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USA 1936
Directed by
Mark Sandrich
110 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Follow The Fleet

Although Fred and Ginger’s previous outings for RKO, The Gay Divorcee (1934)and Top Hat (1935), films which like thishad been directed by Mark Sandrich had been set in high society, the studio, fearing audience fatigue with the carryings-on of the idle rich opted to down-market them as a couple of hoofers in this film based on a ho-hum 1922 stage play which  had already seen several stage and screen incarnations.

Former partners “Bake” Baker and Sherry Martin have gone their separate ways after he proposed marriage to her and she turned him down. He joined the Navy  and she became a dance-hall hostess. Of course neither are particularly happy with their lot. While on shore leave Bake comes across Sherry and decides to rekindle their partnership/romance. Cue the usual tiffs and misunderstandings.

Rogers takes on her persona with aplomb but Astaire seems out of place in the workaday world and mugs his way furiously through proceedings. There is also a sub-plot involving Bake’s  philandering  buddy, “Bilge” Smith and Sherry’s shy sister, Connie (Harriet Hilliard) which skimpy as it is at least serves to introduce Irving Berlin's "Get Behind Me Satan".

Despite the uncongenial setting Follow the Fleet is an enjoyable film with a raft of strong Berlin songs underpinning the as-usual irresistible dancing.  Sandrich keeps the comedic momentum going in numbers such as “I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket”. “Let Yourself Go” and “I’d Rather Lead A Band” with the film culminating in the film’s stand-out number, the philosophical “Let’s Face The Music and Dance”.




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