Directed by: Edward H. Griffith
Fred Atwell (Fred Burton)
Also featuring: Freddie Slack and his Orchestra, Eric Blore
Produced by: David Hempsted, Sherman Todd (Associate)
Written by: Frank Fenton, S.K. Lauren, Lynn Root, William T. Ryder
Choreographed by: Fred Astaire
Cinematography: Russell Metty
Words and Music by: Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen
Production Company: RKO
Premiere: New York, September 2, 1943
Synopsis (from VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever 2001): Astaire spends his leave in Manhattan and falls in love with fetching journalist Leslie. He's in civvies, so little does she know he's a war hero. Nothing-special semi-musical, with Fred-Ginger spark missing. (2½ out of 4)
Fred's most underrated movie, mostly due to false expectations by the moviegoing public. A Fred Astaire film was supposed to be a lighthearted romp, not a serious movie with a serious message. It was supposed to have a gang of comics speaking witty lines, not exceptional actors portraying believable people. It was supposed to be dancing, with the plot secondary, not a tight, well written, cohesive plot with dancing supporting the overall structure. It was supposed to end with a 'happily ever after', not on a dark yet positive and hopeful note. Yet this film had all these things.
This film, may very well be Fred's best dramatic film, despite being a musical. It is realistic and subtle, with no ridiculous over-the-top flag waving. Instead the patriotic message is delivered quietly and effectively. Fred himself produces a virtuoso performance as an actor and as a dancer, giving his free spirited character just the right amount of foreboding. He also produces one of the greatest solos in musical history- "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)".
Joan Leslie and Robert Benchley also produce great performances. Both are great actors who aren't remembered as well as they should be (although I still hope that Joan will return to acting....)
This movie is one you should see with an open mind and no expectations. You will be richly rewarded.
[Note: After "One For My Baby", Fred wanders off into the night. For some reason, people assume Fred drives home drunk. He doesn't! He was a visitor to the city, and didn't have a car! He walked everywhere, or got rides. Going to the Sloan dinner, he was driven by Joan. There's the funny bit in the car where he scares her at the wheel. From the Sloan dinner, he accompanied Harriman off to the other bar. There, he declared he was going to walk home. It's quite obvious that it was impossible for Fred to drive anywhere. Yet people assume he does! Even Billman puts a note in his otherwise excellent bio-bibliography about "the thought of him driving home in his drunken state makes the number questionable when viewed today." Rubbish! It annoys me.]
The final word:
|Dancing value: 10/10|
Acting value: 10/10
Entertainment value: 10/10
Overall Ranking: 1/31
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