If you’ve wondered if Randolph Scott was ever young, the answer is “yes”.
Follow the Fleet is a completely unrealistic but delightful story about dancing sailors meeting musical women and the ensuing chaos. There’s all kinds of mayhem that ends in the sailors staging a big fundraising show.
The film opens with a young Scott (as a non-dancing sailor) who meets a music teacher (played by Harriet Hilliard, before she became Harriet Nelson). Hilliard, who is taken with Scott, expresses admiration for the Navy.
She: If I were a man, I’d want to be a sailor.
He: I know what you mean.
But Scott gives Hilliard the brush-off due to her glasses and no-nonsense clothes. Enter Ginger Rogers with a new wardrobe and the advice that men don’t like smart women. But, Rogers explains, “It takes a lot of brains to be dumb.”
There’s nothing to take seriously here; there’s nothing but pure fun. Rogers is hysterical in a singing sequence where she battles the hiccups. Charming Fred Astaire makes dancing look like joy personified. And, of course, this movie would be nothing without the incomparable Irving Berlin, who composed the music and created songs that are still recognizable today.
Follow the Fleet is smart and entertaining movie. In our opinion, it’s one of the best Hollywood musical comedies ever made.
Starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Randolph Scott and Harriet Hilliard. Written by Dwight Taylor and Allan Scott. Directed by Mark Sandrich. RKO Radio Pictures, 1936, 110 mins.