21 February 2007 | blanche-2
Not great, but Astaire is wonderful
Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, and Joan Caulfield star in "Blue Skies," a 1946 musical film also starring Billy de Wolfe and Olga San Juan. The film starts with Jed (Astaire) on the radio telling the story of his buddy Johnny's (Crosby) relationship with Mary (Caulfield), and saying that he hoped Mary, wherever she was, would hear him. Both Jed and Johnny had been in love with her, but she had chosen Johnny.
The story of this love triangle is backed up by one Irving Berlin song after another - there is a lot of music, some fine singing by Crosby and tremendous dancing by Astaire. This was to be his last film but his retirement only lasted a couple of years. He worked in film until 1977 and continued working in television and doing voiceovers until 1981; he died in 1987. In the late '50s, he did two dance specials on television, and he did one in 1968. Was he dancing at the age of 69? Probably.
The movie doesn't really hang together. The production values are great, but the story is trite, and there aren't enough fabulous numbers. Astaire does "Puttin' on the Ritz," which is the height of the film, also "Heat Wave," and with Crosby, "A Couple of Song and Dance Men." There is a section during World War II where Crosby sings some of his Berlin standards, "This is the Army, Mr. Jones," "White Christmas," and "Any Bonds Today?" The beautiful "Always" is done as a chorus number, as is "How Deep is the Ocean," with Crosby sometimes singing along.
Having heard Crosby when he had something to prove back in the early '30s, I can never be content with his crooning, except perhaps in some parts of "Holiday Inn." Astaire is the one who makes this film worthwhile at all. See it for him and for some of the music and musical numbers. Ignore the story.