The Nominees are.....
Top Hat, RKO Pictures
Swing Time, RKO Pictures
The Sky's The Limit, RKO Pictures
Easter Parade, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
The Band Wagon, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
And the winner is.....
The Sky's The Limit
Fred's best dramatic performance underscores his best movie. It has an extremely well written script of great depth which deftly creates a thoughtful commentary on wartime America. The dances and music are tightly integrated, heavily motivating the plot or resolving plot points, and are of exceptional quality, with a standout solo by Fred. His co-stars all turn in great performances, highly believable, very human.
Unfortunately his movie often suffers from false expectations. Most people expect a witty, lighthearted romp from a Fred Astaire movie. This one was not at all lighthearted. At every turn, the war lurked in the background, putting a damper on the main storyline. At the end, reality is there to remind us all of our responsibilities. There is no happy-ever-after here. What is here, is a message of hope, of courage, and of the conviction to fight for your inalienable rights. This movie is one of the most effective wartime movies ever made.
Fred's dances are sublime. His sparkling duets with Joan, once fun, one romantic, both play out perfectly, reflecting and advancing the greater story. Both are intricately choreographed and Joan is surprisingly good at her dancing. But it is Fred's great solo of pain, loss, anger and frustration, "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)", that stamps itself in your memory. Probably his most dangerous, it is also his most affecting. You feel his pain. You share his loss. And at the end, as he slowly walks out into the night, along again, you will know exactly how it is to be alone.
This movie is one you should see with an open mind and no expectations. You will be richly rewarded. Without a doubt, this movie is Fred Astaire's best musical, and probably his best ever.