2018: Year In Review + Top 11 Movies Watched

Update on 12/23/2019: I hadn’t planned on doing anymore editing of this one, but since I decided to make my 2019 list a Year In Review, I’ve decided to come back and do the same for 2018. In looking back, 2018 saw me deciding, just for the fun of it, to go through and “review” many of the movies I watch for my friends. With their support, I started out with a few then-recent purchases, posting those reviews as notes on my Facebook profile. After starting to see how quickly they were going to pile up, I then created my own FB fan page, where I moved those written reviews over to. On there, starting with my review of Going Hollywood, I started doing the reviews as videos. Then, after a while, I decided to start a blog, and this site was born! Now home to my written reviews, along with exclusive stuff, like my posts on screen teams, comparing films, film series, not to mention some of my lists (including my Top 40 Christmas Movies list), It’s been a work-in-progress as I try to refine how I am doing everything.

On the movie side of things, as I said, I started out doing a few then-recent purchases, before switching to the filmographies of various movie stars. I started out with plans to review movies from George Burns and Gracie Allen, along with Eleanor Powell, but, after previously reviewing King Of Jazz and throwing in a few of his other films, I decided to add in Bing Crosby, too. And while I had planned to take a break from those reviews to focus in on Christmas movies in December (or rather, for the days before Christmas day itself), I decided to break even earlier and focus on a few film noirs for the month of November (or, rather, “Noir-vember”). Of course, I also focused in on comments about screen teams like George Burns & Gracie Allen and Bing Crosby & Fred Astaire, plus comparing My Man Godfrey and Merrily We Live, as well as my thoughts on the two Bob Hope Paleface films and Bing Crosby’s turns as Father O’Malley in Going My Way and The Bells Of St. Mary’s.

Update on 8/26/2019: originally published on 11/22/2018, it was my plan to leave this post alone, and do it every year on Thanksgiving. Since then, I have decided to do my first edit of “Top Disc Releases Of The Year” posts on Thanksgiving, and do my “Top 10 Movies Watched In The Year” posts just after my final review of the year. Since I hadn’t included the remaining movies I reviewed in 2018 after publishing this post, I am including the one movie that would have made the list and, instead of dropping the last movie on the list, make this a one-time “Top 11 Movies Watched In The Year” list.

And here’s my list, for what I think are some of the best movies I watched in the year 2018 (and reviewed).  Admittedly, this list mainly includes titles I have watched and reviewed since I started doing this (otherwise, the list would be quite different).  These are all movies I enjoyed, and would recommend to anybody that is interested!  And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to go to Amazon!

  1. Blue Skies (1946) (Universal Studios, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire team up for a second to prove that they are “A Couple of Song and Dance Men,” and Fred proves shows us what it would be like to see him dancing with a chorus of dancers as good as he is (because they are all him!) in this musical, with the wonderful music of Irving Berlin to support them!  Full review here.
  2. Carefree (1938) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The eighth of ten movies to co-star Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, this screwball comedy mainly features Ginger Rogers, and shows just how well she can handle comedy!  And of course, what would an Astaire-Rogers movie be without some dancing as well, with music provided by composer Irving Berlin!  Full review here.
  3. Follow the Fleet (1936) (Warner Home Video, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The fifth Astaire-Rogers movie features Fred Astaire in the navy.  He is joined by Randolph Scott, and Ginger Rogers and Harriet Hilliard (Nelson) are their love interests.  Features music from Irving Berlin, including the haunting “Let’s Face The Music and Dance.”  Full review here.
  4. The Sky’s The Limit (1943) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • A wartime musical featuring Fred Astaire as a flying ace trying to go incognito to enjoy his ten-day leave.  He meets a photographer played by Joan Leslie, who wants to be do more for the war effort than just fluff pieces on local celebrities.  Features one of Fred’s best tap solos set to the song “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road).”  Full review here.
  5. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The classic tale of Adam Pontipee (Howard Keel) coming to town looking for a bride, and finding Milly (Jane Powell).  Upon meeting his rough-housing six brothers, she helps refine them to help their prospects.  And of course, who can ever forget the barn-raising dance, one of the best dances ever put to film!  Full review here.
  6. A Damsel In Distress (1937) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • In his first movie alone since being partnered with Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire is joined by comedy (and dance!) team George Burns and Gracie Allen in a musical supported by the music of George and Ira Gerswhin.  Full review here.
  7. White Christmas (1954) (Paramount, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The classic Christmas musical featuring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a show business team, both onstage and behind the scenes.  When they, along with their new girlfriends played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, run into their former general, now running a failing inn, they decide to help save his inn.  A wonderful movie to watch around Christmastime, but just as fun the rest of the year, too!  Full review here.
  8. Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940) Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The king of rhythm (Fred Astaire) and the queen of tap (Eleanor Powell) team up in this movie about a pair of Broadway hopefuls, one of whom gets a big part due to a case of mistaken identity.  Full review here.
  9. Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) (DVD not currently available but available as digital copy/streaming on Amazon, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Fun movie starring Eleanor Powell as a hopeful dancer wanting to make good on Broadway, supported by several wonderful tunes from the song-writing team of Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed.  Full review here.
  10. Honolulu (1939) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Robert Young stars in a “Prince and the Pauper”-type role, as two different men with an uncanny resemblance, while Eleanor Powell does the Hawaiian hula her way, with support from George Burns and Gracie Allen!  Full review here.
  11. Little Nellie Kelly (1940) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Judy Garland pulls double duty as a mother and daughter from Ireland, does “Singin’ in the Rain” her way and more in this classic based on the George M. Cohan show.  Full review here.

Honorable mentions: The Jazz Singer (1927) (Warner Home Video, Blu-ray and DVD), Merrily We Live (1938) (Classicflix, Blu-ray and DVD), My Man Godfrey (1936) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… The Sky’s The Limit (1943)

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.

Film Length: 1 hour, 30 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #4 in Top 11 Movies Watched in 2018

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Holiday Inn (1942)Fred AstaireZiegfeld Follies (1945)

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – Joan Leslie – Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

I Married A Witch (1942) – Robert Benchley – Road To Utopia (1946)

Robert Ryan – On Dangerous Ground (1951)

Sullivan’s Travels (1941) – Eric Blore – Romance On The High Seas (1948)

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