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The Sky's The Limit [Reino Unido] [DVD]

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Fred Astaire partners a 17-year-old Joan Leslie in the WWII film. The Sky's the Limit is a charming, enjoyable wartime picture from his post Ginger Rogers period. Astaire plays a decorated fighter pilot who's taking some incognito R & R, but his laissez-faire guise ends up infuriating the young lady he's attracted to (Joan Leslie, a year removed from playing James Cagney's wife in Yankee Doodle Dandy). Leslie was perhaps Astaire's most appealing partner after Ginger Rogers. Astaire and Leslie strike sparks in their various dance routines which will surprise and delight Astaire fans. The choreography is done by Astaire himself and demonstrates a progressive streak that predates and prophesises the Modern Jazz dance of the 1950's a la Marge and Gower Champion, in which the dancing is darker and more internal. This is a special film that encompasses the talent of this great showman and demonstrates Astaires contribution to the dance of cinema.

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22 de 22 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
"One for My Baby"...A great song, a great dance and a great dancer. Hard to beat Fred Astaire, Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer 4 de agosto de 2006
Por C. O. DeRiemer - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato: Cinta VHS
One great dance number by Fred Astaire and two great Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer songs redeem this minor Astaire movie. The Sky's the Limit tells the story of Fred Atwell (Fred Astaire), a Flying Tiger ace pilot, brought home to make special public appearances with other aces before returning to the war. But he decides to take a few days unofficial leave, jumps off his train and makes his way to New York. There he happens to see Joan Manion (Joan Leslie), an ace photographer, sitting at the bar of the Cosmopolitan Club with her boss, magazine owner Phil Harriman (Robert Benchley). It may not be love at first sight, exactly, but a combination of vivid attraction with a smattering of lust. Atwell pursues her relentlessly, even finding a place to stay in her rooming house, until she relents. She's attracted to him, but his story of not being interested in work bothers her. After all, everyone should be working to help the war effort. He's keeping the fact that he's an ace fighter pilot a secret. Since he has only five days before he must rejoin his group and return to the Pacific, he's got to cut corners and work fast. But complications arise. The "I don't like to work" line blows up in his face; she thinks he's a war-time dead beat; he doesn't want to tell her the truth and that he's in love. He knows he must leave her because he has to go back to the fighting. But wouldn't you know...her boss, who loves her, too...sets things up so that Joan learns the truth, and just in time for them both to declare their love. We leave them with Fred's plane climbing the sky toward Australia, and Joan looking skyward after him with a prayer for his safety.

This is a Fred Astaire movie?

Actually, it's a wartime morale booster that stars Astaire. I'm sure the audiences back in 1943 left the movie houses having enjoyed themselves, but with a feeling of poignant hope about the dedication and sacrifice the war effort is calling for. Sixty years later, however, what are we left with? Not much, but what there is is choice.

The movie only has three songs, but two are classics and one is lot of fun. "One for My Baby," sung and danced by Astaire, is a great bluesy moan of unhappiness and frustration. "My Shining Hour," sung first by Leslie, then by Astaire, then later danced by Astaire and Leslie, is a lovely song of hope and delicate optimism, with the lyric and melody perfectly matched:

This will be my shining hour

Calm and happy and bright.

In my dreams, your face will flower

Through the darkness of the night.

Like the lights of home before me

Or an angel, watching o'er me,

This will be my shining hour

'Til I'm with you again

A little later, walking Joan Manion home, Fred says he thinks the song should be a bit more lighthearted, and proceeds to sing his version...

This will be my shining hour,

Lonely though it may be.

Like the face of Misha Auer

On the music hall marquee.

Were they stingers or bacardis?

Was it Tony's, was it Sardi's?

This will be my shining hour

'Til I'm with you again.

Even later, Astaire and Leslie dance a romantic declaration of love to the melody.

"I've Got a Lot in Common With You" is a clever, fast-paced song and dance routine by Astaire and Leslie at a USO club. The song features a funny in-joke by Mercer that works in a reference by Joan Leslie to Jimmy Cagney and one by Astaire to Rita Hayworth. Leslie had just finished Yankee Doodle Dandy and Astaire, You Were Never Lovelier. The fast tap routine shows just how good Astaire was at working with actresses who had limited dancing experience. Look carefully and you'll see that Leslie's most demanding moves are frequently disguised by Astaire, and that when he does a double or triple spin, she does one. To give her credit, most of the time she looks relaxed and confident.

What makes the movie memorable, in addition to the Arlen-Mercer songs, is Astaire's "One for My Baby" routine. He thinks he's lost Joan and he doesn't see any way to put things right in the few hours he has left before he returns to war. He starts hitting the saloons while he's singing the great Mercer words. He winds up in a high-class bar with lots of stacked glasses and mirrors, white walls and tables. And Astaire starts one of his great dances, and one of his few which explodes into destructiveness. He starts drunkenly tapping before the bar, sees a couple of glasses on a table and precisely smashes them to the floor with two kicks, leaps up furiously on the bar, down, up again, and spots all the glasses stacked up behind him. He tears into them, finishing by leaping down and throwing a chair against the mirror and the glasses. It's a great song, a great dancer and a great dance.

It's quarter to three, there's no one in the place except you and me.

So, set 'em up, Joe, I got a little story you oughta know.

We're drinkin', my friend, to the end of a brief episode.

Make it one for my baby and one more for the road.

I got the routine, so drop another nickel in the machine.

I'm feelin' so bad, wish you'd make the music pretty and sad.

Could tell you a lot, but you've got to be true to your code.

So, make it one for my baby and one more for the road.

You'd never know it but buddy, I'm a kind of poet

And I got a lot of things to say.

And when I'm gloomy, you simply gotta listen to me

'Till it's all talked away.

Well that's how it goes and Joe, I know your gettin' pretty anxious to close.

So, thanks for the cheer, I hope you didn't mind my bendin' your ear.

This torch that I found must be drowned or it soon might explode.

So, make it one for my baby and one more for the road.

That long, long road.

The movie to date is available only on VHS. The RKO Home Video tape I have looks very good.
32 de 34 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
Not your average musical 29 de julio de 2001
Por Un cliente - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato: Cinta VHS
"The Sky's The Limit" is a rare film, especially when one considers its a wartime musical. At that time, escapism was the key to most movies. People wanted to go into a theater and forget about the war and probably expected this movie to fulfill that purpose since Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers had helped many to forget the Great Depression with their series of films. However, this film is more than just song and dance. It has a heart and brain to it. Fred Astaire plays a man in the military, a Flying Tiger to be exact, who gets leave for a few days and tries desperately to escape the "flyboy hero" image he has gotten. He ditches the uniform and becomes a regular guy. He meets up with Joan Leslie (who was 17 when she made this movie!) and immediately falls in love with her. I notice that all the reviewers allude to stalking and if this movie had been made today, there's no doubt Fred would have a restraining order against him. However, it was the 1940s and so we know that Fred is a harmless fellow. The rest of the movie is the good ol' classic love story.
As I mentioned before, this movie has a heart and brain. In most musicals of the time, the flag was being waved and there was never a negative word against the war. "The Sky's The Limit" is also very patriotic, but not obviously so. Astaire's character believes strongly in what he is fighting for, but the movie also deals with the problems people felt at the time, the separation from loved ones, etc. It also features a female lead who's goal in life is not just to land a husband. This girl has a job as a reporter and wishes to go to the European theater (though there are some statements that could be considered politically incorrect, but remember its the '40s). It also deals with Fred wanting to get away from all the attention, something that I'm sure happened to many heroes that didn't believe they deserved the accolades. If not for the singing and dancing, this could have been an excellent wartime drama. However, the dancing and singing in this movie is awesome. What else could it be when it comes to Fred Astaire? Joan Leslie sings well and manages to keep up with the great Astaire in a dancing/singing duet. The best part of the film, in my opinion, is Fred's "One For My Baby" solo. After singing the song, he proceeds to jump on a bar counter and dance up a storm. This is probably one of the most dangerous routines Fred ever did. The bar top was highly polished and also very slippery making it harder for Fred to dance on. If he'd fallen, he would have broken his leg. Also, he kicks over glasses during the course of the dance. A nurse was on the set to remove all the glass from Fred's ankles and legs after every take. Of course, none of the difficulty comes through and he makes it look so easy you may find yourself thinking "I could do that".
And so, if you like musicals, but not the "let's put on a show" kind, I highly recommend "The Sky's The Limit".
12 de 12 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
One of Astaire's best!!! 27 de junio de 1999
Por Un cliente - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato: Cinta VHS
I really like this movie. "One For My Baby (and One More For the Road" and "A Lot in Common" are great songs, and Fred Astaire (my favorite performer ever) did such wonderful dances I have to watch each one at least two times. Joan Leslie keeps up with Astaire, which I praise her for. The only bad part was the terribly sad and incomplete (in my opinion) ending. But I suggest you watch this movie. You won't be sorry.
8 de 8 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
Fred Astaire as Gene Kelly 10 de diciembre de 2002
Por Un cliente - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato: Cinta VHS
This movie surprised me a lot. It wasn't what I expected at all. I was on a Fred Astaire kick and was viewing many of his early movies. When I came to this one, I saw a Fred that I hadn't seen before. Then it hit me... Fred Astaire was playing a Gene Kelly part. Imagine Kelly in this role! Fred Astaire seemed to have one "gimmicky" dance in many of his movies and the wonderful bar dance was this picture's gimmic. But it was an athletic dance that you'd expect from Gene Kelly. Not to say I didn't like the movie. I liked it a lot. The bar dance (to One More for the Road) was great. Benchley's dinner speech was so funny and is one scene that I'd like to show in public speaking classes for a lesson on how NOT to give a speech.
6 de 6 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
"So, set 'em up, Joe. I've got a little story you oughta know." 29 de julio de 2007
Por H. Bala - Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato: Cinta VHS
With Fred Astaire's most lauded works being readily available to the public, I've always thought it a great treat to stumble into his lesser known, harder-to-find films. THE SKY'S THE LIMIT qualifies as such, and it's a darn good movie. Here, Astaire has a more dramatic role than usual and he proves to be capable in it. Meanwhile, there's the usual excellent dancing and the showcasing of two great song standards.

Fred plays Fred Atwell, an ace pilot of the world famous Flying Tigers. After another successful mission, the Tigers are sent on a stateside promotional tour, but Fred, wanting to get away from it all for a bit, decides to skip out and have fun on his own. He ends up in a New York nightclub and meets fledgling magazine photographer Joan Manion (Joan Leslie), whom he rapidly rubs the wrong way. Not wishing to be bombarded with questions re the Flying Tigers, he presents himself as a carefree, out-of-work fella named Fred Burton. Fred goes on the chase and eventually wins Joan over. But it doesn't take long before she begins to question Fred's casual work ethic and seemingly aimless nature (as set in the WW2 backdrop, these are especially frowned on qualities). Things get even more thorny when his casual fling turns serious as Fred, knowing that he's only on a short leave and must soon depart, finds himself falling hard for Joan.

THE SKY'S THE LIMIT, released in 1943, isn't one of Fred Astaire's best when compared to his many classic pictures (I still rate it 4.5 out of 5 stars). When viewed strictly on its own merit, it becomes a more accomplished work. Part of the reason that this film didn't perform as well as hoped in the box office was that it was promoted strictly as a lighthearted musical-comedy. The depth and dark undercurrent must've come as a surprise to the viewers back then. This film was made in the throes of WW2 and presented a departure from the normally happy and bouncy Fred Astaire product. Here, Fred gets a chance to do some acting and acquits himself well with his more callous and bleaker-than-norm character. Too, the love story starts out light and frivolous but then rapidly evolves into a bittersweet, whirlwind romance, which must've struck close to home with the wartime viewers.

Although the general feel of the film is one of lighthearted comedy, one can never fully forget that the froth takes place during the wartime backdrop. The presence of World War 2 is a constant quiet intrusion, affecting everything that goes on in the film. There's a sense of urgency implied in Fred's antics as he's perfectly (and maybe even desperately) aware of the limited time he has to seek out his fun. To him and most of the soldiers on leave, money is nothing while making the most of your alloted time is everything. It gives this film an added resonance.

Songwriter Johnny Mercer contributes two great songs: the wartime ballad "My Shining Hour" and the wistful lament "One For My Baby." There's also his "A Lot in Common With You" but that tune's merely decent, even if the lyrics are clever. Proving again that he's as graceful a singer as he is a hoofer, Fred delivers an easy going spoofy rendition of "My Shining Hour." His singing of "One For My Baby," on the other hand, is anything but easy going. His enraged and drunken performance of "One For My Baby" is the hands down showstopper of the film. It's a virtuoso act as Fred kick-shatters real glass and dances with vivid emotional rawness. Meanwhile, his ballroom dance with Leslie to "My Shining Hour" is typically elegant. Now, Fred isn't classically handsome, by any means (with his elongated face, he looks more like Mr. Peanut). More often than not, in his films, he wears down the girl with his good-natured but dogged pursuit. Short, lean, and balding, he relies on his cosmopolitan charisma and dancing feet to win the girl. Accordingly, it's his unwelcome, oneupmanship duet with Joan in "A Lot In Common With You" which makes her grudgingly begin to reciprocate his feelings. It's in this number that names of Astaire and Leslie's past film partners are tongue-in-cheeked invoked. Good fun.

I've always liked Joan Leslie (never better than in Yankee Doodle Dandy (Two-Disc Special Edition)). She's wholesomely lovely, down to earth, and can hold her own in the song & dance department. She reminds me of Debbie Reynolds, but not as cheeky. For a while in her career, she played opposite male leads much older than she. She was 16 when she played 40-year-old Gary Cooper's love interest in Sergeant York (Two-Disc Special Edition). Here, Joan was 18 (although made up to look older), Fred was 44. But never mind. They're both good in their roles and convincing and heartbreaking as a couple in love. Robert Benchley is a welcome addition as the funny and cynical magazine editor who attempts to be Fred's rival for Joan. Don't miss his bemused bargraph/chart lecture; it's a howl. A young Robert Ryan also briefly shows up as Fred's kinda cruel but steadfast Flying Tiger pal.

No, THE SKY'S THE LIMIT will never be mistaken for The Best Years of Our Lives. But, beneath the bubbly facade, the film does attempt to depict the day-to-day goings-on of life in the wartime era (and this was even before the U.S. officially joined WW2). As such, there's a hefty undercurrent of somberness and of events in unpredictable flux which makes this film even more relevant as we simultaneously enjoy it as a giddy Astaire vehicle. Unlike most of Astaire's films, which tout a blithely happy ending, this one ends on a bittersweet note. As Fred and a tearful Joan part ways and as he returns to his perilous job, uncertainty clouds the air. I can't help but wonder if Fred made it thru okay and met up with his Joan again. But we'll never know.

Note: other Fred Astaire gems which aren't widely heralded but shouldn't be forgotten: Second Chorus, Damsel in Distress (with Joan Fontaine & Burns and Allen, VHS), Three Little Words (awesome movie!), and THE PLEASURE OF HIS COMPANY (although he doesn't really dance in this one). Even The Belle of New York (The Musicals Great Musicals Collection) and Yolanda & The Thief (both VHS), which aren't as entertaining, are still passable fare. I'm biased, though, because I consider Fred Astaire to be the best dancer in film EVER, a class act, and one of my all-time favorites in cinema. So, in my eyes, every picture he was ever in, however modest, is just cause for trumpeting.

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