If there was one thing that Fred Astaire excelled at, other than singing and dancing, it was the romantic comedy and The Sky’s the Limit is just that, which also happens to feature a little singing and dancing. Starring opposite Joan Leslie, the two would make a great onscreen couple who fall in love, with more than a little persuasion from Astaire and see them fill the eighty-nine-minute run-time effortlessly much to the enjoyment of the audience.
Astaire is Fred Atwell, an Air Force pilot on leave, though it is a working leave much to his consternation as he would much rather be having a bit of fun and so, he decides to break with his company for the ten days he has off and do exactly that. Leslie is Joan Manion, a photographer looking to get her big break instead of shooting the fluff that her boss always assigns her and it is while she is doing that job that she runs into Atwell or he into her. From that moment on, Atwell has decided that Joan is the one for him and does everything he can to convince her of that. The only thing standing in Fred’s way is himself and it comes to a point where all the laughing and gaiety must come to an end and real-life takes over which is exactly what happens and Joan calls it off with him. Of course, this being Hollywood and a wartime film, there is a happy ending that sees them meet up just as Fred is being shipped off.
Unlike many of Astaire’s previous films, this particular movie has a little more meat on the bones so to speak, a little more room for the man to stretch his acting muscles with fewer musical numbers, though there are a few of those as well. Whether it be the dramatic, the comedic or those aforementioned musical interludes, one sees Astaire at his best, doing what only he can do and being just as charming and affable as always. Leslie too is quite charming, playing a woman that most would find easy to fall in love with and the two have great chemistry, each one playing off of the other effortlessly to make for an incredibly entertaining movie. There are some that might find some of Atwell’s antics a little shocking in this day and age, the times being greatly changed from what they once were but if one simply remembers that very thing, it is not hard to sit back and enjoy the lighthearted silliness that takes place on the screen.
As far as this involving anything connected to the Air Force or Armed Forces, it is minimal and probably for the best as this romantic comedy would focus more on the relationship between the two leads though it would not be altogether left out. It would be everpresent in the decisions Fred would make, not to mention those of Joan as well and it would be that which would bring them back together in the end as well, war being a catalyst for many things. All of that being said, The Sky’s The Limit might not be remembered as one of Astaire’s best films but it is an excellent one, a slice of happiness made manifest on the big screen and one that most, if not everyone would enjoy.
4 out of 5