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Bing and Fred Together Again with Joan
‘Blue Skies’ is a song by Irving Berlin. As well as this film, I also heard it performed by Brent Spiner as Data in the ‘Star Trek’ movie ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’. It was fun to be reminded of that seeing this film. 🙂
The film ‘Blue Skies’ was released in 1946 and was directed by Stuart Heisler. It’s also the second film to have Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire together in a musical comedy film after being in ‘Holiday Inn’. 🙂
I hadn’t seen ‘Blue Skies’ properly before this review. I’d seen clips of it; including the musical number Fred Astaire does called ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’, but this was the first time I saw the whole film.
It was nice to watch ‘Blue Skies’ all the way through. Whilst I don’t consider it to be great as ‘Holiday Inn’, it’s a nice film to watch featuring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire showcasing Irving Berlin’s music.
Fred Astaire plays a dancer who loves a showgirl played by Joan Caulfield. But in the end, Joan Caulfield’s character loves Bing Crosby as a compulsive nightclub-opener who can’t stay committed.
It was intriguing to watch the film as the plot is presented in a series of flashbacks with Fred Astaire’s character as the narrator on a radio show. Bing and Fred’s characters also compete for the same girl.
That was the case in the ‘Holiday Inn’ film where Bing and Fred’s characters competed for the same girl. But as ever, Bing and Fred deliver a sense of charm to their performances for their characters. 🙂
A lot of Irving Berlin music gets reused from previous films in ‘Blue Skies’. As well as the title song and ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’, there are songs like ‘A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody’ and ‘White Christmas’. 🙂
‘White Christmas’ is a recurrent song in many Irving Berlin-related films I’ve seen, including ‘Holiday Inn’ and the actual film ‘White Christmas’. I always like hearing the song when it’s played in a movie.
Incidentally, the ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ song/dance number performed by Fred Astaire puts me in mind of a ‘Jeeves & Wooster’ episode I’ve seen. Hugh Laurie sang that song ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ in that. 😀
There’s also a duet between Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire called ‘A Couple of Song and Dance Men’. It almost has echoes of ‘I’ll Capture Your Heart’ from the ‘Holiday Inn’ film between Bing and Fred. 🙂
There’s a song/dance number with Fred Astaire called ‘Heat Wave’. It starts off being a jovial number before it ends with Fred falling dramatically from a precipice. That was very shocking to see.
The characters’ names for our actors in this film are as follows. Bing plays Johnny Adams whilst Fred Astaire plays Jed Potter. Joan Caulfield is Mary O’Hara, who is torn between the two men in her life.
Billy De Wolfe plays Tony, who provides most of the comedy in the film as well as the back-up singing for Bing’s songs. Tony did dress up as a woman in a comedy routine, which seemed pointless.
There’s also Olga San Juan as Nita Nova, who sings some of the songs in the movie too. Nita ends up being a love interest for Tony’s character in the film and she tells Johnny how much Mary loves him.
In the film, Johnny and Mary end up having a daughter, who happens to be Mary Elizabeth Adams played by Karolyn Grimes. Karolyn played Zuzu in the film ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ with James Stewart.
I was disappointed we didn’t get to have a scene where Johnny reunites with his wife Mary and their daughter halfway in the film. Whilst Johnny’s scene with his daughter was nice, it is just one scene. 😦
Interesting to point out that Mark Sandrich, who directed most of the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers films, was meant to direct ‘Blue Skies’. Sadly Sandrich died of a heart attack during pre-production. 😦
When Stuart Heisler took over, he wanted to replace Joan Caulfield as the leading lady. But Bing Crosby protected her since he was having an affair with her. Pretty fascinating to find that bit out! 😀
‘Blue Skies’ was made in technicolour at the time. I know there’s a colour version of ‘Holiday Inn’, but it was originally in black-and-white. Here, ‘Blue Skies’ is Bing and Fred’s first colour film made. 🙂
Overall, ‘Blue Skies’ was an entertaining film to feature Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire together. It’s not as good as ‘Holiday Inn’, but I enjoyed watching it and it had some very good musical numbers. 🙂
‘Blue Skies’ rating – 7/10
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