Friday, July 25, 2008

The Sky's The Limit

Warner Brothers is releasing some wartime movies with Joan Leslie later this year, including Thank Your Lucky Stars and This is the Army, the latter with a commentary by star Joan Leslie (along with the ever-annoying Drew Casper, who is further proof that companies should really look outside California for their classic-movie commentators).

That got me to thinking about a Joan Leslie wartime movie that Warners also owns but inexplicably hasn't released, even though it stars Fred Astaire and introduced at least one song that has become an all-time standard. She was loaned out to RKO to do The Sky's the Limit, with a score by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer; it's not one of Astaire's best movies, but the songs are great and Leslie continues her streak of doing surprisingly well opposite much more experienced leading men who by rights ought to obliterate her (Gary Cooper, James Cagney, and now Astaire).

"A Lot In Common" has a marvelous lyric by Johnny Mercer, even incorporating an in-joke about Leslie and Astaire's most recent co-stars (Cagney and Hayworth).

But the most memorable scene in the movie, and by far the most famous song, is Astaire's solo to "One For My Baby." As most people are aware, the number of all-time hit songs introduced by Astaire is staggering; other people may have had better voices (though many songwriters talked about how much they loved writing for Astaire, with his great sense of phrasing), but when it comes to the number of great songs he sang for the first time anywhere, on stage or screen, he's hard to match.


VP81955 said...

But the most memorable scene in the movie, and by far the most famous song, is Astaire's solo to "One For My Baby."

And yet, due to the relative invisibility of "The Sky's The Limit," hardly anyone ever associates this song with Astaire.

However, you can be sure Frank Sinatra was aware of Astaire's version when he first cut "One For My Baby" for Columbia in 1947, not to mention his far better known (and likely definitive) version for Capitol in 1958.

Anonymous said...

The way Astaire wore that fedora probably wasn't lost on Frankie, either.

VelvetFogg said...

This film has always seemed unjustly overlooked - it also introduced "My Shining Hour," and while the plot is a bit overdramatic, it's affecting, and Joan Leslie is, indeed charming.

"I've Got A Lot In Common With You" has always seemed like a song that Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore should have done on the Dick Van Dyke Show. In matching outfits.

Anonymous said...

Is Hollywood Canteen also going to be released on DVD?