Musical Monday: The Fleet’s In (1942)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

HUTTON 1 FLEET'S INThis week’s musical:
“The Fleet’s In” –Musical #488

Paramount Pictures

Victor Schertzinger

Dorothy Lamour, William Holden, Eddie Bracken, Betty Hutton, Leif Erickson, Betty Jane Rhodes, Jimmy Dorsey (as himself)

Sailor Casey Kirby (Holden) is dubbed a playboy when there is a picture of him in the newspaper kissing movie star Diana Golden (Rhodes). As his buddies build him up as a “sea wolf,” they bet Casey can’t woo ice queen nightclub performer “The Countess” (Lamour), who is well-known for turning down sailors. However, Casey isn’t aware that sailors are betting money him kissing the Countess in public. During all of this, the Countess’s roommate Bessie Dale (Hutton) is after Casey’s friend Barney (Bracken).

Betty Hutton‘s first feature film. Hutton came straight from Broadway, where she was in the play “Panama Hattie” with Ethel Merman.
-Music written by Johnny Mercer.
-Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra perform in the film. Dorsey is the brother of other big band leader, Tommy Dorsey. Jimmy played the saxophone and Tommy played the trombone.
-Hutton and Lamour became long time friends while making this movie, Hutton wrote in her autobiography, “Backstage, You Can Have.” ”
“I will always love her for the friendship she immediately showed to me in those early days,” she wrote.

Bessie (Hutton) holds back the Countess (Lamour) when she finds out there is a bet if Casey (Holden) kisses her. Barney (Bracken) hides.

Bessie (Hutton) holds back the Countess (Lamour) when she finds out there is a bet if Casey (Holden) kisses her. Barney (Bracken) hides.

Notable Songs:
-“Tangerine” performed by Jimmy Dorsey’s band and sung by Bob Eblery and Helen O’Connell
-“When You Hear the Time Signal” sung by Dorothy Lamour
-“If You Build a Better Mousetrap” sung by Betty Hutton, performed by Jimmy Dorsey’s band
-“Not Mine” sung by Betty Hutton and Dorothy Lamour
-“I Remember You” sung by Dorothy Lamour
-“Arthur Murray Taught Me To Dancing a Hurry” sung by Betty Grable

-Jimmy Dorsey’s band using telephones as part of their song for “When You Hear the Time Signal”
-Betty Hutton singing and quickly dancing several dances during the song “Arthur Murray Taught Me To Dancing in a Hurray.” Lyrics are as follow with video below:

“Turkey trot
Or gavotte?
Don’t know which,
Don’t know what.
Bunny hug?
Long as you
Cut a rug!
Walk the dog,
Do the frog,
Lindy hop
Till you drop!
Ball the jack
Back to back,
Cheek to cheek
Till you’re weak.”

My Review:
This is an enormously enjoyable and funny movie.
The plot is very thin and is mainly padded with excellent music by Johnny Mercer, but it’s a wonderful piece of World War II-era escapism.
Dorothy Lamour is gorgeous and funny in her role as “The Countess.”
William Holden is still early in his career. He does well in the comedy, but you can tell he has more potential- which he proved later in his career.
For me, the real treat is Betty Hutton. I know I may be a minority in this. I have found several folks in the film community who find her exasperating or irritating. But I LOVE her energy- displayed perfectly in the “Arthur Murray” number.
There is also another funny lady in this film, who I wasn’t familiar with until I saw this film, named Cass Daley. Her singing has a similar sound to Hutton’s and she mainly makes jokes off her physical appearance. What I found interesting is that Cass Elliot of the Mama’s and the Papa’s apparently named herself for Daley.
With an entertaining cast and catchy 1940s tunes, this is a must see.

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