Astaire and Rogers let themselves go in... Follow the Fleet (1936)

Yesterday, we swam around the pool with Esther Williams. Today, we match taps with Fred and Ginger. Follow the Fleet is, to me, pretty underrated. Sometimes it can feel like all you hear about is Top Hat, Swing Time, and The Gay Divorcee, which are all great films, but come on, there's more out there. Like Follow the Fleet. Effervescent, silly, and very easy on the eyes and ears, this film is one of my go-to's whenever I'm having a bad day. I typically give Top Hat as my favorite Astaire-Rogers flick, but honestly, it and Fleet switch back and forth.

This doesn't mean that the film is faultless. Its second leads, Randolph Scott and Harriet Hilliard, have a somewhat insipid storyline and their characters aren't the best. Hilliard, later Mrs. Ozzie Nelson, depends too much on Scott's character, while he is, well, a jerk. But I promise you, they're small blimps in comparison to all that's great about the film. (If I'm being frank, instead of paying attention to their dialogue, my eyes will wander to the fantastic sets or the gorgeous costumes and I kind of tune it out. So, feel free to
do the same!) One of the things I really like about Fleet is that Fred gets to play someone slightly different than what's expected of his persona: a gum-chewing gob with a smart mouth and no fancy clothes in sight (except for one number at the end). Fred enjoyed this aspect, writing in his 1959 autobiography, "Some people objected to me in these [military] outfits, thinking I should always be decked out in those damned tails, I guess, but I liked it." I concur!

This picture would be the fifth for Rogers and Astaire. They were super successful together, yet they weren't entirely happy to be stuck as a team. It's understandable -- they came to Hollywood as separate entities, they were massively talented without each other, and for Ginger in particular, the preparation for these musicals were on top of the other films she had to do, whereas Fred only had one or two films a year to focus on. Ginger made sixteen movies without Astaire in 1933-1935. (Nine of those sixteen were just in '33!) "Follow the Fleet looked like a good show," Fred wrote. "Ginger and I were enthusiastic about it but we also wondered how long it would be safe to carry on this cycle of team pictures. We didn't want to run it into the ground and we discussed the situation with each other
frequently. Irving Berlin had agreed to write the music for Fleet, so we decided it was best to do this one and talk of other plans later." In her autobiography, Ginger said "I was delighted to do musicals; still, I longed for something to sink my teeth into." She also wasn't thrilled that Mark Sandrich was hired for his third Astaire-Rogers film, believing that Sandrich hated her. "To him I was merely a clotheshanger who could dance sometimes, sing upon occasion, and perhaps make the leading man smile at me. ... Mark worshipped Fred's genius and thought he was the greatest thing since 7-Up. I was dismissed as a little bubblehead." Other than that, Ginger seemed to have a grand time during production.

The film starts the way every film should start: Fred doing a goofy song and shuffle. He plays "Bake" Baker, an ex-hoofer turned sailor who is really tired of seeing the ocean. This isn't what the Navy promised! No action, no girls, no exotic locations. The other shipmates agree, joining Bake for "We Saw the Sea," which includes flipping Bake, a surprisingly acrobatic move for Astaire who generally left those things to someone like Gene Kelly. You can see it here. Bake is excited, though -- the
fleet is docking in San Francisco! He goes below deck and we meet his best friend "Bilge" Smith (Scott), another sailor with an unfortunate nickname. While rifling through his locker, Bake drops a photograph of himself and a beautiful blonde named Sherry Martin (Rogers). Bilge is impressed: "Hey! You didn't tell me you had this in the act!" Bake brushes him off, explaining that he had asked Sherry to marry him but she said no, spurring him to leave show business and join the Navy. Recently Sherry had written him a letter, boasting that she was working at a high-class joint in San Francisco, but Bake acts disinterested in the whole thing.

That night, Bake and his group of friends go to the Paradise Club. Bake immediately goes to the telephone booth to call up Sherry, only to get no answer. Meanwhile, at the ticket counter, Connie Martin (Hilliard) is told she can't get into the club without a male escort. Disappointed, Connie turns to leave and spots Bilge, who has just arrived with the guys' cheap beer. Connie pretends that Bilge is her escort and pays their way in, explaining to Bilge once they are inside that she finally had a free night
and she felt like letting loose a little by coming here where her sister works. Bilge really isn't interested, though, his eyes looking over other women as Connie talks. (What a charmer.) He quickly joins his friends and she goes to her sister's dressing room. Sherry is happy to see Connie, but she's also worried about how disheartened her sister seems. Connie is tired of being overlooked, especially by men, so Sherry suggests she make a few changes to her appearance, telling Connie “You look too
darn intelligent. You know, it isn’t that gentlemen really prefer blondes, it’s just that we look dumber!” Sherry enlists the help of fellow performer Kitty (a young and blonde Lucille Ball) to make Connie over while she goes to do her number. Ball had done one previous Astaire-Rogers film, Roberta (1935), and she was great friends with Rogers, whose mother Lela was a mentor to Ball. Lela often crusaded for Lucy in her early career and Lucy never forgot it. After Desilu bought RKO Studios in the late
1950's, Lucy started her own Desilu Workshop where she could nurture and work with the young talent on contract, just like Lela did so many years ago. Interestingly, one of Ball's students was TCM host Robert Osborne, who became a close friend for the rest of her life. Lucy got her first fan letter thanks to Fleet. It read: "You might give the tall, gum-chewing blonde more parts and see if she can't make the grade -- a good gamble."

Back to our film! Sherry joins her trio of cute chorus girls onstage for a lively rendition of "Let Yourself Go." If you think that gal in the middle looks an awful lot like Betty Grable, you'd be correct. Like Ball, Grable had been in a Fred and Ginger flick before with The Gay Divorcee (1934). Her part in that film had been a bit bigger since she got to perform "Let's Knock Knees" with Edward Everett Horton and here she sings back-up and then slowly disappears for the rest of the movie.
Anyway, as Sherry ends her song, Bake comes away from the telephone and is shocked to find his old partner right in front of him. Their reunion is so endearing -- they run into each other's arms, Sherry gets a little teary-eyed, they can't stop saying "Gee, it's good to see you" to one another. It sounds melodramatic, but it's really not. They walk arm-in-arm to a table, their reunion slowly turning sour as bitter feelings rise back up. Bake is still stinging over Sherry's rejection of his
marriage proposal, especially since her reasoning was that marriage would have damaged her career. "Maybe you were right," he says. "If you had married me, you wouldn’t be working in a chop suey joint like this!" Sherry snaps, "Well, I don’t see any admiral stripes on you!" My favorite part of this exchange is when Bake orders an ice cream sundae for Sherry, deliberately asking for no whipped cream. With an edge in her voice, Sherry corrects him ("With whipped cream, and plenty of it!"). The
script takes advantage of the fact that this is Fred and Ginger's fifth paired film, allowing their characters to have an off-screen past that gives their relationship a familiarity that is tons of fun to watch. A little later in their conversation, after some more pointed barbs, Sherry and Bake shake hands and decide to let bygones be bygones. "Let’s kiss and make up," Bake slyly suggests. "No, let’s just make up. That’ll give you something to work for," Sherry replies. Love it.

Back in the dressing room, Kitty puts the finishing touches on Connie, whose dress is to die for. Usually I drool over Ginger's wardrobes, but I gotta admit, I find Hilliard's more attractive this go-around. This glittery number may be my favorite. Connie tries out her new look on Bilge, immediately getting his attention when she walks by. Hilliard does a good job of showing Connie revel in the flirtation while also still feeling a little shy and introverted. For example, when she sits down with Bilge, she lines
up empty beer bottles to create a barrier between them -- it's flirty, but it demonstrates that she's not totally ready for the handsy playboy sitting next to her. Bilge does the whole "You wanna get out of here?" spiel and Connie says yes, although the audience can tell she is apprehensive about it when Bilge leaves her outside for a minute and she sings "Get Thee Behind Me, Satan." This song was originally going to be Ginger's in the previous year's Top Hat. When it was picked for Fleet, it wasn't Hilliard's
voice the studio was thinking of, but Irene Dunne's. Dunne was the first choice for Connie, her re-teaming with Randolph Scott capitalizing on their work in Roberta, but she had other commitments so a few numbers were cut and "Let's Face the Music and Dance" was given to Fred to sing, which was definitely the right choice. Hilliard's voice wasn't operatic like Dunne's, making it much more enjoyable for me, although I'm sure others disagree. You can watch Hilliard's version here.

Back inside, Sherry and Bake casually dance when Sherry realizes that it's the club's dance contest, which employees aren't supposed to be in. Bake goads her into breaking the rule by teasing that she couldn't keep up with him anymore, and the twosome wow the crowd. What always cracks me up is that two other couples actually have the gall to try and beat Bake and Sherry, played by the greatest dance team ever. This routine is pretty loose, Fred and Ginger's legs flying everywhere and hardly any of it is in hold. It comes as no surprise when the duo wins. Watch the number here.

At the Martin sisters' darling apartment, Connie and her sailor get to know each other. He's thoroughly impressed with her homemade custard pie and she's amused that he never writes to his mother because he feels like it's unnecessary (yeah, he's, uh, a winner). The budding romance is almost deflated when Connie tells Bilge she is a teacher; earlier he had told Bake he was tired of dating schoolteachers, but Connie's okay because she teaches music. I don't get the logic, either. The two further bond
when Bilge says that he wants to take his captain exams and become the master of his own ship. Connie loves the sea as much as Bilge, having been raised by her captain father. When his ship ran aground, he apparently died of a broken heart and left the ship to Connie, including a nifty model of it that is hanging in the apartment. Bilge relates to everything Connie is saying... until she casually mentions that she would want her ship's captain to be her husband. Marriage? Blech! Bilge just
happens to notice that his curfew is coming up and as he is leaving, he meets Iris Manning (Astrid Allwyn), a wealthy divorcee who stopped by to see her friend Sherry. Out on the street, Iris offers Bilge a ride to the docks and it's pretty clear her intentions are not honorable. Neither are Bilge's. It's hard for Randolph Scott to build audience sympathy with this character when he was literally all over Connie a minute ago and now he is hopping in the back of Iris's car with a smirk on his face.

I would like to take a break from the film real quick to gush over this gorgeous apartment. It's definite proof that the movies are make-believe -- how else could you explain the Martin girls being able to afford this place? It is easily my dream home, although we only get to see the kitchen and the living room, which doubles as a dining room. Look at these pictures and tell me it isn't to die for:


This photo will be explained later, I promise.

Anyway, Sherry and Bake are leaving the Paradise Club when Sherry's boss intercepts them. He is introduced to Bake, who proceeds to insult the club while pretending to be Sherry's manager, getting her fired. Bake assures her he has a plan to get her an audition the next day with theatrical producer Jim Nolan and he drops her off at her apartment. Returning to the ship, Bake finds out that the fleet has been ordered to sail out right away. Uh oh. Meanwhile, Sherry is mooning over her
new photo of her and Bake with their contest trophy while Connie can't stop talking about Bilge, and I can't get over Sherry's adorable pajamas. Rogers and Hilliard are great at convincing me that they're sisters. They remind me somewhat of me and my sister, honestly. Connie notices that the fleet is leaving, and thinking that Bake double-crossed her, Sherry smashes her newly-framed picture. Bake's got some 'splaining to do...

The next day, Bake and Bilge are forced to paint high up on the ship as punishment for lying about why Bilge was out past curfew last night. Apparently, Iris didn't take Bilge to the docks right away (wink wink) and Bake told their superiors that Bilge was visiting his sick mother. When Bilge got on deck, they asked how his mother was and he responded that she was in Texas. Bilge doesn't mind the painting too much, though -- he's wild about Iris, an ex-chorus girl who married rich and was then "forced" to go to Reno for a divorce. Bake sees right through Iris and asks his friend about that teacher he left the club with, unaware that it is Connie. "She's a swell kid too, but she's kind of serious. She's sappy like you. She wants to get married."

Back on land, Connie has decided to restore her father's ship, basically because she believes Bilge is The One and when he comes back, they'll live happily ever after. It's kind of insane since they've only had one date, but you also know that Connie loves this ship, so she isn't renovating it just for Bilge. Anyway, the Martin girls don't have all the money they need to fix everything, but the man they put in charge of it, Capt. Hickey, was a great friend of their father's so he agrees to figure something out for them. This is mildly important to remember.

A few months go by and Bilge has passed his captain exams. Bake congratulates him and then goes on deck to practice with his band. Some important guests from Britain are on the ship getting a tour of the fleet, but Bake and his band don't hear the trumpet call to go stand in formation and they continue with their jam session. It looks like they're about to get into trouble until one of the British guests asks if they can watch the band perform. Say no more! "I'd Rather Lead a Band" is a fun number, like all of this film's numbers, and it's an excuse to watch a great Astaire solo. You can see it here.

Some time later, the fleet comes back to San Francisco. Connie is super excited, but Sherry could care less because she was able to wrangle an audition with Jim Nolan and she didn't need stupid Bake to do it. At their apartment that night, Connie gets all dolled up and prepares a scrumptious meal for Bilge -- he had promised before he left that they had a date as soon as he returned, and she is thrilled to break the news about the S.S. Connie Martin (not kidding, that's the name of her ship). When
Sherry comes home from work, though, she finds Connie asleep on the couch and the food untouched. That louse never showed up. Bake, meanwhile, is sleeping in a phone booth. He had tried to reach Sherry but she had already gone to work and she refuses to call him back when she gets homes, leaving Bake to pass out while waiting. He had even brought her a present: a small pet monkey. Not the most practical thing, but he's a cutie so I'll let it slide.

The next day, Bake goes to Jim Nolan's office to try and get Sherry an audition. His attempts to convince his old pal and Nolan's employee David fail since Nolan is currently auditioning a woman that he is close to signing. She's dancing right now and if she can sing, she's golden. Of course, Bake doesn't know that woman is Sherry, who is tapping up a storm in her fringe shorts and vest with a silky blouse. Out of all of their films, this is the only time Rogers danced without Astaire, and it's pretty great. Her facial
expressions in particular are outstanding, proving what a complete actress Rogers was. You can watch her solo here. Understandably, Sherry asks for a drink of water before doing her singing. Bake overhears this and, seeing an opportunity to get rid of Sherry's competition, he fills her cup with bicarbonate of soda, causing Sherry to uncontrollably hiccup, thus ruining her audition. (I'm not one to expect realism out of Hollywood, especially a musical like this, but I never understand why Sherry doesn't get another chance. The beginning of her song is strong, so couldn't she just explain that she suddenly got the hiccups?)

That night, Iris is hosting a party at her grand estate. Sherry is sitting alone, bummed out about her day, when Bake appears, having arrived with Bilge. He thinks it'll cheer her up to hear about his sabotage, but of course she becomes furious, vowing to get even with him before storming off. On the terrace, Connie bumps into Bilge, but the fact that it takes him a minute to remember her name isn't a good sign. When she mentions their dinner date the night before, he lies that he had to stay
onboard and Connie eats it up. He then literally brushes her off and goes to find Iris. Channeling her disappointment, Connie sings "But Where Are You?" for the guests, filling in for Sherry as the entertainment. You can watch the heartsick Hilliard here. Once again, her gown is superb. Over at the punch bowl, Bake is disappointed to find out that he'd been downing punch only to discover it wasn't spiked with liquor like he thought. The poor guy can't catch a break, and it will soon get worse.

Dancing with a Navy lieutenant, Sherry asks him how people can tell his position apart from others', the answer being the ring he is wearing. With a gleam in her eye, Sherry borrows the ring and hides it in her handkerchief as she pretends to cry in front of Bake, claiming that some guy just tried to get fresh. Feeling chivalrous, Bake has her point out the man and goes to start a fight, only to slip and end up in a water fountain. Satisfied, Sherry gives the lieutenant his ring back and Bake is
ordered back to the ship. Looking for her sister so they can go home, Connie stumbles upon Bilge and Iris snuggling and hears Iris allude to their rendezvous last night. If I were Connie, I would cut my losses. The script just doesn't give Bilge enough redeeming qualities to make us root for him to be with saintly Connie. If anything, he deserves to have Iris. But hey, don't let that ruin the movie for you -- there's plenty to compensate for the Bilge/Connie drama.

In the morning, Bake hopes to get in Sherry's good graces by bringing her the pet monkey with a bouquet of flowers in its tiny arms. Sherry thinks it is adorable until she realizes it's from Bake. He doesn't get why she is still so angry with him, especially since she pulled such a dirty trick on him the previous night, but Sherry tells him her bad mood is because of Connie. She wants to move back to Bellport, the town where their father had raised her, upset over her romance with her sailor. "Who is he?"
Bake asks. "Well, with the usual lack of imagination a sailor has, he told her his name was Smith. They call him Bilge." "Bilge Smith? He's my shipmate! ... He’s stuck on that Iris Manning. Say, what’s she like?" "Anything in a uniform." Bake offers to talk to Bilge, but Sherry says Bilge has to come to Connie of his own will, not because he has been guilted into it. However, Bake could talk to Connie and see if he can change her mind.

On her ship, Connie is saying goodbye to Capt. Hickey when she realizes that the captain staked his reputation to help get the ship restored -- if she cannot pay off the bill, his career will be ruined. She decides to stay in San Francisco to raise the rest of the money, but she doesn't get the chance to inform Sherry and Bake of this before he launches into his speech: "Sherry tells me you’re leaving. Well, that’s probably the wisest thing to do. Run away. All this stuff about fighting for your man and all that makes things so complicated. Now if all girls would just give up and run back to Bellport, then we’d definitely see the end of family life, little Jr. would remain just an idea, and every man would burn his own toast. I thank you." (If you've seen this movie as much as I have, you can't read that dialogue without hearing Fred's voice in your head, including every inflection.) Now that Connie is going to stay, what can they do to get money? Put on a show!

Bake talks to David and is able to get costumes from a show that quickly closed. All of his sailor buddies help build sets and Sherry's chorus girl pals are on hand, too. During rehearsal one day, Bake sits at the piano and does a fantastic instrumental version of "I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket." I don't know why I love it so much, but I really do. Bake then tells Sherry they should go through one of their routines; Sherry reminds him they haven't choreographed the whole dance, but
Bake wants to go ahead anyway. "I'm Putting..." is definitely one of the sillier Astaire-Rogers dances. The song is a ditty about realizing that you just want to commit to one person instead of dealing with the hassle of juggling multiple lovers (no, really!), and the dance is pure goofiness. Everything will be going along smoothly and then Fred will do a step that Ginger really likes so she'll keep repeating it instead of moving on. You can see it here and you should. It's so joyful to watch.

Now that the show is being taken care of, it's time for Bake to get Iris away from Bilge. He types up a fake sketch for the show and casually asks Bilge what he's doing tonight. He then sends the sketch to Iris, asking her to be in it, and arrives at her house a few minutes before Bilge for a rehearsal. While Iris goes to change into a racy nightgown (it's a dress rehearsal, after all!), Bake lays on her couch with a drink in one hand and a cigar in the other to make it look a touch more scandalous. When
Bilge arrives, he mistakes Bake for Iris and covers his eyes. "Guess who?" I freaking love it when Bake says in mock surprise "I know! Bilge!" Bilge is none too pleased, but he doesn't totally believe that Bake and Iris actually have something going on. Bake dares him to hide behind a pillar and listen in to their conversation, Bilge unaware that it is all scripted dialogue. When he interrupts them, Iris berates him and says that he was nothing to her. He leaves and Iris thinks the rehearsal went wonderfully -- Bilge played his part perfectly, don't you think?

It's the night of the show and Bake's liberty pass has been revoked. He confronts Bilge, wondering if he did it as revenge for Iris, but Bilge replies it wasn't him. Bake quickly finds out it was because of his altercation with the lieutenant at the party. He refuses to stay on the ship, though, and when Bilge tries to stop him, he knocks him out and jumps into the water to swim to Connie's boat. Astaire recalled this scene in his autobiography, noting that it didn't quite go according to plan: "When the time came for me to swing, I got carried away and brought one way up from my shoelaces that really clipped Randy on the mouth, bringing blood and almost flooring him. The 'Sheriff' had every reason to be annoyed with me but if he was, he never showed it. Always the southern gentleman."

Bilge is sent after Bake, leading to an awkward bump-in with Connie. She tells him where Bake is, knowing that it will ruin the show, and Bilge seems to have a change of heart about her. She's not having it, though, and she walks away. Bilge finds Bake in his dressing room and says he'll have to put him under arrest, but when Bake angrily informs him that this whole show is to pay for the ship Connie restored for him, Bilge agrees to stall the arrest until after the show.

Now, for the number you all have been waiting for: "Let's Face the Music and Dance." This routine plays more like a short film rather than a part of Follow the Fleet; however, that doesn't mean it feels disjointed with the rest of the film. It's basically the classy, ultra-sophisticated dance you've been expecting Fred and Ginger to bust into every time they dance in Fleet. That wouldn't exactly fit in with the characters of Sherry and Bake, though, so the script waits until they're putting
on a deliberate performance -- then they can act as suave as they want. "Let's Face..." has to be the darkest of the Astaire-Rogers dances. No one wants anything to do with Fred since he lost all of his money at the roulette table, so he decides to shoot himself. He is stopped by the sight of Ginger getting ready to jump to her own death, and after saving her, he tries to brighten the mood by singing and coaxing her into a dance. It's very beautiful and slow, and the music is stunning. You must see it.

Of course, the biggest story surrounding this number is Ginger's dress. I'll let Fred tell you about that: "Ginger came up with a beaded gown which was surely designed for anything but dancing. I saw it before shooting of the number started, and I tried a few steps with Ginger. It was a good-looking dress but very heavy, I thought -- one solid mass of beads. ... When Ginger did a quick turn, the sleeves, which must have weighed a few pounds each, would fly -- necessitating a quick dodge by me. If I
didn't duck I'd get the sleeve in the face. After a few rehearsals with this creation, I thought I had mastered the menace. When shooting of the number started, things went smoothly in the first take for about fifteen seconds. Then Ginger gave out with some special kind of a twist and I got the flying sleeve smack on the jaw and partly in the eye. I kept on dancing, although somewhat maimed."

When the dance was over, Astaire admitted to the director and Ginger that
he couldn't even remember it, that's how dazed he was. He wanted another take, the second of many because none of them satisfied everyone. They all agreed to reconvene the next day, but it was unnecessary. Looking at the rushes the following morning, "the #1 take was perfect. It was the one we all liked best. The haymaker I got from Ginger's sleeve didn't show a bit. I was astounded." Ginger had problems with the dress as well, writing that the weight of the skirt would flare out and slap me, throwing
me off balance. I had to learn to steel myself against the onslaught of the 'third person' in our dance, my dress." (If you're curious, by the way, this particular dress was pale blue according to Ginger, not gold like I always imagined it.) In the depressing musical Pennies from Heaven, Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters recreated this number and included clips of it. Astaire hated what they did, saying "I have never spent two more miserable hours in my life. Every scene was cheap and vulgar. They don't realize that the thirties were a very innocent age, and that should have been set in the eighties — it was just froth; it makes you cry it's so distasteful." You can see Peters and Martin's interpretation here. Although I agree with Astaire on the movie, I do like this poignant moment because Martin and Peters' characters use Fred and Ginger as an escape, just like real Thirties audiences did.

After their amazing routine, Sherry and Bake get a note backstage that Jim Nolan, who was in the audience, wants to talk to them about a contract. Sherry tells the messenger that they'll get back to Nolan as soon as Bake gets out of the brig. "There’s one other condition," Bake says, "and that’s that Ms. Martin asks me to marry her." "Well, will you?" she asks. "You’ll have to ask Father," Bake smartly replies. Bilge and Connie have reconciled as well, but now it's time for the boys to go back to the ship. We leave our couples happily waving goodbye to each other, including our little monkey friend, because why not?

Follow the Fleet comes from the 1922 play Shore Leave, although they really don't bear a resemblance to one another. Shore Leave was made into a musical before Fleet called Hit the Deck. That musical came on the scene in 1925 and had a hit score by Vincent Youmans. In 1955, it was adapted to the screen with a sensational cast: Debbie Reynolds, Jane Powell, Tony Martin, Ann Miller, Russ Tamblyn, and Vic Damone. That version capitalized on the unofficial "sailors-on-leave" genre that popped up after 1949's On the Town. Funnily enough, Tony Martin played Bilge in Hit the Deck and he also played an extra sailor in Fleet, although I've never been able to spot him. Hit the Deck is an adorable, entertaining film, though -- I highly recommend it. If you ever need a pick-me-up, you can't go wrong with a double feature of Fleet and Deck. It would be literal sunshine coming right out of your TV.









































Look at this shot! I've been dying to get a screenshot of this for a long time -- it's such a perfect image.





With love,
Michaela

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This is my second entry to the brilliant Ice Cream Social Blogathon. For the rest of the magnificent blogathon, click here.

Comments

  1. Hi Michaela. You are right, Follow the Fleet has some nice features compared to the more commonly seen Astaire-Rogers vehicles. On the other hand, it is disconcerting to see Randolph Scott play a jerk. I'm always drawn to movies set in my native city, San Francisco, even though no one involved came within 400 miles of San Francisco.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The funny thing is it really could be any city, I'm not sure why they picked San Francisco. They don't show any landmarks or hilly streets or anything.

      Regarding Randolph Scott, he's good at playing a heel -- he gave the movie exactly what the script called for, I think. It's just a shame the script didn't soften Bilge until the last 10 minutes.

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  2. Loved the BTS stories, especially about Robert Osborne and Lucille Ball.

    I do still need to see this one, but it looks magical and I'll be visiting all the clips you included. :-)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I don't think I could steer you wrong on a Ginger and Fred picture! I think all of their films are winners, even when they all aren't entirely perfect. Enjoy the clips in the meantime, and thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I admit that I have trouble getting through the Connie-Bilge storyline, which is hopelessly bad, but "Let's Face the Music" is stunning, and I love the dynamic between Fred & Ginger in this one. Great review. I loved learning more about the stars' opinions on it, and Lucy's!:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Leah! I had just read Lucy's autobiography, so luckily I remembered she talked about the film and I was able to relate it. Let's be honest: no one watches this movie for Connie and Bilge. It's just a fact of life. As you can tell, I try to find the good in every film I watch, so there is one nice thing that comes from that storyline... Connie's clothes! :)

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  4. Lovely post! I've only been able to see this movie once, but it's still a memorable one for me. I just adore seeing Fred in crackerjacks, and Ginger's cute sailor-inspired outfit too!

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    1. Me too! I love my dancing duo in sophisticated formal clothes, but they're so darn cute in their sailor outfits. Resistance is futile when it comes to those two. Thanks for reading!

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  5. Fred and Ginger are always a treat for when I'm feeling sad. And this film also has the bonus of Randolph Scott. "Randy" was very cute in his 1930s movies, and in a sailor outfit, oh my!
    Don't forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)
    Kisses!
    Le

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's true -- Randolph Scott is pretty handsome in his Navy get-up. I haven't seen a lot of his films, but I do enjoy him, even though my review may not sound like it. He cracks me up in My Favorite Wife and he does great in Jesse James.

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  6. This is my favorite Fred & Ginger movie! Although I love them all, I have to admit some of the others run together for me. Fred's always in a top hat and tails and the supporting cast is so similar in many of them (Eric Blore, Edward Everett Horton, Helen Broderick). Follow the Fleet is definitely distinctive, and I love that Ginger gets to sing and dance by herself!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand them blending together -- that happens to me with the "Road to..." series. I honestly can never remember what happens in which; I'm not even sure which is my favorite! It's true that Follow the Fleet is distinctive. That's part of its appeal for me, much as I love the sleek, glamorous, Art Deco-ness of the others. Thanks for reading!

      Delete

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