Saturday, October 4, 2008

Dancing Sailors About to Get Bashed

1936 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film Follow the Fleet

In this scene, Astaire's character is teaching fellow sailors how to dance. Half are selected to lead. Those selected to follow oblige only after mild chagrin. Superior officers arrive to witness what looks like a gay dance party and then proceed to beat up the dancing sailors. Wah-wah-wah.

This movie is just about as old as John McCain.

Another weird part of the movie for me was a song in which the exceptionally dark biblical phrase "Get thee behind me, Satan" precedes a dilemma about giving in to sexual desires for an obvious cad. I've never heard of this song. It's Irving Berlin, so I suspect I'm just out of touch, but it really was weirdly incongruous.

That said, it's a charming movie. The dance numbers in the latter half of the film are particularly good. One of Fred's pulsating syncopated tap routines, on the slatted deck of a ship, is mesmerizing.

Ginger is at once cute and sexy. Her dancing to "Let's Face the Music and Dance", while wearing a translucent 35-pound beaded dress, weighted at the hem for added flair for the spins, is, of course, fabulously versatile, graceful, beautiful.

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