Plot: What’s it about?
Bake Baker (Fred Astaire) used to light up the dance floor like few men could, with moves that defied the laws of physics and left onlookers dazzled. But these days, his feet slide on the poop deck, as he is now a sailor and rarely finds a suitable partner. He hasn’t lost a step however, all the while thinking back on his dancing days and his frequent partner, Sherry Martin (Ginger Martin). But when the Navy docks in San Francisco for a spell, Bake gets a chance to rekindle the flames with his former partner. Of course, their past hasn’t always been smooth, but the two have instant sparks once again. At the same time, Sherry’s sister Connie (Harriet Hilliard) meets up with Bake’s pal Bilge Smith (Randolph Scott) for some potential romance. At first, nostalgia brings the couples close and allows for romantic interludes, but that soon begins to fade. Old ways start to kick back in and soon, all four find themselves in romantic woes. But can their problems be solved with one more dance number, just for old time’s sake?
The movie musical used to be a cinema staple, with a constant stream of new musicals released to enchant audiences. I have to be honest, I am glad those days have past and even recent hits like Moulin Rouge and Chicago have been unable to jump start the musical’s return. I watch all kinds of movies, from horror to western to action to comedies, but I cannot stand most musicals. I guess I am blind to the attraction of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, because most musicals put me to sleep. Even I have some exceptions of course, but Follow that Fleet is not one of those rare instances. I am not entertained by simple dance routines and mediocre songs, which is about all this movie has to offer. But if you’re a fan of the old school style musicals, you’ll find a lot to like here, with numerous musical numbers. But call me crazy, because I was bored stiff by Follow that Fleet, so I can only recommend this release to diehard musical fans.
Video: How does it look?
Follow that Fleet is presented in full frame, as intended. I am very pleased with how clean the image looks, but some compression flaws keep this one from getting too high of a score. I noticed frequent, though minor moire patterns and edge enhancement, which forces me to knock this one down a couple notches. The source print looks pristine though, with minimal debris and grain evident. This is a top notch black & white image, with well balanced black levels and no detail problems I could see.
Audio: How does it sound?
The original mono track is used and supplies an adequate presentation. This is mono, so of course, the musical numbers lack the depth we’d like. But the songs sound as good as mono allows, so we can’t complain too much. The rest is based on dialogue for the most part, so don’t expect much in terms of other elements. This is a crisp track, with few traces of harshness or distortion, which is impressive for a film of this age. The sound effects are distinct and vocals are clean also, this isn’t a memorable option, but it does the film justice. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French, should you need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a new featurette on the production, as well as the musical short Jimmie Lunceford and His Dance Orchestra and the cartoon short Let It Be Me. These all make fun, welcome inclusions and provide a kind of “movie night” feel, if played with the feature itself. The final extra is the film’s theatrical trailer and of course, I always love to see trailers included.