Follow the Fleet (1936)
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If it's not as good as the other Astaire/Rogers movies, then it's really only because of the supporting cast (and, admittedly, not too great of a script, not as witty as usual). The production design is as sparkling as it ever was, Fred and Ginger are at the top of their snarky game, and the songs by Irving Berlin are some of the best he wrote for Hollywood. On top of that, this has some of the best numbers of Fred and Ginger's entire career. But sadly, the comic relief is sorely missed. Randolph Scott is kind of a huge cad, and really makes one long for Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore, Helen Broderick, or Eric Rhodes.
Follow the Fleet is the kind of affair where modern audiences can't be expected to 'ship the couples, whether we're talking about Astaire and Rogers, OR the subplot couple played by Randolph Scott and Harriet Nelson. The guys are jackasses, and the girls are gonna end up with them because that's just how things work in these movies. That said, it's a lot of fun. The boys are sailors whose lives intersect the ladies' during shore leave, and almost immediately, Fred is meddling in Ginger's life. Harriet plays the "ugly duckling" who swans to meet Randolph, but he's too afraid of marriage to know a good thing when he sees one. It all ends with a big show on a boat. Pretty much what you'd expect from the title alone. But there's some great misunderstandings, Astaire in the trickster role, Rogers rolling her eyes at him, a dance number that's more dramatic and beautiful than you expect from the shenanigan-heavy story that precedes it, and some great, great, great Irving Berlin songs. "We Saw the Sea" is a fast and fun opening number, and "Let's Face the Music and Dance" is a show stopper. Bit parts for Betty Grable and Lucille Ball. And I know this won't be a popular opinion, but it's kind of relaxing to not have Edward Everett Horton making his big expressions all over an Astaire and Rogers musical spectacular.
The final dance is amazing!
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