And now for something completely different...Fred & Ginger blogging, day 2.

Follow the Fleet is one of their least typical films, not altogether a great thing for a team whose formula was so successful. In this case, Fred plays a seaman (hehe), Ginger plays an entertainer who specialises in Navy boys, and two other people play the romantic plot. That's right, it's an Astaire-Rogers vehicle which isn't concerned with getting them together. And much as the latter-day Marx films suffered for relegating the brothers to playing support for uncharismatic romantic leads, this film is much less interesting when the two demigods are off-screen (whatever her billing may be, Ginger is clearly given the least screentime of the four leads. It's like hiring Brando for a five-minute role. Oh, wait).

The plot is oddly dense for one of these films: a dancing sailor meets his ex-partner, while his friend meets her sister (oh, fine, Randolph Scott and Harriet "Wife of Ozzie" Hilliard). Not-Fred and Not-Ginger hit it off, promise to meet when the sailors return, he has commitment issues, a boat is leased, money becomes an issue. Meanwhile the real stars bicker about their career, past and present, and then do a "let's put on a show!" to stave off the Ee-vil Bank. Homosexuality does not become a subtext, like it usually does in sailor musicals.

Happily, the numbers are fantastic (all by Irving Berlin, just like their previous outing). The most famous is certainly "Let's Face the Music and Dance," the finale, but Ginger gets a rare solo in "Let Yourself Go," which appears three times: once as a cabaret song, once in a dance contest, and once as a tap dance (for Ginger alone, and it's satsifying. Fred was, beyond doubt, a brilliant dancer and choreographer, but I feel she is technically superior, and it's nice to be able to watch her without his admittedly glorious distraction). The dance contest, which for God-only-knows what reason put me in mind of Pulp Fiction, is perhaps the best sequence in the film; one of those amazing numbers where we're clearly watching the dancers as themselves, and not whatever unnecessarily-named phantoms that they play ("Bake" Baker and Sherry Martin in this one, but you know what? They're Fred and Ginger. It's like caring who Cary Grant or Humphrey Bogart is playing). Are they having as much fun as they appear? Doesn't matter. They make it look thrillingly easy. Because they are geniuses.

One huge caveat: because he is playing a seaman (hehe), Fred appears for almost all of the film in a sailor suit. That's right, no top hat and tails. That's just wrong.

There may be trouble ahead,
But while there's music, and moonlight, and love and romance
Let's face the music, and dance