believe it to be a wonderful movie, with a lot of songs and dances that certainly grow on you over time. For some, it is considered to be as great as Singin’ In The Rain. Personally, I think it’s better! I will agree most heartily with the iconic status of both the “Dancing In The Dark” and “Girl Hunt Ballet” dance routines, as they both leave me wanting to get up and dance myself (although that last part is just as true for a lot of the other music, too)! Yeah, the film’s ending is a little off, but, honestly, I’m not bothered by it that badly, and I would EASILY recommend this movie to anybody interested!

This movie is available individually on Blu-ray and DVD and on Blu-ray as part of the four film Musicals Collection from Warner Home Video and is one hour, fifty-two minutes in length.

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… Swing Time (1936)

If you’re looking for “a fine romance,” then look no further than the classic Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie Swing Time!

Dancer John “Lucky” Garnett (Fred Astaire) returns to his hometown to marry his fiancee, Margaret Watson (Betty Furness), but the other dancers in the act prevent him from getting to the wedding on time. However, Lucky is able to convince Margaret and her father to try again if he can make $25,000. Lucky goes to New York with his buddy, Pop (Victor Moore), where he meets dance teacher Penny Carrol (Ginger Rogers). While trying to get acquainted in a dance lesson, he accidentally gets her fired, so he tries to get her job back for her. In doing so, he not only gets her job back, he manages to get her an even better offer performing with him at the Silver Sandal nightclub. However, their employment is delayed when nightclub owner Mr. Simpson (Pierre Watkin) loses the contract of his orchestra and its leader, Ricardo Romero (Georges Metaxa), gambling with Dice Raymond (John Harrington), the owner of another nightclub. Lucky manages to win back the orchestra when he goes to Raymond’s club to gamble. Meanwhile, Lucky is falling in love with Penny and is trying not to make $25,000 so he doesn’t have to go back and marry Margaret.

Well, as you can see, the plot doesn’t make a huge amount of sense. But, it’s an Astaire/Rogers movie, and you’re not here for the plot! To be fair, though, I’m not sure how much of the plot’s issues relate to how much society has changed in the time since this movie was made. As I said, though, with an Astaire/Rogers film, you’re generally enjoying the music and the dancing! And what a score, with music provided by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, including such songs as “Pick Yourself Up,” “The Waltz In Swing Time,” “A Fine Romance,” “Bojangles Of Harlem,” “Never Gonna Dance” and the Oscar-winning classic, “The Way You Look Tonight.”

Of course, the three dance duets (“Pick Yourself Up,” “The Waltz In Swing Time” and “Never Gonna Dance”) are the big highlights of the movie! “Pick Yourself Up” starts us off well, with a fun song where Ginger is trying to “teach” Fred how to dance (utilizing some dance steps that would make an appearance in all three routines), and, going into the dance routine, we see her impressed with his abilities that he had been hiding from her only a few moments before. “The Waltz In Swing Time” gives us more progression in their relationship, as we see a fun dance showing off how well they could combine ballroom and tap dancing together! But “Never Gonna Dance” is a masterpiece (well, to me, it is!) showing off their dramatic abilities as they split up, believing they will never dance again, with reprises of “The Way You Look Tonight” and “The Waltz In Swing Time” included as part of the music. Just an absolutely beautiful dance routine (and one that made my “Top 10 Dance Routines” list)!

To be fair, the movie’s not perfect. The main sour note for most would probably be the song and dance for “Bojangles Of Harlem.” Supposedly a “tribute” to African-American dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, it ends up coming off quite differently. Considering Bill Robinson was known for being one of the first African-American performers to NOT wear blackface, Fred’s use of it comes across poorly, never mind the fact that his style of dancing is nothing NEAR what Bill did. And it’s not a simple case of just skipping the song to get past the blackface, as Fred is still wearing it for a few minutes while the story keeps going. Personally, I still get some enjoyment out of the dancing (and the music is catchy, too), especially when Fred goes solo apart from the female chorus, and we get what is the first time he used special effects to enhance his dancing onscreen, as we see him dance off against his own shadows. I do think that the blackface was a mistake on Fred’s part, as I have otherwise gotten the impression that he did respect African-American performers, working with a few and having high praise for the Nicholas Brothers’ dance in the 1943 musical Stormy Weather. In spite of this moment, though, I still would EASILY recommend this movie, as it is just so much fun to watch!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection. With regard to the new, restored transfer, I would say it looks great to me. Sure, it’s not as crisp and clear as some would like, but, considering the original camera negative, which would have yielded the best results, is long gone (and apparently was in bad shape when Criterion licensed the movie for their laserdisc release nearly thirty years ago), this is probably as good as we can hope for. I like it, and I certainly see a lot of improvement over the Warner DVD released about a decade ago, so this recent release comes highly recommended by me (and I personally would, at this point, already be willing to call it the release of the year)! The movie is one hour, forty-four minutes in length.

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

Screen Team VS: Bing & Fred vs. Frank & Gene

In 1941, a chance meeting between director Mark Sandrich and composer Irving Berlin resulted in them planning on a musical inspired by various holidays. It was planned as a vehicle for Bing Crosby, and they also decided that it would be right up Fred Astaire’s alley, too. And so we had those two friends paired together for the classic 1942 Paramount movie Holiday Inn. A few years later, MGM responded with their own song-and-dance team of Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh. While I haven’t seen anything that makes them out to be rival teams, considering the individual members were indeed rivals, one can’t help but want to compare them. While I certainly have my preference as to which I enjoy watching more (and so, like on the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway, the points don’t matter), I still feel like talking about the two teams, mainly sticking to the movies they made together.

Holiday Inn (1942) (no review from me yet, but I’ll post the link here when I do it) – My Rating: 8/10

Blue Skies (1946) – My Rating: 10/10

Anchors Aweigh (1945) – My Rating: 5/10

Take Me Out To The Ball Game (1949) – My Rating: 9/10

On The Town (1949) – My Rating: 8/10

Screen Team Edition: Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire

Screen Team Edition: Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly

So let’s start with some of the more obvious differences. Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire made two movies together, while Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly made three. Between their two films, Bing and Fred have two songs that they work together directly and two more that they are both involved together (just not as much). Frank and Gene can claim about twelve songs that they work together in pretty solidly through their three movies. Irving Berlin provides all the music for Bing and Fred, while Frank and Gene are served by the likes of Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn, Roger Edens, Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Leonard Bernstein.

To get a little deeper into the elements of that differentiate the two, I would say at least two come to mind: how their friendships are portrayed on screen, and how their offscreen careers may have affected the films. On screen, Bing and Fred were similar to Bing and Bob. They were both romantic rivals, and they had no troubles double-crossing each other when it came to romance in Holiday Inn. While Blue Skies started out with a similar relationship, partway through, Fred’s character started to soften, and care enough for the film’s leading lady that he wasn’t as willing to come between them. Meanwhile, Frank and Gene portrayed their characters as good buddies. Admittedly, Gene mainly tried to help Frank to get him off his back in his own attempts at romance, but he still felt like he was betraying a good friend when he fell for the same girl that Frank first fell for. Admittedly, some of that might be different just purely from occupations, as Bing and Fred portrayed characters in show business, and in two of their three movies, Frank and Gene were sailors who no doubt had gone through a lot together.

I also believe their movie careers affected these movies. When Bing and Fred were teamed up, they had both been in the movies for nearly a decade, and were some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. When Frank and Gene were paired together, neither of them had been in the movies for very long (in fact, I get the impression Anchors Aweigh was Frank’s first starring role). Consequently, that affected the various situations. I get the impression from what I have read that both Bing and Frank weren’t big into rehearsing, while Fred and Gene were both perfectionists who put a lot of work into what they did. With Bing as a more established star, he apparently didn’t feel the need to rehearse as much (and I can only imagine that must have driven Fred nuts), thus his dancing comes off poorly. With Frank not as established, he had to put in more rehearsal time with Gene, and so we see them looking at least decent together (and who knows how much natural talent Frank might have had as a dancer compared to Bing). Of course, age might also come into play, too, and Frank and Gene were both in their late 20s/early thirties when first paired together, while Bing was in his late 30s and Fred already in his forties.

Personally, I can’t help but wish the four had made a movie together (and no, I’m not including the first That’s Entertainment movie that they all co-hosted, since they never actually share the screen at any time). Of course, I do know that they had some team up here and there. Rivals Bing and Frank worked together in High Society, Robin And The 7 Hoods, The Road To Hong Kong (Frank makes a cameo appearance), and several TV specials. Fred and Gene worked together for one song in Ziegfeld Follies and again as co-hosts of That’s Entertainment Part 2. Not to mention Bing and Gene making cameo appearances in the Marilyn Monroe movie Let’s Make Love (although they don’t appear together). I think both teams were truly wonderful to watch, but I will always pick Bing and Fred as the more fun team to watch together.

Holiday Inn

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

Blue Skies

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

Anchors Aweigh

My Rating: 5/10

Audience Rating:

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

On The Town

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

Winner: Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire (again, just my opinion)

Top 10 Dance Routines

Well, I seem to have made it to the 100 post mark for this blog, so I felt the need to celebrate! Considering I have always been quite fond of musicals, which originally inspired me to take up dancing, I feel like doing my top 10 dance routines from the movies! Now, I did set up a few limits. Mainly, I tried to limit the number of dance routines featuring any specific dancers to about one solo routine and one partnered routine per person (otherwise, I could easily list quite a few for some dancers with ease)! I should also mention, that it’s not just the dancing itself, but sometimes the music that influences my opinion as well. Again, this list is entirely my own opinion, and not necessarily even my favorite dance routines and/or songs, but those that just mesh well. They will be presented as song, dancer(s), movie.

1. “Puttin’ On The Ritz,” Fred Astaire, Blue Skies

Fred Astaire’s big tap solo that was originally intended to be his last, as he went into retirement after this movie (which, thankfully, was short-lived). This routine allowed Fred to show he still had some considerable skill, improved by using special effects, such as his cane flying into his hand from the ground. But most famously, we have Fred dancing with a background chorus that consisted entirely of him (long before the days of CGI), which demonstrates just how well-rehearsed and precise he could be with his movements!

2. “Never Gonna Dance,” Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Swing Time

While Fred Astaire partnered with a number of talented ladies over his career, few are better remembered than Ginger Rogers, who brought her talents as a dramatic actress to the table. It took a lot of thought to pick which one of their routines to add to this list, but I went with “Never Gonna Dance.” This wonderful dance showcases their dramatic abilities, coupled with superb dancing (not to mention beautiful music that also brings back “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Waltz In Swing Time”)!

3. “Singin’ In The Rain,” Gene Kelly, Singin’ In The Rain

Of course, no list of famous dances would be complete without this classic! You can’t help but smile when thinking of Gene Kelly’s iconic dance, joyful in what could otherwise be depressing weather! So grab an umbrella and start dancing (and singing!) in the rain!

4. “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” Marge and Gower Champion, Lovely To Look At

For me, this one just HAS to be on the list. The husband-and-wife dance team of Marge and Gower Champion wasn’t renowned for their acting ability, and neither made a huge mark in the movies, but this movie (and most particularly this routine) was one of their best. From their kiss at the beginning of the routine that sends them “up among the stars” to the end of the routine, we are treated to some wonderful dancing, some superb lifts and one of the most beautiful orchestrations of this (or any other song) that I’ve had the chance to enjoy!!

5. “Barn Dance,” group dance, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

Ok, so I’m simplifying things by calling it a group dance, but if I listed everybody, you’d spend too much time reading that list! But still, who can pass up the chance to watch the six brothers constantly one-up the men from town as they show off for the ladies! Between the music, the high-flying leaps and flips, this is always fun!

6. “Make ‘Em Laugh,” Donald O’Connor, Singin’ In The Rain

Yep, Donald O’Connor’s classic comedy dance is here, too! While the music might have borrowed heavily from the Cole Porter tune “Be A Clown,” Donald brought all of his abilities to hear, with pratfalls, and many different comedy bits (and some dancing as well)! Always fun to watch (and good for a laugh)!

7. “Ragamuffin Romeo,” Marion Stadler and Don Rose, King Of Jazz

As I’ve said before, a wonderful example of some old vaudeville style dancing! While neither of the two dancers here have any lasting fame, what they do is still impressive! She’s supposed to a doll made up of rags, and, with her flexibility, she acts and moves just like it! The lifts are just phenomenal, and I could easily watch this dance!

8. “Yankee Doodle Boy/ GiveMy Regards To Broadway,” James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy

While he was a song-and-dance man himself, James Cagney ended up being typecast as a gangster for a lot of his movies with Warner Brothers. But this movie (and most particularly these two songs paired together) helped change that. Cagney successfully portrayed George M. Cohan, making use of the real Cohan’s style of dance, while still maintaining his own!

9. “Honolulu,” Eleanor Powell and Gracie Allen, Honolulu

This is one of those dances I just love to watch! For me, it was this dance that proved to me what I had heard many times, that Eleanor Powell was one of the few women at that time who could out-dance Fred Astaire. The music is fun, as is watching Gracie Allen dancing with Eleanor, but once Eleanor starts with her solo section, that’s when the real fun begins! I love watching her tap dance and jump rope at the same time (since I would probably get tangled up if I tried)!

10. “Heather On The Hill,” Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, Brigadoon

As wonderful a dancer as she is, of course Cyd Charisse needed to be represented on this list! While there are other dances that she did that I enjoyed more (but can’t include because of my own silly rules), I can’t deny the beauty of this duet with Gene Kelly. With some beautiful music to help, this romantic routine with its lifts and balletic quality is certainly still worthy of inclusion!

Well, that’s my list! I hope everyone enjoyed it (and I’d certainly like to hear what everybody else’s lists would be)! Also, if there’s enough demand/ interest, later on I might just do a “Top 5 Dance Routines I Would Love To Learn!” But that’s all for now!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Easter Parade (1948)

Happy Easter! Happy Easter! Happy Easter to you! We’re here now for the classic 1948 MGM musical Easter Parade, starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire!

When his vaudevillian partner, Nadine (Ann Miller) decides to break up the act, Don Hewes (Fred Astaire) starts searching for another partner to prove he can get along without Nadine. He finds Hannah Brown (Judy Garland), who is working at the bar Don stops to drink at. At first, Don tried to make her over like Nadine (without realizing it), but success doesn’t come their way. Once Nadine accuses him of doing so, he decides to let Hannah be herself, and success comes their way. Of course, the whole time, Hannah has been in love with Don, while he still pines for Nadine, which creates trouble between Don and Hannah, especially after he declares his love for Hannah.

Personally, I would say most of the fun here comes from the movie’s stars and its score by composer Irving Berlin! Irving Berlin’s score contains a mixture of new songs written specifically for the movie, some he wrote back in the 1910s (when this movie is supposed to take place) and a few written in between. This ended up being the sixth and final film where Fred Astaire would work with Irving Berlin, and it produced some of their best moments! I know I always enjoy watching Fred do the song “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” I can’t help but whistle along with Fred on “Happy Easter,” I enjoy the romantic “It Only Happens When I Dance With You,” and I love watching Fred sing and dance and play drums to “Drum Crazy!” And of course, I love listening to Judy sing, especially “I Want To Go Back To Michigan.” Honestly, I could easily list any of the songs and dances, as they all are quite catchy, and just further my enjoyment of this movie!

This is a wonderful movie, one I enjoy watching around Easter. I know the connection to the holiday is barely there (depending on your beliefs), with some references to the Easter Rabbit, and the old tradition of wearing special outfits for the day. But I like to think that the variety in color shown onscreen heralds the arrival of spring. Of course, in some respects, it’s just an excuse to watch a wonderful movie once a year, particularly at a time when it readily cheers you up! I will admit, the music doesn’t really serve the plot or characters, but I don’t think it needs to with this movie! So, yes, do yourself a favor and give this one a try!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Home Video, and is one hour, forty-three minutes in length.

“I’m just a fella. A fella with an umbrella…”

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… The Story Of Vernon And Irene Castle (1939)

Next up from 1939, we have the final Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers pairing for the RKO studio, The Story Of Vernon And Irene Castle, also starring Walter Brennan.

The movie starts in 1911, as Vernon Castle (Fred Astaire) is trying to win the affections of the leading lady in the show he is appearing in. When he tries to follow her to the beach in New Rochelle, he ends up meeting Irene Foote (Ginger Rogers) when they both try to save a drowning dog.  Irene, an aspiring actress herself, discovers that Vernon can dance.   However, she is disappointed when she comes to the show that he is in and finds out that he is only a comic actor. They start courting, and they also start rehearsing a dance routine together in the hope of being in the show. After they get married, however, they are turned down. They are offered a job over in France, but they learn too late that it was only for Vernon to do his comedy routine again. They meet an agent, Maggie Sutton (Edna May Oliver), who gets them a job at a restaurant. Once they dance there, they become quite famous, resulting in a lot of people doing ballroom dancing their way. After a while, they decide to retire, but then World War I starts up, and Vernon, who hails from England, joins the Royal Flying Corps, while Irene, who had tried to keep him from it, has to keep going on.

While considered a musical by some, I would say that it barely qualifies. I know one complaint I have heard, particularly aimed at a lot of the early film musicals, is when the movies just stop to have the stars do a song and/or dance that doesn’t advance the story or work for the character. But this movie doesn’t really do that. Being that it is a biopic about a pair of ballroom dancers, and makes use of a lot of period music (with maybe ONE new song written for the movie), I would say that doesn’t quite apply here.

I do enjoy a lot of the music, but there are two moments that stand out for me more than the others. First, I would say I enjoy Fred’s tap solo to the instrumental version of the song “By The Light Of The Silvery Moon.” He does it while is waiting for the train leaving New Rochelle, and it is the moment that Ginger’s Irene discovers that Vernon can dance. I have heard this music many times, both before my first viewing of this movie, and since, but, whenever the song gets stuck in my head, I inevitably have this version replace it, and I can see quite clearly Fred dancing to it. Obviously, I might get different mileage out of it than others, but it is still a wonderful song. The other one is a waltz medley near the end of the movie, that includes “Missouri Waltz,” “Cecile Waltz” and “Nights Of Gladness,” according to IMDB (although I don’t know the music enough to know in what order). I really enjoy the orchestration here, and it just gets me every time. The dancing is simple, but really effective in combination with the music. Again, these are some of the standout moments for me.

As you can tell, I really like this movie. I know it’s not perfect historically, with Walter being played by Walter Brennan, a white man, when the real Walter was black (and so were the orchestras providing music for the Castles). As far as I know, this was done for Southern audiences, in an attempt to get those audiences to come to the movie. I disagree with it completely (especially since Gone With The Wind from that same year was really successful), although I can partially see where they were coming from, as the Astaire/ Rogers movies weren’t doing as well by this time (a combination of the fact that this was their ninth movie together since 1933 and the fact that Fred had been labeled as “box office poison” after his solo attempt, A Damsel In Distress, had failed, with Carefree also struggling). Still, I don’t like it, although I think Walter Brennan still gives a wonderful performance, as seems to be the case in those of his films that I have seen. Other incorrect historical problems couldn’t be helped by the filmmakers, as they had to deal with the strict censors of the time. Still, I would recommend this movie, especially to those interested somewhat in the history of ballroom dancing!

The movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection, and is one hour, thirty-three minutes in length.

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

https://www.amazon.com/Story-Vernon-Irene-Castle/dp/B06XSZ3HXH/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1550376405&sr=1-2&linkCode=ll1&tag=thoughtsfr066-20&linkId=e8fa75a51f9c8275c875a9717d102317&language=en_US

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… Follow The Fleet (1936)

And here we are, for my thoughts on the fifth Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, the 1936 film Follow The Fleet, also starring Randolph Scott and Harriet Hilliard (Nelson).

Fred plays “Bake” Baker, a former dancer who has joined the navy.  In San Francisco on leave, he runs into his old partner, Sherry Martin (Ginger Rogers), at the nightclub where she works.  He gets here fired, hoping to get her a better job, but his leave is cancelled that night.  Meanwhile, his shipmate, Bilge Smith (Randolph Scott) meets Sherry’s sister, Connie (Harriet Hilliard).  He likes her, but she is a little too marriage-minded for him, so he goes with her divorced friend, Mrs. Iris Manning (Astrid Allwyn).  While the fleet is away, Connie tries to repair her father’s old ship, in hopes that Bilge would be the captain.  When the fleet returns, Bake tries to help Sherry (but unintentionally causes her to fail her audition for a big producer), and Bilge tries to avoid Connie.  When Connie can’t pay off her ship, they recruit Bake to put on a show.

Now as far as my own personal opinion is concerned, this movie has two points in its favor: 1) it’s an Astaire-Rogers movie, and 2) music by Irving Berlin.  This movie includes songs such as “We Saw The Sea,” “Let Yourself Go,” “Get Thee Behind Me Satan,” “I’d Rather Lead A Band,’ “But Where Are You?,” “I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket” and “Let’s Face The Music And Dance.”

With “Let Yourself Go,” I’m left with the feeling they expected this song to be a hit.  It’s used multiple times in the movie, starting with Ginger singing it at a nightclub, followed a few minutes later by it being used as music for a “dance contest” that she and Fred dance to.  It is used again when she auditions for a theatrical producer, both with her singing it and also doing a tap solo (her only tap solo in the ten movies she made with Fred).  And of course, several of the characters are singing and humming it throughout the movie.  So if you don’t like it, that might make it a little harder to like the movie.

Then there is the song “I’d Rather Lead A Band.”  This is Fred’s tap solo for the movie, and he is joined partway through by a chorus of sailors.  He “drills” them utilizing different tap steps.  This idea would be used by other dancers later, including Ann Miller in the 1954 movie Hit The Deck.

The highlight of this movie is the song “Let’s Face The Music And Dance,” this movie’s lasting song.  Done as a “show within a show,” it gives Fred his only moment in the movie in his iconic tuxedo.  Of course, it always impresses me what they did, especially since Ginger wore a bead dress that may have weighed about fifty pounds (whether exaggeration or not, I don’t know), with a sleeve that hit Fred in the face and knocked him for a loop in the first take.  Considering how the first was what they used in the movie, I can only say that is just amazing how well-rehearsed he was.  And of course, the way this was filmed is how I prefer dance to be filmed, since the dance was filmed within one take, with no edits or camera changes, not to mention the fact that it was full body shots, allowing us to see them dance the whole time.

As you can tell, I really like this movie, and highly recommend it.  I would rank it about third of the Astaire-Rogers movies, but that is partly because I really like Irving Berlin’s music.  Maybe my opinion is biased because of that, but I do recommend it, just the same.  And of course, keep an eye out for a young (and BLONDE!!) Lucile Ball!

The movie is available on DVD from Warner Home Video, and is about one hour, fifty minutes.

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating: 

https://www.amazon.com/TCM-Greatest-Classic-Film-Collection/dp/B005F265IE/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1542426788&sr=1-2&keywords=follow+the+fleet&linkCode=ll1&tag=thoughtsfr066-20&linkId=ab283a5779e9d6ad43fb9be43780aaad&language=en_US