Our story starts here, as Tom & Ellen Bowen (Astaire and Jane Powell) are closing out their hit show in New York by grossing out the audience.
Brother and sister, folks. These two make Karen and Richard Carpenter look downright normal in comparison.
Backstage after the show, Jane introduces Fred to her latest fuck buddy. His name doesn’t matter. He’s only one in a long line. Fred is cordial, but he knows that at the end of the day, his sister is going home with him.
The three of them head out to a bar to meet their manager, played by Keenan Wynn. Keenan tells them that he’s got them booked for London and they leave in a week.
Another of Jane’s conquests shows up and she’s not even concerned about any sort of uncomfortable scene happening. She just does what she always does.
Ignores them while they fight over her and then leaves.
The next week, yet another of her lovers shows up to see her ship off. She pretends like she’s going to miss him.
Fuck buddy also shows up to see her off. The hell with the Dramamine, we just hope she packed some industrial grade penicillin
And of course, yet another fist fight breaks out…
…to the sheer delight of Fred and Jane. Well, it’s official. These two are assholes.
Later, they walk arm in arm around the ship, startling the other passengers with their inappropriate touching.
Jane takes some time off from touching her brother to flirt with the hotness of Peter Lawford. Peter is a Lord and that immediately gets Jane’s nipples perky.
She drags him off to meet Fred, since apparently he gets the final word on who she can sleep with. Fred gives her the go-ahead.
But you can tell he’s really bummed about it.
So he heads off to the gym to work off his sexual frustration. This is only an okay sequence. Not Fred’s best work by a long shot. For some reason, Fred and Gene Kelly seemed to spend most of the late ’40s and early ’50s dancing with inanimate objects.Later that night, Jane and Fred decide to come clean with the whole ship about their disturbing relationship:
Next stop: Stock footage!
After checking into their hotel room (Yes, “room.” Singular.), Fred and Jane meet their manager’s twin brother, also played by Keenan Wynn. Inexplicably, he’s not just English, he’s the “Pip, pip. Cheerio, my good chap, wot?” kind of English that you only found in old Hollywood films. Were they separated at birth or something? This is never explained.
On his way to rehearsals, Fred stalks a local girl, played by Sarah Churchill, who was, believe it or not, Winston’s daughter. She gives him the cold English shoulder.
But Oh! Who could have predicted that she’s a dancer on the way to audition for Fred’s very show! Not us, that’s for sure!Fred tells her that the only way she’ll get in the show is if she agrees to go out with him, so naturally, she does.
Meanwhile, Peter and Jane are spending some quality time in front of a rear projection screen.
That night, Jane and Fred lie to each other and pretend that they’re going to bed instead of going out on dates.
By the way, kudos to their very talented fictional mother, who managed to have children 30 years apart.
Fred tries to get Sarah drunk but she’s having none of it. She tells him that she’s engaged to be married to an American that she hasn’t spoken to in months. Talk about your mixed signals.
The next day, Fred is pissed because Jane is clearly getting some and he’s not.
After it turns out that Peter can’t make it to opening night, the siblings reunite in a fit of passion and declare that they’ll be each other’s date for the night. We get a little nauseous every time they touch each other.
Opening night! And once again, their choice of material disturbs everyone.
Okay, it’s a cute song with clever lyrics but, as we’ve said before, we never could stand it when Fred tried to play “rough.” It just never worked. And that is some disturbing choreography. He looks like he’s ready to beat her at any second.
Backstage, Fred is pissed that Peter showed up and ruined his chances with his sister once again.
Peter declares his love for Jane and she’s all “Hey, why don’t I just sing to you instead?”
Fred, lonely and horny, steals Sarah’s picture from the lobby display and takes it back to his room to masturbate. Which he does the only way he knows how:
Let’s face it: it’s an amazing sequence.
Fred had English-Keenan check up on Sarah’s supposed fiance in America and is delighted to find out that the guy is married to someone else.
Time for one more disturbingly sexual number!
Although to be honest, it’s actually hysterical when you consider that Jane Powell, who couldn’t possibly be any whiter, is supposed to be a Haitian temptress in this number.
Fred breaks the news to Sarah about her fiance and Missy Mixed-Signals is thrilled to hear it. Why? Because now Fred can marry her! Yes, she really says that.
Is there anyone in this film who isn’t seriously fucked up?
Fred’s all “Yeah…listen, I just wanted some laughs until my sister gets Peter Lawford out of her system.” Sarah, not at all pissed that he’s fucked her around, smiles gently and lets him off the hook. She’s English, which means she can’t display any extreme emotions, but you know she went back to her place that night and slashed all her pillows with a butcher knife.
Back at their hotel room, the siblings have a lover’s quarrel when they each hear that the other got a marriage proposal that night. After fighting a bit, they agree to stay with each other.
The next day they all head out to watch stock footage of the royal wedding.
Fred takes time away from pretending to cheer to notice that Jane is miserable and he probably can’t make her as happy as studly Peter Lawford. This is a musical and we all know what that means, don’t we kittens?
INEXPLICABLY RUSHED DOUBLE WEDDING! Kiss kiss. The End.
Oh god, we feel so dirty now.
But! As an extra added Musical Monday bonus, we include this link to watch the ENTIRE movie, since it’s in the public domain, which explains why the quality of the print is so bad. We hear that there will be a remastered, cleaned up edition released some time in the next year.